Last year I ran in the April 2012 primary for At Large city Council as one of two DC Statehood Green Party candidates. I was new to the party and realized my worthy opponent, Ann Wilcox would probably win, so asked people to write me in for other possible slots. Thus I ended up as the official DCSGP candidate for "Shadow" Representative to Congress (basically an unpaid lobbying job). I was pleasantly surprised to receive over 31,000 votes, almost 10,000 more than Mitt Romney. It has been suggested that only 50 to 60,000 votes will be cast in this Special Election giving DCSGP's Perry Redd a real chance.
Since at that time our party only had about 4,200 members this was especially gratifying. Unlike Independents, the DC Statehood Green Party is a real and growing party, with platforms, political/issues advisors, and a monthly meeting. Our meetings are open to all, and are the first Thursday of each month, 7 pm, at the David Clarke Law School just north of Van Ness Metro on Connecticut Ave. If you are curious about what we stand for, or want to join, please look us up. While we are DC's Second Political Party if you go by total number of votes received by all our candidates, we still need to build actual membership.
This year I decided to give my 100% support for the At Large Special Election to PERRY REDD (www.Redd4Council.com). He had been one of my early supporters last year. He has run a dynamite campaign, with significant support from a number of our DCSGP activists. He has been complimented by political observers for the kind and variety of his various campaign posters and materials.
There has been a fairly systematic effort to tear down his campaign posters and stickers. If I had to guess who is most responsible, my guess would be the Anita Bonds and Elissa Silverman campaigns. At the corner of 16th and U Sts, I found an Anita Bonds sign on a lamp post, a sticker I had placed scraped off and a Zukerberg sign in the trash 15 feet away. Another person was going up a street upset to see that Perry Redd posters placed a few days before were all gone. A number of Elisa Silverman posters were in place, and then he discovered Elissa Silverman's brother up a ladder posting her campaign posters on a lamp post that no longer had a Perry Redd poster in place. Words were exchanged and I hope had the appropriate effect.
Some have suggested that Patrick Mara, a pleasant, mild person has the best chance of winning as he is not a Democrat, which after the recent scandals and investigations is seen by some as a plus. Of course, Perry Redd is not a Democrat either, and moreover is not beholden to moneyed interests. I was disappointed to read in several places that Mara signed the Grover Norquist "no new taxes ever" pledge, that has made Congressional compromise almost impossible. How would that play on our Council, especially in an economic emergency? He is also the only candidate who sees no need to increase our DC Minimum Wage Law. Somehow he thinks that $1,430 per month for 40 hour weeks, or $1,251 for 35 hour weeks is enough to live on in DC!! And that pay is BEFORE deducting FICA, and Federal and DC taxes. I invite him to find a decent place to live close to a DC job for that money.
Perry Redd supports a "living wage", while Matthew Frumin suggests providing $500 a month to teachers, firemen, and police who live in DC. While good as far as it goes, this does not help the many other people who cannot afford to live near their work, and thus must factor transportation costs into their already minimal pay. In fact, Perry Redd and our DCSGP are the only political force in the city with a systematic plan to make this city affordable for all her citizens. Supporters of the rich and upper middle class are well represented on the DC Council. Our party wants everyone to prosper, but feels strongly that an eloquent voice for the poor and lower middle class is needed on the Council. This brings us to the only other black candidate left in the race. More on that later.
Anita Bonds sounds as though she has a clear understanding of the lower income groups, but as a product of the Democratic party bureaucracy and more specifically of Marion Barry politics, there are those who will support her for that reason. For those who do NOT want more of DC machine politicians, Perry Redd is the logical candidate. He was born and grew up in Ward 8 and knows these issues well. Uniquely, he is campaigning on the issue that with around 60,000 "returned citizens" in DC, we must make special efforts to reintegrate them and their disrupted families into the economic life of the city. [For those who don't know, "returned citizens" means people who have been released from prison after paying their debt to society.]
Anyone who doubts the power of the Barry forces to mobilize their power base, had only to attend the Eastern High School forum. There, the Barry supporters packed the back of the auditorium, giving Ms. Bonds 3 times the vote of any other candidate. On the subject of straw polls, one telephone poll gave Perry a low rating, but one must remember that land lines are owned by long time residents and older voters. Everyone else has cell phones so does not get counted, but young people often think GREEN, and we hope they vote.
I chatted with Ms. Bonds on the day everyone turned in their 3,000 or more petition signatures. I made a joking remark about people challenging petitions. She remarked she thought it would be the "boys" who would do that kind of thing. Imagine my surprise when Elissa Silverman decided to challenge John Settles (a black man) and Paul Zukerberg. She had worked to put Initiative #70 on the ballot and discovered flaws in Board of Elections recording of change of voter addresses. Her constant theme is her high level of ETHICS. However, she used this knowledge of BOEE flaws to successfully disqualify Settles, but failed with Zukerberg. Some are really disgusted that she had homeless and elderly disqualified as petition signers, even though they lived and registered in DC but had moved.
Now, this just in and reported in The Washington Post, this Monday, April 22. In a startling effort to knock one major competitor for her demographic she has approached Frumin with the suggestion he drop out in her favor, in exchange for Silverman supporting him against Mary Cheh (ward 3) in a future race. Sounds like serious wheeling and dealing to me. Frumin to his credit has refused this last minute deal. I have been favorably impressed with Mr. Frumin's grasp of issues in the western wards of the city. However, I feel that Perry Redd has a stronger grasp and emotional commitment to issues on the east side of the city, and he has those of use who have lived many years west of 16th St. NW to be sure that full attention is given to those issues as well when he is elected.
When Zukerberg asked Ms. Silverman if she planned to return money she had received from a questionable developer, she hemmed and hawed, and the people at the TENAC (rent control issue) Forum cried out in anger and disgust. Interestingly, although Anita Bonds did not attend that forum, she ended up getting their endorsement. Silverman also touts her credentials as a tax policy person. However, I wonder why she has never noticed or publicized the serious tax unfairness for lower income workers that I highlighted last spring at this blog for my campaign.
This year, if a DC family of 4 could use the Federal Deductions and Exemption amounts to calculate their DC taxes, the family could earn $16,400 more income free of DC taxes. When we got Home Rule in the early 1970s, our Deductions and Exemptions were about the same as the Federal rates. Why have all the Democratic politicians in all these years failed to maintain that advantage. Perry Redds tax justice platform includes this issue, and we, his DCSGP tax and economic advisers, will help him implement it.
Different news outlets and politicians have endorsed different candidates. "The Nose" in the Hill Rag community magazine has made an amusing series of observations and titles about each candidate some of which is quoted below:
1. Anita "The Apparatchick" Bonds: Endorsed by Councilmembers Muriel Bowser (strong Fenty supporter, and mayoral ambitions), "Mayor for Life" Barry, and Jack Evens (also rumored to be interested in the Mayoralty).
2. Patrick "The Kinder, Gentler Republican" Mara. He is backed by big business and much to my shock and horror, the Sierra Club, and he signed the Grover Norquist pledge.
3. Elissa "Wonkette" Silverman has the support of Greater Greater Washington and David Grosso. She is knowledgeable on economic issues, but does she really feel for lower income people like the homeless and the elderly?
4. Matthew "The Spoiler" Frumin has done good work in Ward 3, but as I said before, the demographic is well represented on the Council. Also he will take votes from Mara and Silverman, and possibly throw the election to Bonds, unless the "anyone but Barry" vote goes to the polls and gives their support to Perry Redd.
5. Perry "Just Say No" Redd has been the sole voice calling for a moratorium on school closings and a thorough study of our future enrollment needs, and possible use of our underused schools for adult education and other community development activities.
6. Paul "Legalize It" Zukerberg has highlighted the harm caused by hanging a criminal rap for minor marijuana possession on 2 1/2 times as many teens as graduate from high school each year. Perry Redd is in full agreement with the need to correct this waste of young lives and police and court costs, and has a much better chance of winning in more wards.
Perry Redd fully supports the common sense views about marijuana which the Washington Post Editorial Board wrote of Paul on March 21: "Paul Zukerberg (D) is an authentic new voice with a smart grasp of the issues, a commitment to pragmatism and a powerful message about marijuana laws making criminals out of too many of the District’s young people." He was the Post's top pick among Democrats. However, we have DC Statehood Green Party candidate for those who feel there are enough Democrats on the Council already.
A surprising dust up occurred when Tom Sherwood (Channel 4) referred to Anita Bonds as the only black person left in the race after Michael Brown dropped out. I immediately called Perry and said, "Hey, do you know you have just been promoted to the White Race?" A quick email to Mr. Sherwood resulted in a correction, and Perry is now safely back to being the only black MAN in the race. Kojo also made the same mistake, which is really strange since he is a black man too.
Last year I averaged about 20% of the vote in Wards 1, 2, and 3. If Perry Redd can hold on to that percentage from pro statehood and green voters, and those who don't particularly want to vote for a Republican, or yet another Democrat, he has a real chance. He should do far better than I did in the eastern wards of the city. Many people are dissatisfied with the current Democratic lock on Council seats. Often Democrats suddenly discover they are Independents so they can run for the two At Large seats reserved for non Democrats. So unfair!! Some like Michael Brown try to run as Independents but then try to go to the Democratic Convention as delegates. Well, this year Brown has decided to drop out of the April 23 election. Unfortunately, his name is still on the ballot which will confuse the easily confused.
So, dear voters, think hard before you vote. One forum observer told me she liked Perry the best but would vote for someone else because she "didn't think he has a chance to win." I think she is wrong, but we also have the longer range objective of growing our DC Statehood Green Party so we can add real diversity to our politics and Council. Even if Perry does not win, the more votes he gets, the better chance we have to grow the party. Also the better chance we have of lobbying effectively for some of the excellent ideas presented at the forums.
I don't think it will be a catastrophe if any one of the candidates wins, although the Grover Norquist pledging Republican is harder to swallow. There has been an unusual amount of cordiality among most of the candidates. But if you really want to support change, then vote PERRY REDD, because he will be "Doing it Different, and Doing it Right" for all of us.