Betty Ann Kane,36, is the first person to announce for one of the two at-large seats on the council that are up this year. Only one of those seats may be held by a member of the Democratic Party.
"The biggest issue in the campaign is accountability and effectiveness in city government," Kane said. City residents are noting that taxes and the cost of government are going up, she said, "and they don't see that their services are going up."
"We don't have a sense of direction now," she said. Instead there is "crisis reaction" and piecemeal decision-making."
"The city has no clear and specific housing policy, no clear goals for jobs and unemployment, no real sense of what it wants to accomplish," Kane said.
Kane's annoucement was in some respects a formality, since for weeks she has been gathering together small groups of supporters to test out her candidacy and build an organization. She has also been visible in some small protests against the lack of Metro rail subsidies for city school children.
Although she may not have to vote on many of the issues that the City Council has faced recently, she did give, in response to reporters questions, her views on some of the issues.
Kane said she is in favor of gay rights, is for strong controls to discourage real estate speculation, is not sure that the proposed down-town convention center will offer as many jobs as some of its backers contend and believes rent control is a "necessary temporary measure."
Although Kane has twice been elected to an at-large school board seat, no white has ever been chosen for an at-large council seat in the short history of limited home rule in the District, which has a population that is 70 percent black.
But Kane noted that in her 1975 board race she won 58 percent of the vote and carried seven of eight wards. "I think that election showed," she said, "that people in Washington look beyond race, look at the record. They look at the person."
Kane is a member of more than half a dozen civic and community groups and has been espicially active in women's political causes.
The chairman of her campaign is Joe Carter, a vice president at Garfinckel's who is also head of the strategy committee for the mayoral campaign of council member Marion Barry (D-at large).
Still, Kane said, her campaign would not become infused with the intense revalry between Barry and Council Chairman Sterling Tucker over the Democratic mayoral nomination."This campaign is not connected with any of the mayoral candidates," she said.