Richard Landis, a lawyer and a member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, yesterday announced his Sept. 9 primary bid for the Ward 1 D.C. Council seat held by Frank Smith.
Landis, 38, who announced his candidacy at Adams-Morgan park, said in a later interview that his campaign will stress city services for the Spanish-speaking population and education for young people to prevent teen-age pregnancies. He said he will call for tougher efforts by police to arrest high-level drug dealers who prosper from PCP sales in his ward.
He is the first candidate to challenge Smith, a Democrat who is running for a second term.
"The Spanish children and adults in our community cannot be taken for granted," he said. "They are an important part of the fabric of our neighborhood. They may not be voters yet, but we cannot forget that they are here."
In his law practice, Landis said he handles many cases involving juveniles facing criminal charges and that about half of them have involved PCP use and sale.
"The kids selling and buying PCP are easy targets for the police and the prosecutors," he said. "They make good statistics for convictions. I feel there hasn't been a concentrated effort to go up the ladder and get the distributors."
Proposing stepped-up education programs to prevent teen-age pregnancies, Landis said he sees children "who have given birth to children. And each generation grows up without the parenting that an adult can give a child."
Landis criticized Smith's support for a baseball team in Washington and accused the councilman of spending too much time traveling with regard to the baseball issue and too little time within Ward 1.
An apartment renter, Landis said he supports the rent control law and wants to see it become permanent legislation, not subject to "this silly exercise every three or four years to renew the exisiting legislation under emergency powers."
He said he became a candidate after offering his support to five people, all of whom decided not to run. Then, he said, other people started to ask him to run for the office.
"I tried on the jacket and it felt good in the shoulders," he said. "Now we are trying to raise the sleeves."