Democrat Ruth Dixon, considered the front-runner in the campaign for the Ward 3 D.C. City Council seat, last night denied allegations that she is the candidate of city developers.
At one of the first candidate forums in this year's council races, Mark Plotkin, a Democratic campaign consultant running for the Ward 3 seat, said that the Washington real estate political action committee had given Dixon so much support that "I think they have run out of money."
"The developers have voted in this race, and they have voted for Ruth Dixon," Plotkin said, challenging Dixon's views on rent control.
Dixon's stand on the issue distinguishes her from the other three announced candidates for the Ward 3 seat in the Democratic primary and one unannounced Republican candidate.
She told a group of about 80 people at the Forest Hills Citizens Association last night that she would have voted last year with the City Council majority when it loosened some of the city's rent control rules.
A referendum on the citywide ballot last November overturned much of the council's action, however, keeping stronger rules in place.
"We have lost rental housing every year since we have had rent control," said Dixon, a newsletter editor and publisher. "We have not built any rental housing with private funds since rent control went into effect."
When asked by a member of the audience why this should be the case when rent control does not apply to new units, Dixon said it was because banks refuse to lend money to build rental housing as long as the District is under rent control.
"That's what the industry tells me, that's what the bankers tell me," she replied when pressed on what evidence she had.
Dixon ran second to council member Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3) in the 1982 Democratic primary for the seat, and Plotkin ran third.
Shackleton has endorsed Jim Nathanson, a lawyer and schoolteacher and the Democratic chairman of Ward 3, who said last night that he supports continued rent control because it allows people on fixed incomes to stay in their homes and prevents an area like Ward 3 from becoming a "boutique city."
The other announced candidate in the Democratic primary is Mary Draper Janney, also a former schoolteacher and a political neophyte.
The unannounced Republican candidate is Gloria Corn, an advisory neighborhood commissioner who supported the referendum overturning the council's rent control action.
At a time when Ward 3 residents are expressing concern about commercial development and increased traffic along Wisconsin and Connecticut avenues, each of the candidates expressed concern for preserving the residential character of the ward.
They also said they saw a need for significant improvement in the public schools, but Nathanson said he speaks as a parent and "the only candidate who has had a kid in the public schools."
Janney called for a "czar of teen preganancy" to coordinate city programs to deal with the District's high rate of teen-age pregnancy.