Council Primaries and Priorities

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The NBA Finals may have just wrapped up in Oakland, but here in Washington we had a bout of our own last week in the town’s favorite competitive activity: politics.

While the general election in November will determine who takes the six seats on the D.C. Council that are open this year, it is now almost certain that several of those spots will change hands.

Congratulations to Robert White, Vincent Gray and Trayon White on winning their respective Democratic primary contests and to Carolina Celnik and G. Lee Aiken for winning the Republican and Statehood Green At-Large primary contests. Likewise, congratulations to my colleague Brandon Todd for winning his primary contest as he seeks reelection in November.

I was honored to win the primary election for the Ward 2 seat on the Council. I appreciate the trust and support of my neighbors and friends to seek another four-year term.

As for the full make-up of the Council next year, that’s for the voters to decide. But we have some large tasks ahead of us that will require all the help we can get.

We continue to see elevated crime across the city. It’s critical that our elected officials work together to provide the necessary resources for our police and human services agencies.

Connected to crime, we need to continue to work to help create jobs and spur economic development all across the city. That means enacting the business and personal tax breaks that the Council passed two years ago. D.C. is the most vibrant city in America today, but it’s easier than ever for businesses to locate just across the border in Virginia and Maryland if the economics makes more sense. Those business decisions translate to lost or forgone jobs for District residents, often those who struggle the most to gain employment.

Our education system continues to improve, but too many of our children still struggle due to factors outside the classroom, lack of interest in traditional subjects or difficulty in a classroom setting. We need to utilize our schools to provide wraparound social and human services to students and adequately fund and staff those services. We also need to expand art, music, trade skills and other “alternative” educational offerings.

In addition, we need to reassess our school modernization process to ensure that we are fixing our oldest and neediest buildings. I’ll continue to fight vigorously to get the essential work done at Hyde-Addison, Francis-Stevens and Garrison, because some of their spaces are literally falling apart; in general, we need to get politics out of education and focus on need.

Finally, on our big regional issues — statehood and Metro — it’s crucial for the Council and Mayor to present a united District. I appreciate the focus Mayor Bowser has brought to the ongoing statehood struggle, and I’ll continue to beat the drum for reform and increased investment in our regional Metro transit system. But on both fronts, politics will need to take a back seat to policy, as we take our lobbying talents to Congress and to other jurisdictions.

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