In an editorial last week on the Democratic primary election for City Council chairman, The Post recommended "without hesitation" the choice of council member Arrington Dixon over council member Douglas E. Moore. Today, at our invitation, Moore responds.
The recent endorsement of my challenger by The Washington Post raises some very interesting questions for D.C. voters. First, is The Post emphasizing differences between candidates based on personal or policy issues? Is a candidate for public office evaluated by "incidents" or policy positions? Is Sen. Edward Kennedy renowned for the tragedy in his personal life or for his public performance? Is my challenger better known for his arrest on morals charges? Shall I be judged by alleged "incidents" or my public record on the issues?
If we judge our officials by their private lives and "incidents," we are doing the people of the city a great disservice. Nonetheless, this has been the thrust of the media campaign over the years. Should this be the important factor, then let us be evenhanded. Mr. Dixon was arrested on morals charges. My arrest came with Dr. [Martin Luther] King trying to help people during the civil-rights effort. In this respect, Mr. Dixon has the worst record.
If we judge out officials by their public roles, then certainly The Post would emphasize more than a person producing a post-card registration form. I feel that it is more important for the voters to understand the fundamental policy differences between the candidates for chairman and what that portends for our future in this city.
When it comes to liberal legislation, condominium conversions, rent control, property taxes, "loopholes" for special interests, there are fundamental differences between us. I have one of the best records on these public issues, and Mr. Dixon is far from it. I think the voters have the right to know the truth about a candidate's public position, the influence of special interests upon them, and to see the official transcripts and voting records. That serves to inform voters toward making a choice in their self-interest; this rather than giving them images and "celebrity endorsements" that may serve others' interests.
Because I believe in public integrity and accountability and because I want the District's new home-rule voters to be "enlightened voters," I took the time to write a well-documented book that none have disputed or criticized. While one cannot expect The Post to match this effort, I certainly feel that it can help inform citizens of the past legislative efforts and actions of both candidates and the direction of the city's legislation should either become chairman.
My endorsements speak well to those voters who are informed on the issues - and choose in their self-interest; the Citywide Housing Coalition, the Central Labor Council, 126 churches and Council 20 of AFSCME. They point to the candidate who has served, and will continue to serve, their interests. Similarily, my challenger's endorsements speak well of those interests that he has served - most notably, the Commerce and Industry Group of the Washington Board of Trade and the Metropolitan Political Action Committee of the Apartment and Office Building Association, both of whom have made substantial contributions to his campaign and can be heard daily running radio ads in their name for him. Yes, he would continue to serve their interests.
What, then, are the interests that would be served? What is the potential legislative differences between a course charted by either of us as chairman? That was the responsibility of The Post to discover and report; and that is its failure in political journalism. Now they will find out only in hindsight.
Editor's note: If what Moore is saying is that officials should be judged by "their public roles" rather than their "private lives," we agree - and so indicated. Our editorial stated that "quite aside from those well-publicized incidents in which his judgment has come into question, he has failed as a legislator." But since Moore seems to wish to compare his record in this respect with Dixon's, we think we have a responsibility to provide the clarifying, key facts.
As to Dixon's arrest on a charge of soliciting sex from a policewoman a posing as a prostitute, Dixon has pointed out that he was not in public office at the time and that the case was never prosecuted "so it must have been an error or a mistake."
As to Moore's assertion that he was arrested "with Dr. King," we find no record of that arrest. The "incidents" we had in mind involved 1) his having allegedly thrown rocks through a woman's window after ramming his car into hers, and 2) a conviction and fine on assault charges for biting a tow-truck driver.