The Jews United for Justice Campaign Fund is a grassroots community organization that is working towards a District of Columbia where everyone has what they need to live and thrive, where all our residents live in dignity and have a voice in democracy, and where our government focuses on the well-being of all residents and in particular the needs of those who are most vulnerable. The JUFJ Campaign Fund is the sister organization to JUFJ, which has a 20 year history of community engagement in the District.
Vision for the District:
1. If you are elected, what are your top three priorities and specific proposals about how to achieve those priorities? How do your priorities and proposals address structural inequities, especially those that impact people of color, that exist in the District of Columbia?
Housing: As local housing prices continue to rise; the District must do all it can to prevent displacement and create more housing. By not creating opportunities for new housing to be developed in our commercial corridors, and by not leveraging District-owned properties to include new housing that is available to low- and moderate-income families, we fail those most in need of housing and accelerate displacement. I don’t want a single family to leave the District due to rising rents, increased taxes, and a lack of affordable housing for families making between $30,000-$60,000 a year. Therefore, housing must be a high priority. A large part of this will be identifying underperforming public land where more housing can be accommodated. An example of this would be the Third District Police Station on V Street and Engine Company No. 9 on U Street. These properties are one- to two-stories tall in an area zoned for mixed use buildings 50 ft. tall. In essence, 3 to 4 stories could be added to each of these sites by-right, and more through a PUD process. We need to consider rebuilding public owned properties like these to both meet the existing needs of the police and fire departments as well as gain the additional floors of below market housing that District residents desperately need.
Education: Access to quality public education is the civil rights issue of our time. The city’s achievement gap remains at an unacceptably high level. Factors leading to achievement gaps include hunger, testing and teaching methods that may not be culturally aligned to students, do not take into account socio-economic factors, and a reliance on technology and computers for testing when children from lower income families don’t have access to these tools on a regular basis. Given the constraints of the IMPACT evaluation, teachers are further hindered from providing holistic, hands-on and interactive teaching opportunities. Without the ability to meet students’ social and emotional needs through emotionally safe learning communities, the achievement gap will continue to widen rather than narrow.
One part of the solution would be to address the impact of DC’s local Hatch Act laws that prevent school teachers from fully participating as advocates for education. School teachers in the District of Columbia should have the same rights and privileges as any other jurisdiction in the United States. I feel even more strongly about this for DC since we are a small jurisdiction with an incredible number of talented residents and teachers. We want our brightest and most capable residents to be engaged civically, including serving in public office. Teachers must be allowed to speak freely about school conditions without fear and be allowed to run for public office and serve on the State Board of Education.
Lastly, we need to rethink our current methods of standardized testing, and create an environment where testing is more adaptable to the needs of students. Standardized testing does not strike me as currently being an instrument design to measure learning or educational success. Rather, it is being used to make decisions on school operations, whether schools should remain open, and even which teachers should get raises, be retained or terminated. This does not create an environment where education can thrive and has, at times, lead to a higher emphasis on getting students to pass the tests or even altering test scores to make the schools have a false appearance of success. Testing is necessary, and tests should be as standardized as possible, but testing should not be linked to anything other than measuring the individual progress of each student. The purpose of education is to teach students 1) the basic information they need to be successful in life, and 2) the ability to be a critical thinker. A successful education teaches students how to teach themselves when they encounter a subject and want to learn more. We need to instill curiosity, and how to feed that curiosity whether in the classroom or in the home.
Jobs: No matter how much housing we build, or how affordable District housing is, no housing is “affordable” to residents who are unemployed. It is critical that we focus on maintaining and growing quality jobs that pay living wages and provide opportunities for growth. While the District has significantly improved conditions for employees, ranging from increasing the minimum wage to establishing paid family leave – it also needs to review the challenges small local businesses face. We must support our small local business community and allow them to success. This is particularly important because these businesses tend to hire from the neighborhoods in which they are located. Overall, while slightly more than one-quarter of all jobs in the District of Columbia are filled by DC residents, when you look at the hospitality industry the percentage goes up to 60% – and these are the jobs that are created by the type of small business that have opened in Ward 1 over the past two decades and the types of businesses that residents want. Two areas where I think we could to more for our small local businesses are:
- Create a competitive environment for DC workers by establishing tax credits for District businesses that hire local. In a metropolitan area that is larger than just the District of Columbia, providing an incentive to hire locally benefits us all; and,
- Reduce the regulatory burdens for small business owners operating in the District of Columbia, or who are considering it. Recently restaurateur John Andrade announced that he would focus his future enterprises in Virginia rather than the District of Columbia stating the inefficiency and regulatory delays that occur at DCRA. For the District to be competitive, we need to be in sync with our surrounding jurisdictions. Every business that closes or choses to locate outside of DC due to regulatory burdens decreases employment opportunities for residents. We need to change that.
2. In a 2015 study commissioned by the DC government, the Urban Institute reported that DC would need 26,000 - 33,000 more units affordable to those making under 30% of AMI by 2020. Leading advocates are calling on the city to subsidize 26,000 units for very low-income families (0-30% of AMI) over the next ten years both through creation of new units and subsidizing existing units, starting with 2,600 units in fiscal year 2019. What is your position on this proposal and how would you fund this expansion to ensure housing stability among DC's lowest income residents?
The DC Fiscal Policy Institute states that the cost of producing this needed housing would cost $2.6 billion over a 10-year period with an additional $750 million needed for maintenance. As this is more than we can squeeze out of the current District budget, the path forward could be to leverage the District’s excellent credit rating to issue bonds dedicated to producing housing affordable for very low-income families. The funding should be available to both projects that are 100% affordable in addition to funding additional Inclusionary Zoning housing.
Additionally, the District should increase funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund to a total of $250 million annually and increase our investment and production of Single Room Occupancy (SROs) housing.
3. Public housing is a key source of stable, affordable housing for thousands of the District’s extremely low income households. Over the last decade, however, federal divestment in public housing has resulted in three quarters of units to fall into disrepair, including hundreds that are no longer inhabitable. Public housing residents have had to deal with mold, collapsing ceilings, missing portions of the floor, and more, all of which compromise their health and safety. Housing advocates are calling on the city to repair and maintain DC's public housing stock by establishing a minimum funding level of $25 million in the Public Housing Repair Fund. Do you support this investment? How else do you recommend the city address our public housing challenges?
Yes, I support establishing dedicated funding for the Public Housing Repair Fund. The condition of many of the District’s public housing units are deplorable, and the failure to keep them in good repair, well maintained, and modern is inexcusable. While I support the overall plan by the New Community Initiative to replace and rebuild communities like Barry Farm and Park Morton … the current conditions of many of the units in these communities – as well as other public housing facilities like them – are unconscionable. At Barry Farm, for example, many of the residents would prefer to have their housing renovated rather than replaced and do not wish to move. Yet the deferred maintenance at Barry Farm has led to a situation where the structures are too far gone to renovate and unsafe to use for much longer.
Park Morton, by contrast, has a much brighter future and one we should consider elsewhere. By leveraging public land, redevelopment of Park Morton will replace and preserve 147 units of public housing without displacing a single family from their neighborhood. Starting in 2013 I successfully collaborated with the community, Park Morton residents, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and the New Communities Initiative to select the build first site and build the consensus necessary that is leading to the successful redevelopment of Park Morton.
We have other options where we could undertake similar efforts to upgrade, preserve, and increase public housing in the District as part of larger mixed income communities. A site that comes to mind as a possible location in Ward 1 is Garfield Terrace. In addition to the high-rise that is currently located on the site, there is also a significant amount of surface parking. This is a poor use of land in the District, and we should be able to creatively accommodate parking and housing where the parking lots currently exist.
4. Over 80,000 families and individuals in the District of Columbia live in rent controlled apartments, making this policy tool one of the single largest sources of long-term affordable housing in the city. However, significant loopholes in the law leave low-income tenants vulnerable to unfair rent hikes and displacement. The DC Rent Control Coalition is working to reform the District’s rent control laws to cap annual rent increases, preserve affordable rentstabilized housing, protect seniors and people with disabilities from extreme rent increases, improve the petition process, and protect tenants against retaliatory landlords. Where do you stand on the Rental Housing Affordability Stabilization Amendment Act of 2017, which would eliminate the extra 2% tenants pay above the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in annual rent increases and cap vacancy increases at 5%, and on the Preservation of Affordable Rent Control Housing Amendment Act of 2017, which would ban voluntary agreements that raise rents on future tenants?
I support the Rental Housing Affordability Stabilization Amendment Act of 2017 and agree that eliminating the 2% tenants pay above the Consumer Price Index in annual rent increases is the way to go. It would help tremendously with keeping our rental housing affordable. Regarding the cap on vacancy rent increases of 5%, I believe we can do better than that. I would support reducing vacancy increases to 3% or 1% above the CPI, whichever is lower. When vacancies occur we need to do our best to preserve the affordability of rental housing and need to eliminate loopholes that create incentives to increase rents through renter churn.
I also support the Preservation of Affordable Rent Control Housing Amendment Act of 2017 and its goal of eliminating the practice of landlords getting current tenants to agree to substantial rent increases provided they don’t have to pay them themselves. By externalizing the costs of rent increases by shifting them to future and other tenants who are not a party of the agreement, the District has lost significant amounts of affordable rental property. This is an unacceptable loophole and counter to the intent of the District’s rent control laws. But more than that, this practice is immoral as it impacts low- and moderate-income families the most, especially families of color.
5. When Mayor Bowser took office, she committed to a plan to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring, including ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015, chronic homelessness by the end of 2017, and all homelessness by 2020. The District has now missed two of these deadlines, and is not on track to meet the goals set forth in this plan unless there is a significant investment increase in permanent housing solutions. Will you commit to fully funding and implementing the Interagency Council on Homelessness plan to end homelessness, including filling in the gaps in funding from the prior two fiscal years?
I think it is critically important to support and fund permanent housing solutions, especially the Interagency Council on Homelessness’ plan to end homelessness. Filling the gaps in funding from the prior two fiscal years, and holding future years accountable, makes sense to me. In the long run, it is fiscally responsible and a better use of scarce resources to fund permanent housing rather than temporary shelters and motel rooms. This is one of those cases where doing the right thing from the beginning is a better investment for this city, and investing in people and families is always going to be a high priority for me.
As part of this effort, I believe we need a stronger commitment to building SROs as part of the solutions. They could provide a last option before becoming homeless and the first transition from homelessness for many people. Single Room Occupancy housing generally provides housing in which one or two people are housed in individual rooms or two rooms with a bathroom or half bathroom within a larger building. Having more SROs available and spread-out through the District would help stabilized at-risk individuals and families, in addition to providing support before becoming homeless. It would reduce the demand for shelters and is far more cost effective than the city’s current policy of renting hotel/motel rooms when shelters have reached capacity. They could also provide the necessary social services and support that someone who is homeless needs to get a job and get back on their feet. I think we would find that this is a better and more dignified path for many than living on the streets or in a shelter.
6. The Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act lays out a framework for a community-led public health approach to violence prevention to ensure residents’ safety while also addressing police abuses. Advocates are calling for the Act to be fully, faithfully, transparently, and successfully implemented. How will you ensure that the Mayor and her administration as well as the Council fully and effectively implement the NEAR Act?
We need and deserve the holistic and comprehensive approach to public safety that the NEAR Act prioritizes. For healthy communities, we need to recognize that there is a bigger picture that includes police, social service agencies, communities, and others to collaborate for the benefit of all. In Ward 1, we have locations where threats to public safety are deeply entrench. Despite overall neighborhood progress, some blocks have not changed in 20 years – blocks where poverty, substance abuse, and hopelessness lead to overdoses, shootings, and homicides. These locations are well known to MPD and they have done everything in their power to address them, however we are never going to arrest our way out of the problem. The cycle of hopelessness needs to be broken.
Public safety is important to me, and where I will be a strong advocate is in the following areas:
Supporting Social Services: For us to have social service partners, we need to fund and staff the agencies that are best capable to engage on homelessness, addiction, and domestic violence. The Department of Behavioral Health, for example, is a small staff with limited funding – yet must serve the entire District. They do not have the support they need to make the difference in neighborhood safety they otherwise could. We must provide the support and staffing they need, and other agencies like them, if we are going to make the personal connections necessary to provide hope and a better life for those requiring support.
Collaboration: We need to create a framework where calls for domestic violence, for example, result in both a police response and a social service response. It is impossible to tell which service is required more when calls come in and it doesn’t serve us well when we don’t have the correct support response. We also need to strengthen communication between the agencies, so that all who are engaged to improve a community’s public health have all the relevant information they need to do so. The Council must examine the challenges that are preventing our social service professionals from success, and find ways to empower them for better outcomes. Community Policing and Police in the Community: We are fortunate that much of Ward 1 is served by the Third Police District. These officers are responsive and have proven to be good community partners. This is what we need throughout our neighborhoods. We must find ways for more police officers to afford to live and work in our communities so that we know them as neighbors, creating a stronger relationship and better understanding of community challenges. Our officers should be walking our neighborhoods, talking to the community, and getting to know us on a personal level. While we are not there yet, we do have examples of officers who have taken initiative to be a community friend and protector rather than just the person who is unknown and present solely to arrest.
For example, in the Third District, Officer Eastman worked the midnight shift for many years. He would not only police the community, but become part of the community by distributing coats to those in need, largely unknown to anyone other than his coworkers on the midnight shift. When he passed in October of 2017, officers of the Third District held a coat drive to honor the memory of Officer Eastman. Officer Eastman’s children, who live in Howard County, also assisted MPD in a coat drive at their elementary school. This year’s first coat drive resulted in the collection of 140 articles of clothing, which have been distributed to those in need and to residents in Faircliff, Urban Village, and Park Morton. This impressive grassroots effort should be occurring throughout the District to strengthen the relationship between MPD and the community.
Transparency and Redistricting: Another big challenge I am currently working on is the way data is reported by MPD and the issue of Ward 1 being in two police districts.
The easiest way for many of us to get crime data is through the DC Crime Map application. Yet, the way the application supplies data doesn’t always allow a resident to have an accurate understanding of crime trends in a neighborhood. For example, Columbia Heights and Park View neighborhoods are in both the Third and Fourth police districts. There is no convenient way to retrieve data for those specific neighborhoods without doing a custom search, and even then, it is impossible to capture a complete picture. We need to create a more transparent way to retrieve crime data so that we fully understand the challenges each community faces. While this can be accomplished electronically, we must review how police districts are drawn, and whether those boundaries are helping or hindering our efforts when it comes to public safety.
7. Despite being a city with a 20% immigrant population, local schools do not have the resources necessary to adequately meet the needs of immigrant students and parents who are English Language Learners. The Language Access for Education Act would provide support for these families, yet Council has failed to advance this legislation. Will you commit to passing and fully funding the Language Access for Education Act?
I fully support the markup and passage of B22-0075, the Language Access for Education Amendment Act of 2017 (carried over from Council period 21), which requires public schools, including public charter schools, to provide essential language translation services; and expand the number of District Government agencies that are covered by the law.
Equally important as the Bill itself, I am committed to providing the necessary oversight to ensure that the language access needs of our community are met. The current Chair of the Council’s Committee on Human Services, Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau, has not provided the adequate oversight on this issue and failed to attend the April 24, 2017, Public Hearing on B22-0075, in which testimony was shared that Bread for the City has filed more than 10 language access complaints with the Office of Human Rights against the Department of Human Services for failure to provide necessary services. In all cases, the Department of Human Services has been found to be in violation, yet the Office of Human Rights has no authority to fine or penalize the Department of Human Services or make them comply with the law. Because of the lack of enforcement authority of OHR rulings, Bread for the City has had to file a lawsuit under the D.C. Human Rights Act to seek corrective action by the Department of Human Services and secure just compensation for their clients whose rights were violated under D.C. Law. The failure of oversight on this issue is clear, and a troubling indicator that passage of the Language Access for Education bill will not be enough to make language access a reality. Legislation, no matter how wellmeaning, requires constant oversight, follow-up, and follow through to ensure desired outcomes are achieved.
8. DC has some of the strongest labor laws on the books but workers - especially returning citizens, those in immigrant communities, and those working in the informal economy - continue to face barriers to meaningful employment and fair pay at too many turns. How do you plan to work with the Mayor and administration to ensure the District’s labor laws are enforced? Further, how will you use your position on Council to build more pathways to the middle class for struggling workers?
As the question rightly points out, DC has some of the strongest labor laws on the books so the answer isn’t going to be stronger laws, rather the answer needs to be to grow small businesses and provide incentives for hiring DC residents.
Washington’s small and local businesses contribute a great deal to our economy. While slightly more than one-quarter of all jobs in the District of Columbia are filled by DC residents, when you look at the hospitality industry the percentage goes up to 60% – and these are the jobs that are created by the small business that serve every Ward 1 neighborhood. In order to support and grow DC’s small businesses, and the jobs they provide, we need to review and streamline the fees and regulations at DCRA that accomplish little beyond slowing down new applications and charging unnecessary fees.
In addition to supporting small businesses and the jobs they support the District should offer a $5,000 tax credit for hiring District residents. This would further incentivize employing DC residents, making them a truly valued commodity for employers. This approach would be a true win/win.
9. Over a year since it was passed, the Universal Paid Leave Act established a public social insurance fund (like unemployment insurance) that enables everyone working for private and non-profit employers in DC to take extended paid leave when caring for themselves or a family member, or when welcoming a new child. How will you ensure that the Mayor and administration fully and effectively build out a top-notch paid leave program for DC’s working families, on-time and on-budget? Once the paid leave insurance program is running effectively, if the program generates fund surpluses, would you champion updates to the Universal Paid Leave Act that benefit workers such as increasing the length of medical leave or expanding family definitions to include chose family?
I supported and continue to support the Universal Paid Leave Act (UPLA). As Mayor Bowser has sign UPLA, and there are no pending bills related to UPLA, all our efforts need to be focused on funding and implementing this program to achieve the benefits it brings to District employees.
Oversight is essential for us to building out the paid leave program effectively. As the Office of Paid Family Leave will be housed within the Department of Employment Services, it is critical that we work closely with DOES at every step of the way to make sure that the three-phases they have identified to establish the PFL program stay on track and on time. In addition to building out the system, each phase also includes critical components of marketing and outreach to educate employers, employees, and the medical communities.
The Council cannot take a passive approach, nor should it reserve its oversight to the annual performance oversight hearings. As one of the most important and impactful changes to the District’s employment laws, the DOES quarterly reports are important and the information they contain must be used to keep the progress on track and to introduce additional legislation should future reports inform that Council of unanticipated problems that need action.
Once paid leave is running effectively, should the program generate fund surpluses, I would champion updates to the act that expanded family definitions to include chose family. As a gay man, many of the people in my life over the years have been members of families of choice for a variety of reasons. Being able to care for, and be taken care of, by those we love and consider family should not be diminished or banned due to “traditional” definitions of family. Rather, however people define their family needs to be respected and include all the rights and privileges that other families receive today.
People Powered Democracy
10. DC’s current donor class is whiter, wealthier, older, and male-er than the District’s population. More than 60% of campaign contributions come from either individuals who don’t live in DC, or from corporations and PACs, while only 5% come from voters giving $100 or less. The Fair Elections Act promotes a system that better represents the people who live and vote here by establishing a voluntary public financing system where small-dollar donations are matched with public funds. The DC Fair Elections Act was recently passed and now needs to be funded in the Fiscal Year 2019 District budget. Do you support full funding for Fair Elections and would you use the system in future elections?
Absolutely, I support full funding for Fair Elections and would definitely use the system in future elections. I am proud that in this election, an independent review of campaign finance statistics by DC for Democracy shows that I am already aligned with the goals that the Fair Elections Act seeks to achieve. Of the candidates running for the Ward 1 DC Council seat, 87% of the money in my campaign comes from DC with 80% coming from individual contributors in DC. This is in stark contrast to the other candidates, where the next highest percentages are 62% and 57% respectively. Furthermore, the median contribution in my campaign is $100 (See: https://dcfordemocracy.org/wpcontent/uploads/2018/02/dc4d-ocf-stats.pdf)
It is not only important to have a vocal champion of Fair Elections, it is equally important to have a Councilmember who lives it. The high percentage of out-of-District money, or contributions from corporations and PACs, that has been taken by the incumbent and other candidates is deeply disappointing.
I would go further and work to eliminate the patronage system of low tag numbers where the Council and Mayor are able to cultivate annually a ready pool of max donors by enticing them with favorable tag numbers or the hope of getting an even lower tag number the following year.
11. The District’s resources should be allocated responsibly and with transparency, in ways that benefit the needs of existing communities, particularly low-income communities and communities of color. Unfortunately, it has become standard practice for the District to offer billions of dollars of public land, tax breaks, and lucrative contracts to private companies, some of whom routinely do not comply with District labor, hiring, and housing laws. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to hear stories of businesses being subsidized by millions of tax dollars found committing wage theft, operating substandard housing, and breaking hiring laws. What is your position on taxpayer subsidies and tax abatements for large development projects? And how will you hold developers accountable to meeting community development requirements?
In general, I do not favor taxpayer subsidies or tax abatements unless there is clear evidence that it is in the best interest for those who live in the District of Columbia. By this, I mean that the outcomes need to help the District’s achieve its highest priorities especially when there is no alternative to doing so. We need to stop, and I do not support, tax abatements for for-profit developments such as stadiums, etc. Incentives should only be considered when the outcome produces significant amounts of low-income housing or requires the restoration of a difficult to reusing property such as the old Franklin School.
Tax subsidies, tax abatements, and leveraging public land are valuable tools. But these tools should only be used to create long-term benefits to District residents that will not be achieved in any other way -- benefits such as producing permanent jobs or additional housing for low- and middle-income families. These tools also can be used to bolster economic development and support overall growth in small businesses – again leading to more jobs for District residents.
Examples of where I’ve been deeply involved and successful in leveraging public land for significant amounts of housing for low- and moderate-income families include the Park Morton redevelopment effort and the Hebrew Home property. The Hebrew Home building is creating 187 new apartments in the housing pipeline with 80% of the units being targeted at 60% AMI or lower including 90 senior apartments. My knowledge of the interrelationships between the Comprehensive Plan, zoning and the development history of Georgia Avenue paired with experience in the Planned Unit Development process contributed leveraging District owned property to bring 462 additional apartments into the housing pipeline in the Park Morton redevelopment project, preserving 147 public housing units and creating another 155 apartments that will be at 60% AMI or below (including 76 apartments for seniors). I have been fighting for and alongside the residents of the Park Morton public housing complex since the Spring of 2013, and when the original redevelopment efforts faltered, I played a key role in getting the project back on track and identifying the Bruce Monroe sites as the solution for the build-first site which got the project back on track.
But whether tax subsidies, tax abatements, or public land are used to increase housing and jobs for District residents, the most important aspect of using any of these tools is oversight.
In Ward 1, the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan is a prime example of how a well-intended tax abatement did not produce the promised construction jobs or permanent jobs for Ward 1 and District residents due to a failure of oversight. The law requires that more than 50 percent of the construction workers who built the hotel be D.C. residents and that more than 50 percent of the permanent employees hired for the hotel be D.C. residents. Of those, more than 50 percent were supposed to be residents of Ward 1, where the hotel is located. But to date, the tax abatement has not been given due to questions concerning whether or not the required construction jobs for D.C. residents has been satisfied. When oversight fails, especially for construction jobs, there is no way to turn back the clock to restore those opportunities. The construction job opportunities for District residents at the Line Hotel are gone forever.
12. How we spend our money as a community says a lot about our values. Persistent inequalities exist in access to affordable housing, public education, quality healthcare services, reliable public transportation, basic amenities, reasonable childcare options, and more. In recent years the DC Council cut taxes for wealthy residents and successful businesses, and at the same time has said that there is insufficient revenue to actually solve the challenges facing our city. What will your budget priorities say about you and your values? Where will you look for additional revenue?
I believe more in accomplishing fiscally responsible outcomes that align with our priorities than I do about golden shovels and ribbon cuttings. Following up on some of the points I’ve already referenced, one area where I think we need to start is with an inventory of District owned property, and especially note which properties are vacant, which have large surface parking lots, and which are under built. In Ward 1 we have a number of properties that come to mind. I’ve already mentioned the additional floors of housing that could be created by redeveloping Engine No. 9 and the 3D police headquarters. Similarly, the large vacant parking lot at the Rita Bright Center on 14th Street will be used to construct the Ward 1 family shelter that is needed to close down DC General.
In addition to leveraging District-owned underperforming properties, we also really need to invest in building state of the art recreation centers and focus on community learning – especially in communities where there are significant income inequalities and/or near schools with significant achievement gaps. A site I have been championing for years is the renovation and rebuilding of the Park View Recreation Center. To date, of the 19 census tracts that make up Ward 1, only three of them are majority African-American. The Park View Recreation Center is in one of those three tracts – yet getting a modern state of the art facility has required my sustained efforts and doggedness. Beginning in 2012 I was able to work with the District for a new basketball court, soccer field, and outdoor play equipment. Following that, I successfully lobbied to get the historic fieldhouse structure renovated. Currently, my continued efforts to secure funding for a new recreation center beginning in 2015 ultimately resulted in $12.3M being placed in the Mayor’s budget to rebuild the Park View Recreation Center in FY2023. The District must serve our communities of color and I am a fighter when it comes to delivering for my community.
Dedicated funding for Metro and supporting public transportation must also be a high priority. This is especially true for low- and moderate-income families who rely on public transportation to get to work and earn a living. Furthermore, many of our children rely on public transportation to get to school and seniors rely on it for doctor appointments. If we do not support a strong and well-funded public transportation system, we deny families the opportunity to work and thrive in the District of Columbia.
Lastly, I believe it is fiscally responsible and cheaper to invest in infrastructure, maintenance, & repair than it is to defer maintenance and replace facilities later. Even in our robust economy, we do not have the luxury of wasting funds. Continuing to improve our public buildings and resources – from streets and alleys, to public housing, to school buildings, to playground equipment and recreation buildings – is essential for an inclusive city. Public resources are shared by every single resident equally, making them a good investment. We also must spend money on maintaining our public resources rather than deferring maintenance, as it is fiscally smart to keep our resources well-maintained and serving the community than it is to raze and replace. Our goal should never be a ribboncutting, but rather maintaining public resources that are in good repair, well-loved and used every day. Sidewalks are of particular interest to me as they are more than a nuisance when they are in disrepair, they are also a hazard to seniors that can lead to serious injuries or force those using wheelchairs or electric scooters into the streets when not constructed to ADA standards.