Candidates spar at first-ever Safeway forum

Photo by Judith Beermann
Candidates Sekou Biddle, Joshua Lopez, Jacque Patterson, Vincent Orange, Bryan Weaver
Candidates Sekou Biddle, Joshua Lopez, Jacque Patterson, Vincent Orange, Bryan Weaver

The Georgetown Dish and The Georgetown Current co-hosted a forum Wednesday at the Social Safeway on Wisconsin Avenue for candidates running for the At-large D.C. Council seat up for grabs in a Special Election April 26, a first-ever event for the national chain and the first D.C. candidate forum held in a Safeway.

Moderator Beth Solomon introduces Greg Ten Eyck, Safeway's regional head of government affairs, who hosted the debate (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Moderator Beth Solomon introduces Greg Ten Eyck, Safeway's regional head of government affairs, who hosted the debate

The Georgetown Dish will provide comprehensive coverage in further posts, but the verdict on Wednesday's debate was that the top five candidates are in a spirited contest with no obvious leader as yet. Jacque Patterson, a Desert Storm veteran and Ward 8 ANC Commissioner, distinguished himself by calling for the resignation of Alcohol Beverage Control Board Chairman Charles Brodsky, who has caused controversy throughout the city with what some call an anti-neighborhood bias on alcohol issues and charges of conflict-of-interest due to his private business interests.

Dorothy Douglas (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Dorothy Douglas
While Brodsky yesterday recused himself from the Board's decision on George -- a Georgetown nightclub which seeks to lift noise and capacity restrictions on its current alcohol permit -- candidates Sekou Biddle, Joshua Lopez, Patterson, Vincent Orange and Bryan Weaver criticized the conflict presented by Brodsky's private and public roles, some using the word "inappropriate."

Ousted Hardy Middle School Principal Patrick Pope -- who attended the forum across the street from his now troubled school -- received loud cheers and applause from the audience of 100+ when he was recognized for building the school into one of the city's best. "Getting into Hardy for people I've known was like winning the lottery," said Bryan Weaver of Ward 1. "We love Patrick Pope," said former Councilmember Vincent Orange, whose three children attended schools with Pope as a beloved principal and mentor.

All the candidates expressed support for Pope's return to the school, saying he should be allowed to re-apply for his old job after months of rotating principals, disciplinary problems, and turmoil. "It's a mess," said Lopez of Hardy.

Safeway's Greg Ten Eyck and store manager Phil White provided a generous buffet and refreshments in

Georgetown Safeway Catering Spread (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Georgetown Safeway Catering Spread
the store's cafe. The newly-built Safeway meets the highest green building standards and has become a hub for patrons seeking a cup of coffee or full-service catering.

Solomon opened with the two Lincolns question -- Navigators, that is -- and how many cars each owns and the last time they took public transportation. With the exception of car-less Lopez and Weaver, whose family owns one car, all said they own two cars and recently took public transportation.

Kennedy asked if they supported a tax increase to balance the city's budget. Lopez said yes -- 1%. Orange: no increase. Weaver: streamline government, bundle corporate income tax.

Regarding Georgetown University's proposed expansion, all candidates opposed the current University plan. Most criticized GU for its treatment of the community.

ANC Tom Smith raised questions about university policies that harm neighborhoods citywide (Photo by: Judith Beermann) ANC Tom Smith raised questions about university policies that harm neighborhoods citywide
Asked to name their favorite movie and the last movie they saw, candidates caused laughter by admitting that their selection has been affected by their small children.  "I haven't seen anything that wasn't Pixar or animated in six years," said Weaver. He said Milk, the story of San Francisco Harvey Milk, was his favorite film. Biddle's last movie was animated too, due to his children. His favorite, he said, was Star Wars, which he watched at the Uptown cinema. Lopez last saw Black Swan, but his favorite is Motorcycle Diaries -- which followed the life of activist Che Guevara.

Patterson's favorite was The Color Purple, which he saw with his mother before she died. Orange recently saw Unknown, a crime thriller starring Liam Neeson. His favorite film, he said, is Defiance, directed by Edward Zwick.

Forum attendees hold up signs protesting American University's proposed expansion (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Forum attendees hold up signs protesting American University's proposed expansion

One clear winner of the evening was Councilmember David Catania (At-large). All of the candidates said Catania is their "favorite Councilmember," with the exception of Vincent Orange, who named Jack Evans (Ward 2). Weaver also praised Tommy Wells (Ward 6).

 

 

 

In the foreground at right, ANC Commissioners Ron Lewis and Bill Starrels (Photo by: Judith Beermann) In the foreground at right, ANC Commissioners Ron Lewis and Bill Starrels

Time keeper Frank Method, whose blackberry doubled as a stopwatch (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Time keeper Frank Method, whose blackberry doubled as a stopwatch

Beth Solomon and Davis Kennedy (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Beth Solomon and Davis Kennedy

 

D.C. democracy activist Karen Szulgit asks candidates about their support for D.C. statehood (Photo by: Judith Beermann) D.C. democracy activist Karen Szulgit asks candidates about their support for D.C. statehood

 

Candidates Jacque Patterson, Vincent Orange and Bryan Weaver (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Candidates Jacque Patterson, Vincent Orange and Bryan Weaver

Candidate Joshua Lopez (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Candidate Joshua Lopez

 

Candidate Tom Brown, of Ward 8 (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Candidate Tom Brown, of Ward 8

D.C. Statehood Green Party candidate Alan Page (Photo by: Judith Beermann) D.C. Statehood Green Party candidate Alan Page

0 Comments For This Article

Bryan Weaver

We only have one car.

Judith Beermann

Sorry, Bryan! It's corrected now.

Steve Allman

Georgetown Dish. Can you please shed some light on this story??

Georgetown Dish. Could you please cover and solicit comments about the following event??

Sulaimon Brown escorted out of D.C. office by police
By Nikita Stewart
Former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown, whose hiring by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) caused an uproar this week, was escorted by police out of the office of the Department of Health Care Finance on Thursday, the Gray administration has confirmed.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Brown was among new staffers hired by the Gray administration. As late as Wednesday, the mayor was still defending Brown's employment as a special assistant earning $110,000. He said Brown, who has said he is an auditor, approached his administration about getting a job. Gray said he was directed to the health care finance department.

The Washington City Paper detailed Brown's legal troubles, including a 2007 restraining order, and questioned Gray's judgment in hiring him. The city paper tweeted Thursday morning that Brown was led away by police.

Linda Wharton Boyd, the mayor's spokeswoman, said the Gray administration will release details soon.

Frank Method

I don't know Suleimon Brown other than seeing him in a candidates forum, but this seems a lousy way to treat anybody. No issue has been raised about his competence or experience as an auditor and budget analyst. If the City Paper or others have an issue with a restraining order of 4 years ago, why was this not brought out during the campaign?

Steve Allman

Now we have Mayor Gray hiring the children of his chief of staff, giving significant increases in pay to his top staff, doubling the number of deputy mayors working in the city, Kwame Brown doubling the size of his office space, and asking the city to buy him SUV's for his personal use. Where is the Georgetown Dish on any of these issues? Are you guys only concerned with Georgetown issues....which seems likely so. Remember Georgetown when you look on a map you are indeed part of the District of Columbia. Why not spend some of your time looking into these serious issues and asking the Mayor to identify his gameplan for the city or are you simply trying to make sure he likes you?

Ask the tough questions and get your head out of Georgetown for a change.Whether or not Frank you know Suleimon Brown you have to admit that hiring someone who is not qualified for a $110,000 job, then firing him days later when the real press sheds some light, does call into question who is running the ship in the Wilson Building.....or are you one of those folks who got a sweet job??

Anonymous

Don't blame me I voted for Fenty