Candidates for chairman of the D.C. Council were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Qualifications: Why do you want to be chairman of the D.C. Council and what is the most important reason you should be elected instead of one of your opponents?
Priorities: What three things would be your top priorities as head of the District's legislature?
David A. ("Dave") Clarke (D), 38, of 3320 17th St. NW, has represented Ward 1 on the City Council since he was elected in 1974. A graduate of Howard University Law School, he is on the D.C. Crime Commission and is active in the Washington NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Washington Urban League.
Qualifications: I seek to provide the Council with several qualities of needed leadership. Leadership must inspire a cooperative spirit. For the first half of home rule, council members squabbled with Mayor Washington and, for the second half, with themselves. For eight years, I have represented Ward 1, a microcosm of the city, by basing leadership on respect and not pretending agreement on every issue. I easily won reelection, and, when redistricting was considered, the whole ward sought to stay together. Leadership must stand for something and not just claim to be there when it happened. Bills which I have introduced, numbering more than either opponent, have addressed crime, jobs, housing, protection of senior citizens, human rights and more. Leadership must also be competent. I have had more bills become law than either opponent. My Judiciary Committee has handled the Council's most difficult issues including the development of firm but fair crime legislation.
Priorities: Crime remains an issue. The Council has passed my narcotics, bail, fencing and elderly-protection legislation, but sentencing reform remains to be considered. My sentencing-guidelines bill will reduce disparity but permit continued judicial discretion. The most challenging task will be creation of occupational opportunities through job development and quality education. I introduced legislation to provide tax credits for contributions to and investments in neighborhood-based economic development programs that provide jobs. I sponsored legislation to prepare D.C. youth for police and fire jobs and legislation prohibiting certain jobs from relocating outside D.C. I have led the Council in finding money in the budget for education. Maintenance of affordable housing remains a priority. I support the use of controls (including reasonable rent control and condominium conversion restrictions) and incentives for new construction. I am the only candidate to have consistently supported lower tax rates for residential property.
Arrington Dixon (D) (Incumbent), 39, of 1727 Massachusetts Ave. NW, has been a member of the D.C. City Council since 1975 and chairman since 1979. A former associate professor of computer technology, he has served on the boards of the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments and the National League of Cities.
Qualifications: I want to be reelected chairman of the Council because I am proud of the record of the Council under my leadership these past 3 1/2 years and want to finish the job I have begun. Under my leadership the Council has enacted hundreds of pieces of permanent legislation, many of them solving legislative problems that eluded the Council in the past. We have solved the menacing problem of the uninsured driver, we have brought cable television into view with the jobs, revenues and educational potential it offers and we have arrived at creative and effective solutions to housing problems. And under my leadership, the Council has fought tirelessly for full funding for education, restoring millions of dollars each year to the budget of the public schools, allowing them to begin their comeback from neglect and decay. I believe the voters should reelect me because I represent the future rather than the past, because I represent the broad community rather than a special interest and because I have been consistent in my desire to be chairman of the Council for the next four years.
Priorities: I plan to further defend the dream of opportunity by continuing to provide our public schools with the funds they need to best educate and train our youth, and by buffering our citizens from the worst of the Reagan cuts in housing, health and welfare. I plan to work for greater prosperity by legislating creative ways to start new businesses and add more jobs and tax revenue in such emerging areas as international trade and cable television, all the while maintaining a business climate that will keep supermarkets, print shops and other businesses from fleeing to the suburbs. And I plan to continue to strengthen the Council so we can better monitor the executive branch to see that it is carrying out the laws we enact and adequately providing the services our citizens and businesses need. That is how we will achieve full budget autonomy from the federal government and live up to the full potential of home rule.
Sterling Tucker (D), 58, of 6505 16th St. NW, a business and economic consultant, was chairman of the City Council from 1975 to 1979. Active in community projects, he is a former board member of METRO and is a former assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Qualifications: Quite simply, I want to serve my city, especially at this time of hardship for our people. The Council chairmanship, if effectively exercised, can be vital. The Council, despite congressional limitations on home rule, is a powerful body, far surpassing in its authority municipal councils elsewhere. It needs a strong chairman -- a leader, reconciler, cajoler and watchdog -- to make sure city laws are carried out as mandated, plan for the future, deal with the Congress and speak for the people. As its first elected chairman, I led the Council during a period of unsurpassed accomplishment and legislative imagination; 1,000 bills and resolutions were passed, and Congress did not veto a single one. But now, our City Council is adrift and divided. I should be elected to put the Council back on the track.
Priorities: I give highest priority to the related issues of education and jobs, as critical to the resolution of a third major problem, the safety of our citizens. Operation Rescue, the tutoring program I initiated, proves our children can learn if properly taught. The Council must support the new efforts by the school superintendent and the Board of Education to train our children for jobs that exist. We must also work to open up new jobs, and economic health in the private sector. We must back small businesses and encourage large investors. It's time to open up the New York Avenue corridor and similar areas to light-industry parks and enterprise zones. Creating jobs and making sure young people are ready to be hired for them will ultimately reduce the crime rate. But we need to move now to get the drug pushers and repeat offenders off our streets.