Marion Barry, 42, of 1236 E St. NE, is a Democrat. Presently at-large member of the City Council, he has been a member of the school board and director of Pride Inc.
What are the major challenges facing the city during the next four years and how would you address them as mayor?
I will exert bold and responsible leadership to provide direction, to establish goals and to bring about the efficient and sensitive management now absent from city government. I will set a new tone which makes it clear that, while I am mayor, the purpose of city government is to serve people efficiently and with courtesy and kindness. Mu administration will priority attention to housing, education, job development and sound fiscal policies which eliminate the need for harsh taxation. Our overriding objective will be the implementation of programs which will keep our city affordable for the people who live here now, and will maintain the richly diverse population of varied economic, racial, cultural and social backgrounds.
Some of the most crucial problems confronting many city residents are in the area of housing. As mayor, what would be your first initiatives in the area of housing?
My first steps will be to provide new leadership in the Department of Housing and to develop a comprehensive housing plan because we cannot continue to deal with housing problems on a piecemeal, band-aid basis. As stated in my housing paper, a key objective will be to increase and improve the supply of affordable housing for all residents. The Barry administration will focus on the needs of those residents now threatened with displacement or forced to lived in substandard housing. Immediate steps will include: eliminate duplication and red tape, improving coordination and instituting efficient management: establishing a new office of vacant housing to take the boards off abandoned units in order to provide housing for senior citizens and low-and moderate-income residents, creating a new office of co-op condominium conversion to work with tenant groups interested in purchasing their apartment buildings, expanding and improving implementation of low interest and deferred payment loans to low- and moderate-income homeowners to assist them in making needed home repairs and improvements; expanding and improving efforts providing low interest and deferred downpayments and mortgage loans to renter households threatened by displacement when the owner wants to sell, and expanding Section 8 federal rent subsidies.
Longer-range priorities include a D.C. rent subsidy program; programs and initiatives to encourage new housing construction; review of the housing code, improved code enforcement, and programs to help bring substandard rental housing up to code; improved managements, maintenance and security at public housing sites; temporary shelter for households evicted with no place to go and temporary storage of their belongings; an emergency repair insurance program to protect lower income households from catastrophic home repair costs, and housing counseling centers citywide and in targeted neighborhoods.
On the council, I have developed property tax measures which provide $13.9 million in tax relief this year. I have a bill before the council to repeal the D.C. utility tax, saving consumers 2.4 percent of utility bills. My efforts to keep these housing costs in check will continue in the mayor's office.