WITH MAYOR Muriel E. Bowser (D), Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D), D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) — all of whom we have endorsed — facing nominal challenges in their reelection bids, the spotlight is on D.C. Council contests. Six incumbents — in Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6, and two at-large members — are seeking new terms.
Getting the most attention have been the at-large races. Six candidates are vying for two seats, but the race essentially comes down to incumbents Anita Bonds (D) and Elissa Silverman (I) and Anacostia restaurant owner Dionne Reeder (I). Our sole endorsement goes to Ms. Reeder. Her experience and sensibilities would bring needed balance to a legislative body that too often caters to the activists who pack council hearings and not to the businesses and residents who must foot the bills.
Ms. Bonds has the electoral edge as the Democratic candidate, but her tenure on the council has been lackluster. Ms. Silverman, on the other hand, has established herself as a strong presence. She showed leadership in speaking out about the anti-Semitic comments of another council member. But we have profound policy disagreements with Ms. Silverman (notably her championing of unwieldy paid family leave legislation that punishes businesses that already provide the benefit) and don’t think her caustic treatment of people makes for good governing.
Ms. Reeder has a rich background: Capitol Hill experience; community service work that included helping young people get into college and fighting youth violence; a stint as Ward 8 neighborhood services coordinator for former mayor Anthony Williams; small-business owner. She knows the realities of running a business but also the troubles of people in struggling neighborhoods, including, from the personal experience of losing a sister, the heartbreak of gun violence.
In Ward 1, incumbent Brianne K. Nadeau (D) is the preferred choice over independent challenger Jamie Sycamore. We also endorse the incumbents in Ward 5, Kenyan R. McDuffie (D), and Ward 6, Charles Allen (D). But we think voters in Ward 3 should consider Petar A. Dimtchev, the independent challenging Mary M. Cheh (D). Ms. Cheh has grown during her two terms in office — her handling of “death with dignity” legislation was particularly deft — but her continued efforts to undermine mayoral control of education is worrying. Mr. Dimtchev, a lawyer who was former mayor Adrian Fenty’s community liaison for Ward 3, is focused on bread-and-butter issues such as fixing potholes, helping small businesses and reducing school overcrowding.
Also on the Nov. 6 ballot are four seats for the D.C. StateBoard of Education. Our choice for Ward 1 is Jason Andrean, a longtime education advocate who has a keen understanding of issues facing charter and traditional schools. Ward 3 incumbent Ruth Wattenberg has been an effective advocate for Ward 3 but a negative influence on the board, notably opposing the strict accountability standards of the system’s new STAR rating system; we instead recommend challenger Dora Currea, a retired Spanish instructor, who rightly says the achievement gap must be a priority. In Ward 5, our choice is Zachary Parker, a former teacher who now coaches principals and administrators and can bring real-world experiences to policy decisions. Jessica Sutter is our choice over incumbent Joe Weedon in Ward 6 because of her multi-pronged experience as a teacher working in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education and as a senior adviser to the deputy mayor for education. We like her emphasis on helping parents navigate the education system.