Photo by The Georgetown Dish
Candidates (from left) Zukerberg, Frumin, Mara and Redd at Tony & Joe's
Candidates (from left) Zukerberg, Frumin, Mara and Redd at Tony & Joe's

You may not have noticed, but there’s an off-year election coming up on April 23rd in the District.  The main thing on the ballot is an at-large council seat to replace Phil Mendelson who moved up to Council Chairman last year when Kwame Brown resigned. There are seven candidates on the ballot and four showed up Monday evening for a forum at Tony & Joe’s restaurant on the Potomac--Paul Zukerberg, Matthew Frumin, Patrick Mara and Perry Redd.

Under questioning by moderator Davis Kennedy of The Current Newspapers and by other reporters in the audience, the candidates pretty much stuck to their core messages. 

Moderator Davis Kennedy (right) goes over possible questions with Gary Tischler of The Georgetowner (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Moderator Davis Kennedy (right) goes over possible questions with Gary Tischler of The Georgetowner

For Zukerberg, it’s decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, especially because the current criminal procedure unfairly sitmatizes young African-Americans; for Frumin, is working hard on community problems and “getting things done;” for Mara it’s “going against the tide,” as a Republican, albeit emphatically progressive on social issues and ethics; and for Redd, it's as the proud Statehood-Green Party standard-bearer, fighting for more (progressive) taxes and refusal of any corporate donations.

There were few sharp disagreements.  One was over the proposal to drastically reduce if not ban parking from new buildings near mass transit.  Frumin unhesitatingly points to his negotiating for such a no-parking project on upper Wisconsin Avenue because it forbids neighborhood parking by the new residents and encourages alternate transportation possibilities. Zukerberg is “absolutely against” this approach, calling the Wisconsin Avenue an “intolerable imposition on the neighbors” and a giveaway to developers.  Redd was also against the change while Mara said a mechanism is needed to take neighborhood-specific sentiment into account.

Paul Zukerberg (left) and Perry Redd before the forum (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Paul Zukerberg (left) and Perry Redd before the forum

On the question of whether neighborhoods could keep their current particular zoning protections in the new zoning rules now being developed (as now exist for Georgetown and elsewhere), all supported the local option, except Mara who said he didn’t know enough about the proposal to comment.  Mara was also the lone voice against the proposal to require “big box” retailers to pay a ‘living wage’ of $11.25/hour, instead of the current $8.25.

Frumin gave perhaps the sharpest response of the evening when asked if he was planning to run against incumbent Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh if he didn’t make it this time.  “I’m stunned by that question…it’s so wrong and just an attempt to pigeon-hole me as a Ward 3 candidate when I’m running citywide….I have no intention whatsoever of running against Mary Cheh.”

The no-show candidates were Elissa Silverman, Michael Brown and incumbent Anita Bonds.  In addition to the Current, the forum was cosponsored by the Georgetown Business and Citizens Associations and The Georgetown Dish. 

PS: The winner on April 23rd will face reelection next year in the regular cycle for this seat.