The Washington Post

Short headline

It took some time and some doing, but the two Ward 7 D.C. Council combatants ended up in the same room this morning to discuss the issues. Sadly, I’m having trouble coming up with a catchier name for it than The Rumble in the Community-Supported Radio Station.

Incumbent Democrat Yvette M. Alexander did battle with feisty upstart and “Civil Rights Republican” Ronald Moten in the padded confines of WPFW-FM in Adams Morgan, the guests of “Discuss D.C.” hosts Chuck Thies and Eugene Dewitt Kinlow.

Did the padded walls prevent serious injury? Not really. The sparring was mostly civil, over the usual issues of jobs and education and crime. But there were a few fun exchanges.

Moten slammed the incumbent for allowing River Terrace Elementary to close, but Alexander slammed Moten right back for defending a school, she correctly noted, that was chronically underenrolled and supported more out of neighborhood nostalgia than sound policy.

“Let’s stop beating a dead horse,” she said.

The highest-quality sparring concerned transportation. Regarding Uber, Alexander said she was okay with the company’s app-dispatched limo service, but was skeptical of its potential attempts to move downmarket because “they are competing with our cabs.” Moten, a Ward 7 resident, said that “anyone who will come [out to Ward 7] and get us, I support them.”

Asked about the proliferation of speed cameras and the pricey tickets they dispense, Alexander went whole hog in favor of them. “There has been no complaint in Ward 7 overwhelmingly about the speed cameras,” she said, noting they have been “strategically placed … based on the recommendation and consent of our communities.

“I say raise the price of a ticket,” Alexander went on — quoting fines as high as $1,000. “I have seen the good things that have happened when people reduce their speed.” Among other things, she said, it’s now easier to merge onto Interstate 395.

Moten had a different perspective: “To charge somebody $250 for doing 10 or 15 miles over the speed limit is outrageous,” he said. “We need to give people tickets, but we don’t need to be abusive.”

There’s some populist appeal in that position, for sure. But in what is probably her most effective line of attack, Alexander pressed her advantage as a Democrat in a ward chock-full of Democrats.

Moten, besides pressing his identification as a “civil rights Republican,” said that letter next to his name on the ballot shouldn’t put off true-blue voters: “When you vote for an ‘R,’ you’re voting for Ron. You’re voting for Ron Moten.”

Alexander, asked to tout her endorsements, started with the Democratic Party: “I am the Ward 7 Democratic candidate. So there you go. Bam!”

Alexander and Moten will spar again next Friday, televised on NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt on NewsChannel 8.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.


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