The Georgetown Current endorses Biddle for at-large Council race

Photo by The Georgetown Dish
Sekou Biddle, center, with supporters after straw poll win
Sekou Biddle, center, with supporters after straw poll win

For every mayoral and D.C. Council election, we conduct three-hour
interviews with candidates vying for the votes of Northwest residents.
From those conversations and other observations, we have formed opinions
on the current at-large D.C. Council hopefuls.


Of those in the race, Vincent Orange is the most experienced and
knowledgeable, having served two terms as the Ward 5 representative
on the council.


Democrats critical of Mayor Vincent Gray’s decision to allow supporters’
children to snare well-paid city jobs might consider Mr. Orange,
who has spoken out against the hires. He has also been highly critical of
Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s personal and campaign finances —
he challenged Mr. Brown in last fall’s election — and would be a strong
independent voice on the council.


He might be too independent, though. As in the race for council
chairman, we think Mr. Orange is not the best candidate for this post,
largely because we question his ability to work well with his colleagues.


Patrick Mara, a Republican, may be the best choice for those who
want someone not connected to the mayor or council chair, both of
whom are Democrats. He is also a tireless worker and has a reasonable
shot at winning.


Mr. Mara would likely have more success with Republicans on
Capitol Hill than any of his competitors. He favors gay marriage and
needle exchange programs, but he thinks the best way to make headway
on such controversial issues is to emphasize the importance of local
autonomy, which Republicans say they support.


Still, we were disappointed that Mr. Mara said he favors across-the-board
spending cuts, rather than major cuts in lower priority areas. We
were also disappointed by his lack of detailed knowledge on some of
the issues facing the District government, such as university campus
plans and tax-increment financing.


Joshua Lopez, who helped run the write-in effort on behalf of former
Mayor Adrian Fenty, is not as well-informed as most of his competitors,
and like Mr. Mara, he wants across-the-board cuts in spending,
which we oppose.


The final two — Sekou Biddle, who holds the at-large seat temporarily,
and Bryan Weaver, a former chair of the Adams Morgan advisory
neighborhood commission — would both be strong bets.


During our meeting with Mr. Weaver, we were amazed at his grasp
of the issues facing the District. He is the most knowledgeable challenger
we have interviewed over the past 16 years.


We were particularly impressed by his suggestion that the District
could save millions by combining clearly related offices, such as the
Office of the State Superintendent of Education and that of the deputy
mayor for education. He also showed he can juggle opposing points of
view — a skill that helped him bring together opponents when he
chaired the Adams Morgan commission.


Additionally, his stand on using tax breaks to attract business to the
city is unique among the Democratic candidates. He favors such deals
only when they are key to attracting the business, with the understanding
that the breaks will be eliminated if the business fails in its side of
the bargain — say, by not hiring the required number of District residents.
Mr. Weaver has one major weakness: He is not well-known outside
Adams Morgan and has not been able to get his message out across the
city. One could argue that a vote for Mr. Weaver would be wasted,
because he is so unlikely to win.


For that reason, we turn to Mr. Biddle. The interim at-large member
displays strong knowledge of city affairs and sees areas where real savings
can be made. We were particularly impressed with his courageous
suggestion that underenrolled city high schools such as Roosevelt and
Coolidge might be combined. Both are in terrible shape physically, and
the District would have to spend millions extra to rebuild both.


Mr. Biddle’s biggest weakness is his support from Mayor Gray and
Council Chairman Brown, given their current problems. Some might
prefer electing a strong independent voice to investigate the administration
appointments and Mr. Brown’s process of choosing a city car.


But our vote comes down to electability. If we thought he could win,
our choice would be Mr. Weaver. Given our doubts, our choice is Mr. Biddle.

 

This editorial appears in the March 23 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.

0 Comments For This Article

Anonymous

I understand your endorsement for a candidate more likely to win, but after what you have written, I am really tempted to vote for Bryan Weaver anyway.

dcgovcorruption

I am not persuaded to not vote for Vincent Orage who indeed will represent the people instead of the greedy and selfish politicians in the Wilson Building. Can any of them count correctly down there?
Everytime you look around their answer is to raise fees, fines or taxes,instead of tightening their belts. Vote Orange on April 26th.

Vote Vincent Orange

There will be a Vincent Orange Meet and Greet at Martin's Tavern on April 5, 5:30-7:30. Hope to see you there "dcgovcorruption"!