Candidates' names are listed as they will appear on the ballot. Questions
Candidates for the At-Large City Council race were asked:
1. What should the City Council do to ease the city's housing crisis?
2. What can the City Council do to improve the delivery of city services and the quality of public education? What would you do to encourage such improvements?
3. What would be your principal legislative and administrative priorities if elected to the Council?
Jackson R. Champion (Independent), 56, of 607 4th St. SW, is a publisher. He has been active in several community groups.
Champion has combined his answers to all three questions.
The mayor and City Council have not been able to bring about employment for all, housing for all, better city services for all, nor a reduction in the crime rates. Crime rates are rising, sales taxes are rising, the school board budget has risen, yet we still have children that are uneducated and not prepared to enter the job market.
We have inspectors that do not inspect-mistaken judgment or corruption? The special interest groups get richer, and the poor seem to get poorer. What is the answer? We must have an opposition-opposition that will lower the prices for auto tags, opposition that will cut sales taxes instead of raising them. We need opposition that will research and introduce workable solutions to the District revenue problems in order that the property taxes can be lowered, the prices for auto tags can be lowered and sales taxes can be lowered.
Jackson R. Champion has a plan. There are 28,000 registered Independent voters, 22,000 registered Republicans and 100,000 registered Democrats who are not satisfied. The people of the District are now ready for a change, aren't you?
In the last City Council at-large race, Jackson R. Champion received 12,000 votes, making him one of the few candidates that received over 10,000 votes. The democratic party dominates our city's political process to the extent that there is a one-party rule in the District. Is this a good thing for the voters of the District? Are we willing to be a pawn in the hands of bad government?
Jackson R. Champion is attempting to bring Independents, Republicans and Democrats together who are looking for good government and will form a coalition.
Chamion supports the rights of the people to have referendums, such as on the convention center, legalizing gambling, decriminalizing marijuana, and the rights of the District residents to hold the jobs of the District. The people have a right to participate in decisions that will decide the future of their children.
Remember that, you who are one of the 28,000 Independent voters or 22,000 Republicans and one of the 100,000 Democrats who are dissatisfied with the District government. You have a vote May 1, 1979. It could be the most important vote in your life. Do you want a different government or are you looking for the same old one-party rule that is tilted toward special interest groups or do you want a government that will take your needs into consideration?
Sturat D. Rosenblatt (U.S. Labor Party), 28, of 1701 16th St. NW, is chairman of the D.C. Labor Party.
Rosenblatt has combined his answers to all three questions.
My priorities would revolve around the following questions: Does the U.S. have the moral and intellectual guts needed to survive? Many people sense the country is going through dangerous times and may not survive. In October 1976, the U.S. Labor Party warned the country that if Jimmy Carter was elected president the U.S. would be plunged into thermonuclear war. Now the U.S. is engaged in the countdown leading to that war. Why? The U.S. has committed itself to a policy of vicious international austerity. The U.S. is backing British-International Monetary Fund demands to deny the basic necessities of life to populations of the underdeveloped sector. The Carter administration is imposing similar brutal austerity policies on you also. Look at your gasoline prices!
This policy of imposed world depression is the immediate cause for nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The hot spots are set to blow: Israel, Afghanistan and South Africa. And unbeknownst to most of you the U.S. is involved in major maneuvers leading to war now. These maneuvers are called Global Shield. The entire Strategic Air Command is involved in simulated nuclear war. To top this off, President Carter has been granted "emergency totalitarian powers" through the adoption of PRM 32 this past March 27, to assume dictatorial control of the nation, "in case of emergencies."
Now is the time to support the Labor Party. Your failure to act now means you have condemned you family to burn in the thermonuclear war or at best to be squeezed dead in a period of brutal Hitlerian austerity.
What can you do to stop this policy? How can you stop being a sucker for James Schlesinger's and Jimmy Carter's policies?
There is no energy crisis. There is no oil shortage. Again Schlesinger is lying. What you must do is quit believing Carter and Schlesinger and support the Labor Party call for more nuclear power, fusion power and high technology energy development. This means millions of skilled, high-paying jobs.
There is no need for a business recession. Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Miller of the Fed are lying. The prime rate must be drastically reduced for productive investment (down 3-4 percent) and wages must rise with the cost of living. The Labor Party has outlined hundreds of programs for the economic development including the European Monetary System and a policy for technology-for-oil trade with Mexico. We can guarantee 100 years of prosperity-and no inflation.
David G. Harris (Democrat), 40, of 413 L St. NW, is an administrative clerk.
1. The government should unboard all of its boarded properties and put them all in the hands of the church on a homesteading basis. The government should turn over all of its housing projects to the church and let them run the properties.
2. Fire those employes who are not doing their job concerning city services. Investigate the reason why services are not being rendered. Get rid of the Board of Education and let the superintendent do the job of the board. Make sure that the teachers have the materials they need to teach and make sure the students have the supplies they need to learn. Encourage more participation in the PTA.
3. Revamp the employment office. Revamp the Department of Human Resources. Request that the police be on the streets instead of their automobiles.
Lin Covington (Democrat), 1308 Morris Rd. SE, is a community worker. He declined to respond to The Washington Post questionnaire.
Richard Blanks Sr. (Democrat), 35, of 1018 Southern Ave. SE, is an education and employment specialist. He has been a D.C. public school teacher, a manpower development specialist in neighborhood job centers, director of education for the International Association of Fire Fighters and a member of the AFL-CIO-CLC.
1. Unboard privately owned and government-owned buildings, renovate and sell at cost commensurate with income. Encourage private businesses, minority and majority, to develop and construct homes and co-ops. Give tax incentives for such developments. Make sure that people occupying government-subsidized housing need and qualify to be there.
2. By improving and increasing services of consumer affairs (protection) office. Often, residents do not know where to go to obtain the correct information and solution to the problem(s). We must first identify the correct person and office that handles the problem, then assist with the solution. Improving the quality of public education involves improving the quality of those involved. Namely: students, parents, community, teachers, administrators and government. We must recognize that all students are not interested in purely academic fields. More vocational fields must be included if the quality of public education is to be improved. A complete orientation, follow-up and testing program must be implemented in junior and senior high schools.
3. Employment and education would be my principal legislative and administrative priorities if elected to the council. Housing, Metro construction, rent control, convention center, tax incentives to bring in industry and legalizing gambling are all important issues. However, if unemployment continues to rise and education continues to result in low achievements, success on any or all of the issues above mean little. A complete orientation (pre and post) recruitment, follow-up and testing program should be implemented in District job service centers as well as in public schools. As a City Council member, I would see that such legislation is realized to work on the number one crisis-employment and education.
Frannie Goldman (Independent), 38, of 2013 O St. NW, is a housewife and a real estate broker specializing in downtown office and retail properties.
1. All cities have housing problems. Ours have been exacerbated by rent control, which has resulted in property owners fleeing the rental market and reducing maintenance in properties that don't yield a good profit. We need to take ta totally different tack. I think we should phase out rent control, replacing it with subsidies for low-income and elderly residents. Rent control taxes only property owners; all taxpayers should share the cost of helping to provide housing for those in strained circumstances.
And while we are encouraging property owners to own and maintain rental units, I think we should be making every effort to produce more rental units. We must rehabilitate D.C.'s unused and rundown housing stock and help low- and moderate-income people to own or rent. The mayor's proposed programs are on target, but we need to go further. There are many vacant lots and vacant buildings owned by the city's Redevelopment Land Agency which should be joint-ventured with private industry to, provide additional rental units; these lots and buildings are extremely valuable, and what is more, they are a resource we already have.
This is by no means our only 'neglected' resource. In the past, we have lost out on a great deal of urban aid which might have been available, had the District pursued it through aggressiveness and thorough grantsmanship. This is equivalent to throwing out money. We must make sure Washington receives all the federal grant money for urban housing to which it is entitled.
Another possibility: tax incentives to stimulate new apartment construction and ownership. All we've done so far is to provide disincentives through rent control legislation.
In short, there is much the City Council can contribute to ease our housing squeeze. But we have to be more economically realistic, aggressive and creative.
2. There are a number of city services which need immediate attention. We need to shape up our water department; we must have a fair and functioning metering and billing system.
By conforming D.C. tax forms to the federal format, we could save considerable headaches to taxpayers, as well as at least $3 million a year in administrative costs. And we'd have a more progressive tax structure.
We've got to scrutinize how D.C. real estate tax assessments are made to ensure that they are fair. And we need to institute ways of providing real estate tax relief, such as reverse annuities, for our elderly citizens on fixed incomes who cannot now meet the spiraling real estate tax costs.
Finally, we must institute periodic review of all the city's department to see where inefficiencies exist and where costs can be cut. Washington seems to have both more city employes and more problems in delivering city services than other cities its size. This is not efficient.
Another 'service' that we taxpayers are paying for is our public school system. As a former teacher, I know how relevant good teaching is to learning. We must be sure that the people entering our children's classrooms are fully capable of good teaching. I think there should be certification procedures for all teachers, procedures which will test professional competency before a teacher is hired by our public schools. At the moment, there are many inadequate teachers in the classroom-and many excellently qualified teachers languishing on our public school waiting lists.
We need to explore instituting compulsory arbitration mechanisms to mediate dispute between the school board and the D.C. Teachers' Union. Other jurisdictions have done so; we can't allow the education of our city's children to be hamstrung by the inability of these two groups to come to agreement.
We need to establish more demonstration projects such as the successful Six School Complex, which my children are fortunate in attending.
Finally, not every student in the public schools will go on to college, and unemployment among teen-agers and young adults is a major problem in D.C. Vocational training must be revamped. Our teen-agers need on-the-job training, with pay, while still in school. Business will help because our youngsters are their work force tomorrow. And in planning, let's get rid of the blue collar stigma. Work is work, and it can be financially and spiritually rewarding at all levels. Not working is what is personally painful and publicly expensive.
3. My principal legislative priorities will be to increase our government's efficiency, to take a new direction in housing and urban development, to take steps to clean up our urban environment and to improve education and employment opportunities for our citizens.
Douglas Moore (Democrat), 50, of 1300 Newton St. NE, is a minister. He has been a member of the D.C. City Council and has served as assistant project direct of the Shaw Urban Renewal Projects. He also has served as an officer in several community groups and was the founder of the Black United Front and the Black United Fund.
1. Faced with major pressure on its housing market which threatens to displace a significant portion of the District's population, the District of Columbia Council has since 1974 adopted a series of housing market interventions. These interventions, which include rent control, condo and co-op control, and the real estate (speculation) transfer tax, eviction reform, right of first refusal for purchase to tenants, should be viewed as a package of programs. These programs were never designed as permanent, but were directed toward slowing down the conversion of rental units to serving exclusively high-income populations. It was assumed that the District government would develop alternative methods of influencing the housing industry to serve the portion of the District's population which would otherwise be abandoned.
The D.C. Council, in concert with the mayor, must now develop these methods of influencing the industry to serve low- and moderate-income households. This may involve several components, but the most important job to be done is for the D.C. Council to understand, objectively, the housing crisis. One important step is to develop a statistical base on which to make objective housing decisions. Further, it is imperative that the D.C. Council not tamper with current laws and programs until it knows what the impact of changing such laws will be. Changes in the current market interventions may be needed, but we must know the impact of such changes.
2. The District government needs good management. That is the job of the mayor. As a member of the council I would certainly encourage good management by the mayor. However, as a member of the council the most important thing I can do is to encourage, support and organize and involved public-involved citizens. When our District citizenry demands better service delivery, then we will solve that problem. Now it is only more affluent neighborhoods that demand service delivery-our lower-income neighborhoods and minority neighborhoods must also demand service delivery. As a member of the council I will do that.
The District of Columbia does not view public education a a priority. We spend more money on public safety than public education. As a member of the council I will continue to insist that a set and larger amount of our District budget be directed toward quality public education.
3. My principal legislative and administrative priorities will be: 1) an objective statistical data base on which to make housing policy and legislative decisions in order to house the people who live in D.C.; 2) advocating for legislation for a set budget percentage for the D.C. public schools; 3) D.C. Council legislation to slove problems of utilities-like the elimination of the fuel adjustment charge, the consumer bill of rights, life-line pricing, etc.; 4) working for a moratorium on condominium conversions.
John Ray (Democrat), 35, of 1350 E. St. NE, is an attorney. He has been a law clerk with the U.S. Court of Appeals, counsel to a Senate subcommittee and has worked at the Justice Department.
1. The housing crisis in the District of Columbia is particularly serious for those of low- to moderate-income who have few options and housing alternatives when faced with displacement in a market in which the average house for sale is $80,000. However, the first thing to understanding about the housing crisis is that it did not result from a failure of our citizens or the housing industry. Rather, it is a result of the failure of government. Private industry has provided housing for those able to afford market rates while government has failed to generate low- and moderate-income housing with funds from federal housing programs. Since 1975 the city has received $16,672,000 from the Community Development Block Grant Program. Only $2,050,000 was allocated to the Urban Homesteading Program. Of this, only $734,323 has actually been expended, resulting in less than 100 houses placed in the hands of low- and moderate-income residents.
There are several things that the City Council can do through legislation that would help to relieve this problem and maintain an available stock of moderately priced housing units for rent or collective ownership.
The council should provide protection to renters from conversions by extending the notice time and by providing technical and financial assistance to allow tenants to exercise their option to purchase their buildings. When tenants can purchase their building, it saves the units for themselves and prevents conversion to units they cannot afford.
The council should also establish a displacement office or adjunct to the Rental Accommodations Office that would provide technical assistance and financial subsidies to tenant groups facing conversions. The council should also require a certain percentage of converted units to be sold or rented to low/moderate-income families and could establish a formula placing a ceiling on the allowable sales prices for such units. In San Francisco, for example, laws limit the sales price of converted units to 100 times the monthly rent. The council should also require, in newly constructed apartment buildings, a certain percentage be set aside for low/moderate-income families.
Incentives must be created for owners to maintain housing opportunities for low/moderate-income families. The council can achieve this through a variety of tax abatement programs. For example, a tax freeze over a certain time period could be established for new and existing rental buildings or cooperatives that accommodate low/moderate-income tenants. Abatements also need to be created for low/moderate-income homeowners who make improvements to their homes. As the laws are currently structured, real estate owners of all types are penalized with higher taxes when improvements are made to living units thus driving up rents, abandoment and eviction.
We need to establish a housing finance agency and to develop a housing policy for our city that addresses not only the current housing crisis but establishes a foundation for planned future growth.
2. For close to a century, Congress used the District as a drop site for political patronage appointees. Most of these appointees' interest in the District was temporary. This lack of interest in the future of our city has resulted in inefficient and ineffective departments.
The Merit Personnel Act will do much to remedy outdated personnel procedures. The Delivery of services, aside from budgetary authorization is a function of the executive branch. The mayor must ensure that every agency is operating efficiently in delivery of service. However, the council has oversight responsibility to see that our departments are operating efficiently in the delivery of serive. I plan to push and prod to make sure that the appropriate committees of the council carry out their oversight responsibilities and that our citizens are getting the services they deserve and that their dollars are spent wisely.
Education should be a priority at the City Council. I will urge the chairman and the council to restore the Committee on Education so that the council will have a full-time staff able to work constructively with the mayor and the Board of Education.
An improved educational system in the District is important to providing qualified, skilled manpower to the city's job market and relieving staggering unemployment figures. Specifically, I would like to see the mayor, council and parents giving more support to schools and teachers. Classroom sizes and student/teacher ratios should be reduced.
3. The John Ray agenda will be to work on six key problem areas. Solid in-roads into these areas will make great strides in solving our other problems. These six areas are: adequate housing for all our citizens; a taxing system that encourages economic development to create more and better jobs; a good public school system; a work force that has the skills for the job market; reduction of welfare rolls by providing day care; job training and opportunities, and elimination of excessive waste in government.
Warren A. Hemphill Sr. (Independent), 43, of 2207 31st Place SE, is a parole officer at the D.C. Department of Corrections. He is chief steward for professionals of Local 1550 of the American Federation of Government Employes at the Department of Corrections. He has been active in various community affairs and pastor of area churches.
1. Most importantly, the residents of the District must elect a candidate like me, who is sensitive to the needs of the people and will work toward meeting those needs. The failure of the council to enact laws to ease the District's housing crisis is the direct result of the one-party rule and political machine supported by big business and big money.
Until council persons are elected who don't have to respond to the big money and big business lobbyists who helped to put them in office and who, for the most part, are non-D.C. residents, we are not going to get decent housing legislation. This was demonstrated recently when there were not enough votes on the council to enact the 90 day condominium conversion moratorium opposed by the city's real estate industry.
I am unbought, unbossed and unbiased. Therefore, while I recognize the vital importance of business to our community, I could never compromise the best interests of the city residents. The only viable solutions to our housing problems are not easily reached because they must take both factions into account.
Because I am not controlled by the political machine or big-money lobbyists, when elected I will work with D.C. residents to develop and enact legislation that is fair and represents exhaustive research of the District's housing problems. These laws will provide for a long-range and comprehensive housing plan based on a careful analysis of the city's present and projected housing needs.
2. Our city services can only be as good as those who are responsible for them. As a D.C. government employe, I am sadly aware of the negative effect that cronyism, fostered by the one-party rule, has had on all of our city services and on our school system. Cronyism has promoted incompetent people to positions of authority, while preventing talented employes from advancing. The result is poor administration and low worker morale. We not only suffer from abuses of merit promotions through preselection, but also from abuses in adverse personnel actions. As a council person, one of my primary concerns would be to assure promotion and hiring based on proficiency, not on friendship.
As a council person, I would use the three powerful levers available to ensure quality city services. First, a council person can legislate services into being and legislate the manner in which these services must be delivered. Secondly, the council has the power of the purse string over city administration and can withhold funding from ineffective services. Finally, the council has the ability to investigate. Because of my lifetime in the District and my current job, I am in a particularly advantageous position to know all of our city services and school system on a very basic level. Every day I work with the courts, public health, mental health, public housing, food stamps, foster care, etc. Right now, I know what works and what doesn't. As a council person, I would serve as a watchdog for the welfare of the people.
In regard to our schools, for years educators have attempted to get parents concerned about their children's education and into the schools. Funds should be provided to allow our schools to be more adaptable and go out to the parents. It is time that community leaders begin to take responsibility for bringing parents and teachers together. Otherwise, we will continue to see ignorance, hopelessness, crime and the other evils that arise from the current standoff. It does very little good to debate about who is really responsible for our children's behavior, their value systems and so forth. We all are, and we must all insist that every child have every opportunity for excellence in education so that every child will be able to survive in our complicated society.
3. To help loosen the controls of the one-party rule that completely dominates the political process in this city and that appoint only Democrats to key jobs who are responsible to the Democratic machine, I will work for passage of a law that would give the District residents fairer repersentation on the City Council. As there is an at large seat reserved for Republicans, who only number some 22,000 in Washington, there should also be an at-large seat reserved for the Independents, who number 28,000.
I will address the issues of crime, education, housing, mental health, health care, unemployment, senior citizens' programs, city government employe concerns, teen-age unemployment and equal rights.
I will want to serve on the council's Operations Committee, where I could be involved in legislation for government programs and personnel actions. I want assured promotion and hiring based on competency and not on friendship and other factors.
I want to be actively involved in the re-writing of the D.C. Criminal Code and work toward making our criminal justice system more effective.
I will set aside one day a week to meet with city residents and D.C. government employes.
Hector Rodriguez (Democrat), 36, of 2121 P St. NW, worked for Lyndon Johnson's administration in the Office of Minority Programs, was deputy vice president of the National-Urban Coalition, was vice chairman of the D.C. Committee to Support Home Rule, was a commissioner of the D.C. Latino Development Commission and was an adviser for D.C. Project Build and Project Pride.
1. To ease housing crists: The root cause is greed, racism and inept leadership by government and industry. The resources and technology required are here. What is needed is what I wish to bring to the problem-creative leadership and a unified consumer-taxpayer movement, which will not yield to the callous, vested interests who prey on the working poor, senior citizens and other disadvantaged consumer-taxpayers.
Priorities: Enforce fair and equitable rent control to protect the poor and senior citizens; immediately convene leadership from housing, industry, tenants organizations, UNCP, civic associations and local government and forge a unified partnership; enact a blueprint for increased citywide housing with economic mix that is affordable to all taxpayer-consumers; update training programs and utilize unemployed to build housing; contractual and employment preference for D.C. taxpayer-consumers; lower rents by lowering utilities and taxes, raise vast capital for homesteading program, mortgage deferment and low interest loans; prepare citizens for home ownership.
2. to improve delivery of city services: Ensure efficient management at the top, committed to serve and not to rule the taxpayer-consumers; integrate all related programs under specific units; enact zero-based budgeting to ensure planning by objectives and proper substantiation of budgetary requests; decentralize delivery of human services at the neighborhood level; ensure accountability from top to bottom.
Improving quality education: Increase school budge 17 percent to 30 percent, in line with other municipalities the size of D.C.; set the standard for efficient education that will prepare students academically and professionally to be able to compete on an equal basis in the D.C. job market; adjust curriculum to career education; preferential hiring for D.C. teachers and all personnel in the system who are taxpayer-consumers; ensure material and human resources for the students; provide for parent-teacher interaction to ensure continuous reinforcement.
To encourage improvement: Provide leadership on behalf of the taxpayer-consumer which emphasizes unity and does not yield to the money junkies or political power brokers; convene a taxpayers convention to develop a human development agenda and set legislative priorities; utilize the courts should the democratic process be circumvented by the vested interests.
3. Principal legislative and administrative priorities: Protection of human rights; eliminate oppressive laws; reduce taxes, rents, utility costs, health care costs; revitalize D.C. Consumer Office; promote public safety via mutual respect with police and residents; establish federal programs unit to retrieve most of $1.5 billion we pay in taxes, and clean the Potomac!
H. Chris Brown (Democrat), 60, of 1600 H St. SE, is an administrator.
1. My view is the City Council should put forth a plan to provide enough houses for the low- and moderate-income families. Make use of Homestead Act. Unboard city-owned houses, inform and educate the neighborhood in securing low-interest rates. A ceiling should remain on rents. Condominiums should be held at a minimum and through PASS-Progressing, Advancing, Serving and Success-which is a program of organized neighborhood groups, ease the city's housing crisis with leadership.
2. The council can useits leadership through effective personnel to improve the delivery of city services through preventive maintenance in the area of heavy equipment, machines, vehicles, roads and grounds and many others. The quality of education should first take place in the neighborhood. My program of PASS could very well give spirit and hope for many to pass forward. Since education is at this stage, I would suggest teaching the three Rs for a half day and the other half in humanities. Both are badly needed because most of the learning and training is projected outside the home these days.
3. My principal legislative and administrative priorities would be in the area of housing and jobs. A program such as PASS could benefit the elderly as well as the young. The program coupled with the square block program has benefits that would give spirit and hope in the short - and long - range. People involved in the project would engage in whatever their endeavor may be The endeavor or assignment may be a large one or a small one. It is merely to condition the mind to strive for excellency. These people will be properly identified that they are the future pioneers in air, space and sea. As the national economy picks up, these groups should be atune as the country was during the Apollo moon project. The funding of a program of this type would be very small, structured along with existing neighborhood programs.
To introduce legislation, to increase money in the budget since in the very near future the District government and Congress will have completed the audit by Senator Symington. The District government will have the opportunity to show the true needs of thisciill have the opportunity to show the true needs of this city, to fix roads, streets, alleys, sidewalks and houses in the District. The repair in this area has been neglected too long in the neighborhoods. CAPTION: Picture 1, Champion; Picture 2, Rosenblatt; Picture 3, Harris; Picture 4, Blanks; Picture 5, Goldman; Picture 6, Moore; Picture 7, Ray; Picture 8, Hemphill; Picture 9, Rodriguez; Picture 10, H. C. Brown