Candidates for the D.C. City Council were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Problems: What are the three most pressing legislative problems in your ward and how do you propose to address them?
Employment: What would you do as a City Council member to increase employment opportunities in the District?
Charles B. Fisher (R), 57, of 212 T St. NW, a marketing and public relations consultant to government and business, has been a special assistant to the Secretary of Defense, head of the D.C. Board of Elections and a consultant to the national and D.C. Republican Committees. A Howard University graduate, he is a third-generation resident of Ward 1.
Problems: The three most pressing legislative problems in Ward 1 are: 1) taxation of property owners; 2) implementation of mandatory sentencing initiative, and 3) enactment of legislation to permit straightening out of the elections system. Legislation should be proposed putting a ceiling on assessments and the tax rate that would give relief to all types of property owners. This legislation should also force the District to rehabilitate its vacant property and return it to the available housing stock. Immediate legislation to implement the mandatory minimum sentence initiative, because crime and drugs are both affected by the initiative. Necessary legislation should be enacted to permit immediate voter re-registration and to void the entire elections system. In other words, to start anew with experienced D.C. residents as employes.
Employment: Employment for Ward 1 residents is the most important issue that we face and must solve. In excess of 11 percent of our inner-city residents are unemployed and the percentage increases to more than 40 percent when we speak of our youth. To stop this abominable trend, we must bring in new businesses and revitalize the existing ones. To accomplish this, I will act immediately following my election to present legislation that will provide enterprise zones along 14th Street, U Street and Georgia Avenue corridors. These zones will have tax advantages and incentives that will ensure small business and community participation. The present District of Columbia administration has proposed, and I concur, that the northwest corner of 14th and U streets will be developed as a satellite city hall. This development, in conjunction with the city-sponsored enterprise zone, will bring jobs to Ward 1. Also, the need to train and place Ward 1 residents in these meaningful jobs should be facilitated by using the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) as the training source.
Maurice Jackson (Ind.), 32, of 1673 Columbia Rd. NW, is chairman of the D.C.-Virginia District of the Communist Party, U.S.A. and a Ward 1 delegate to the Constitutional Convention. A graduate of Antioch College, he was active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s and has been a counselor, longshoreman and construction worker.
Problems: Jobs, housing and crime. I would introduce a massive jobs and job-training bill to employ laid-off workers and unskilled, unemployed youth, with priority in the poorest areas of the ward. Take the boards off the 450 boarded-up homes, by employing the jobless men, women and youth to renovate them and convert them to low- to moderate-income housing. Bring light industry to Ward 1 at Champlain and Euclid streets; 11th Street and Georgia Avenue; and U Street. Repair old Children's Hospital, converting it to public housing. I would support the Repair and Deduct Bill, stronger rent control, a decrease in homeowner taxes, taking into consideration a family's income and stopping speculation and condo conversion once and for all. Crime will be solved through rehabilitation, jobs and education. Set up a community/business/police board as a step to combat crime, and make the police work with the community
Employment: A massive jobs and job-training program, renovating the boarded-up homes and bringing light industry to D.C. would create thousands of jobs. To repair these structures, building materials would be produced here by private and city-owned industries. By repairing the Tivoli and Howard theaters and old Children's Hospital, jobs as carpenters, electricians, cultural and social workers, etc., would be created. Laid-off public workers would be recalled and all workers would be paid trade union wages. Money from these projects would come from placing the tax burden on big business and closing tax loopholes. Statehood for D.C. means that a reciprocal tax with suburban areas would bring tax dollars from high-income suburbanites, employed in D.C. Over the next five years, D.C. taxpayers will pay $20 billion for the military budget! By cutting the military budget in half, we would have billions to pour into D.C. Support for the nuclear freeze means jobs and peace.
Ester L. McCain Jr. (Ind.), 45, of 1445 W St. NW, is a computer operator for MCI Corp. He has a B.A. in education and social welfare and has been a volunteer in a local free school. While serving a six-month sentence at Lorton, he organized an inmates' grievance committee, a family therapy program and worked to help prevent drug overdoses.
Problems: 1) Create and maintain adequate public housing. Provide the incentive necessary to initiate repairs to apartment units. Try to obtain agreements between landlords and tenants which would consist of reimbursement incentives for tenants living in public housing. 2) Improve the quality of public education. Encourage parents and teachers to work together. A PTA meeting would be used to reinforce positive relationships between both parents and teachers. 3) Provide better public services and security for senior citizens and the handicapped. Demand better accommodations in public transportation. More step lifts on Metro buses. Safety belts on all public and private van services. District cab services recognizing handicapped persons. Better security for senior citizens and handicapped persons who live in group homes and apartment complexes.
Employment: The development of imaginative and creative legislation designed to make use of vacant public facilities: use vacant and condemned public facilities for vocational schools; G.E.D. and other equivalent school programs; drug abuse and addiction centers; job development centers; medical clinics; nursing programs; cultural centers, and renovation programs. Maintain the longevity of the business community: expand the types of services which are provided to businessmen by the Small Business Administration, and tax credits and other incentives.
Frank Smith (D), 39, of 2904 18th St. NW, has represented Ward 1 on the Board of Education for three years. He has chaired the Adams Morgan Organization and Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C. He has a PhD in urban planning and is active in neighborhood redevelopment. He also taught at college level and was active in civil rights.
Problems: 1) Senior citizens are being taxed out of their homes. Inflation pushes up assessments so that they cannot afford to live in their own houses. I favor a freeze on tax rates and assessments for needy homeowners of age 62 or older. 2) Small businesses, which provide both jobs and character to our neighborhoods, are being driven out by tax rates that are burdensome compared to those of suburban Maryland and Virginia. I propose they be given a rebate, through an offset to the business franchise tax, of a portion of their unemployment compensation taxes. This will aid small businesses while protecting workers' unemployment benefits. 3) We must take the boards off vacant, run-down houses and apartment buildings, and find ways for low- and moderate-income people to become homeowners. With the right combination of government aid and creative private financing, I believe we can create a whole new kind of housing: "low-income condominiums and cooperatives."
Employment: With the whole nation's economy in the worst slump since the Great Depression, there is only so much the city can do to promote jobs in Ward 1 or anywhere else in the city. Reaganomics has us all in its grasp. But we can do some things. We can adopt tax policies that attract businesses and jobs, rather than driving them away. We can grant tax credits for neighborhood businesses that employ residents. Full funding for schools will ensure a better-trained work force, and more employable graduates. I favor more job-training programs for youth, including those in jail. I also feel strongly that the city should hire some unemployed people to clean up the trash and garbage in Ward 1. We have more litter than any other ward in the city, and I'm determined to see it cleaned up.