The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Here’s who The Post endorses for D.C. Council and state education board

D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) at a news conference in Northeast Washington in April 2021. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The District is so heavily Democratic, general elections can seem like an afterthought. Not so this year. On the ballot Nov. 8 are spirited contests for seats on the D.C. Council and the State Board of Education, and the stakes are high. The coronavirus pandemic’s lingering impacts pose big challenges for the city: how to revive a dormant downtown, how to combat a spike in crime, how to make up for student learning loss. Despite these challenges, the council’s members have in recent years appeared more interested in advancing ideological goals than in providing pragmatic solutions.

In the contest for two at-large seats on the council — the races attracting the most attention with a field of eight candidates — we endorse independent candidates D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie and Graham McLaughlin.

All of The Post's endorsements for D.C., Maryland, Virginia elections on Nov. 8

Mr. McLaughlin, a first-time candidate who would bring to the council the best promise of change, is our first choice. An executive at a global health services organization, Mr. McLaughlin has a rich history of community involvement, including opening his home to recently released offenders. He uses data to attack problems, and his experience incubating small businesses has schooled him in how to scale up successful programs and pull the plug on those that don’t work — abilities in short supply on the council.

Of the three incumbents seeking a return to the council, Mr. McDuffie is the clear choice. Anita Bonds (D-At Large) has had a lackluster tenure on the council; Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) has helped to lead the council’s ideological tilt. Mr. McDuffie has ably represented Ward 5 since 2012. He declined to seek reelection from the ward in an effort to run for D.C. attorney general, which failed when the board of elections ruled him ineligible. He can still serve the city with his balanced approach to lawmaking in which he listens to all sides and carefully weighs issues. Of particular note has been his focus on small businesses as a way to grow the local economy.

Of the other council seats on the ballot — the chairman’s and those representing Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6 — only the race in Ward 3 has turned into a real contest. As the Democratic nominee, Matthew Frumin is likely to win, and there is much to recommend him. Long active in the community, Mr. Frumin knows its needs, and he strives to bring people together. But he leans left, and that’s not the direction the council — or city — needs. Republican opponent David Krucoff is a centrist who argues for lower taxes, better support for the police and continuing mayoral control of schools. These are the right positions, and one-party rule has been unhealthy for D.C., so we endorse Mr. Krucoff and urge Ward 3 voters to give him a close look.

For the State Board of Education, we endorse Eric Goulet in Ward 3, Carisa Stanley Beatty in Ward 5 and Brandon Best in Ward 6. Mr. Goulet is a former city budget director whose encyclopedic knowledge will help the board as it undertakes a much-needed study of pupil funding. Ms. Beatty created a program that provides financial assistance to those seeking to own their own homes, and she is the parent of a child in D.C. schools, so she is familiar with families’ everyday concerns. Mr. Best has 18 years of experience as an educator and school administrator and smart ideas on how to improve parental engagement.

Also on the ballot but facing token opposition are Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), all of whom we endorsed in the primary and continue to support.

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Editorials represent the views of The Washington Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the Editorial Board, based in the Opinions section and separate from the newsroom.

Members of the Editorial Board and areas of focus: Editorial Page Editor David Shipley, Deputy Editorial Page Editor Karen Tumulty; Associate Opinion Editor Stephen Stromberg (elections, the White House, Congress, legal affairs, energy, the environment, health care); Jonathan Capehart (national politics); Lee Hockstader (immigration; issues affecting Virginia and Maryland); David E. Hoffman (global public health); Charles Lane (foreign affairs, national security, international economics); Heather Long (economics); Associate Editor Ruth Marcus; and Molly Roberts (technology and society).