Greater Greater Washington

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Endorsements for DC citywide races and ballot questions

While the Democratic primary most often determines office-holders in the District of Columbia, there is a serious race on the November ballot for a seat on the DC Council, alongside a number of other races.


Photo by afagen on Flickr.

In the District, we endorse David Grosso for Council at-large, Phil Mendelson for chairman, Nate Bennett-Fleming for shadow representative, and yes votes on the 3 charter amendments.

Greater Greater Washington makes endorsements through a poll of contributors, and we only weigh in when there is a clear consensus for one candidate or position as well as a clear feeling that making an endorsement is worthwhile. The contributors decided not to endorse in ward races, State Board of Education, or shadow senator this year.

Voters will also have the opportunity to choose ANC commissioners, a position which often carries significant influence over neighborhood affairs. There are many great candidates across the city, including Greater Greater Washington editor Jaime Fearer in Trinidad's district 5D07.

DC Council at-large: We recommend voting for David Grosso.

Congress' grant of home rule to the District included a provision that limited how many candidates can be members of the same party, which in practice means that one at-large seat every 2 years goes to one individual who is not formally affiliated with the Democratic Party. We hope voters choose David Grosso over incumbent Michael A. Brown.

More than anything, the DC Council needs stable, ethical leadership at this time. Mr. Grosso has embraced openness and transparency by disclosing any corporate interests that have donated to his campaign. By contrast, whether any laws were broken or not, Mr. Brown's record is marred by a series of personal missteps and questionably ethical political actions.

Michael Brown has been a staunch supporter of many important policies for affordable housing, workforce development and other poverty-related issues. However, when it comes to building healthy and walkable urban places, Mr. Brown simply does not seem to understand the issues beyond a narrow and out-of-date suburban mindset. He pushed for a Redskins training facility on Reservation 13, sent a letter echoing many alarmist and often false fears about the zoning update, wants to spend public money on municipal parking, and more.

Mary Brooks Beatty, the Republican candidate, has proven even worse, voicing the tired "war on cars" theme during a recent debate. After nominating an avowedly pro-urban candidate 4 years ago, it's too bad the DC GOP's standard-bearer is so out of touch with the changing District.

Mr. Grosso, meanwhile, supports better bicycle infrastructure, removing minimum parking requirements, and also wants to shore up funding for affordable housing. Tommy Wells, the DC Council's most ardent voice for smart growth, has thrown his weight behind Grosso, as has the DC chapter of the Sierra Club.

District voters have the opportunity to cast 2 votes. For Mr. Grosso to win, he will have to place in the top 2; most expect that Vincent Orange, the Democratic nominee, will gain the most votes, and that the 2nd will come down to Mr. Grosso or Mr. Brown.

There are also a number of other candidates running, several of whom have promise, such as AJ Cooper, our 2nd highest vote-getter in our contributor poll, but none received a clear consensus required for a formal endorsement. However, voters can certainly use a 2nd vote for one of these other candidates without fear of upsetting their top choice's chances to win.

DC Council chairman: We recommend voting for Phil Mendelson.

Mr. Mendelson is well suited to bring order and credibility to a damaged DC Council. His record of ethics is impeccable, and he is well-positioned to get the council working together collaboratively instead of fracturing into warring factions as it did under former Chairman Kwame Brown.

Some council staffers say that Mr. Mendelson will need to work on shifting his attention to the big picture issues rather than the narrow, often nitpicking hyper-attention to detail he has become known for. He also continues to lean toward sympathy with those who don't want to see the District change or grow much at all. Zoning is not the council's purview, and since becoming chairman he has stayed away from taking a position on such issues that won't come before that body. However, voters need to keep careful watch on this issue.

Shadow representative: We recommend voting for Nate Bennett-Fleming.

The shadow representative is an unpaid position whose purpose is to lobby for District voting rights. Current shadow representative Mike Panetta is not seeking reelection, and we hope District voters will choose Nate Bennett-Fleming.

Mr. Bennett-Fleming brings a youthful energy to District politics. He is able to work and talk with people from all over the cityrich and poor, young and old, black and white, advantaged and disadvantaged. The shadow representative is a relatively thankless position, but it needs someone with the vigor to stir things up and push for equal representation. Mr. Bennett-Fleming's political science background and law degree will also help him know what can work and what can't, instead of pushing for absolutely unworkable ideas.

Ballot questions: We recommend voting FOR all 3 charter amendments.

The proposed charter amendments will officially empower the DC Council to expel a member for gross misconduct, and disqualify any candidates with a felony conviction while in office from serving as councilmember or mayor.

Each of these takes a small step toward improving the laws around ethics in DC. They leave many ethics issues unresolved, and most DC leaders have been reluctant to take the stronger steps necessary to bring more substantial ethical reform to city politics, but these are a step in the right direction.

Update: The original version of the endorsement said that 2 charter amendments disqualify any candidate with a felony conviction from holding office. In fact, they only disqualify candidates who have gotten that felony conviction while in office, which makes the amendments even less meaningful as ethics reforms, but still worth voting for.

These are the official endorsements of Greater Greater Washington, written by one or more contributors. Active contributors and editors discussed endorsements, and any endorsement reflects a strong consensus in favor of endorsing for or against each issue or candidate.

Comments

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I assume this is the conclusion of the "local" endorsements, but in the future it may be useful to include the language of the ballot initiatives in the post. Also, is there a particular reason why contributors decided not to endorse in ward races, State Board of Education, or shadow senator this year.

by selxic on Oct 26, 2012 10:36 am • linkreport

You can't actually vote twice for the same candidate in a "vote for 2" election. But by only voting for one you do in effect often double the effect of your vote. In DC we call it "Bullet Voting".

Brown and Grosso seem to be in a close election. Thanks to CP for sponsoring a poll so we'd know. Polls in DC elections are rare making it usually hard to know who has the best chance to win out of a flock.

by Tom Coumaris on Oct 26, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

@Selxic

I am guessing it is because none of the ward races are competitive. Also, the shadow senator is basically a worthless position (imo) so that is probably why they didn't waste time with it.

As far as At-Large. Please bullet vote for Grosso. I don't think it makes much difference, as he will certainly beat any of the other challengers, but make certain you keep both Orange and Brown off of your ballot. Unless of course you enjoy seeing our elected council members pleading guilty while in office and being removed, at which point, by all means vote for Brown and Orange.

by Kyle-w on Oct 26, 2012 11:16 am • linkreport

Since this is an official endorsement and a serious matter for DC residents, ts it accurate to say Michael Brown "pushed for" the Redskins facility? I don't remember all the details but is there some sort of link confirming this? Couldn't really find anything during my cursory google search.

I certainly won't be voting for A.J. Cooper and know very little about Grosso since I haven't seen him in Ward 8. I remain undecided on whether I'll support Brown again but will definitely be voting Orange again.

I do laugh at all the bombs thrown at Orange and his concerns about Brown. Now we see the chickens he predicted have come home to roost!

Nate is a shoo-in anyway but the brotha definitely had my vote anyway.

by HogWash on Oct 26, 2012 11:39 am • linkreport

This talk about "bullet voting" is highly misleading. Voting for only one candidate DOES NOT double the value of your vote. It just means your second vote doesn't go to anyone.

If your goal is to move the city forward, the best way to do that is to cast one vote for Grosso, and your second vote for anyone other than Brown or Orange.

by Rob on Oct 26, 2012 11:42 am • linkreport

@HogWash, he certainly pushed at it at the community meeting at the Armory. But you've discounted everything the neighbors heard about it in previous threads on this blog, so there's no need to fight about it again.

by Tim Krepp on Oct 26, 2012 11:58 am • linkreport

I recall some of the problem being with the prospect of a billion dollar company headquartered on Reservation 13 and that didn't allow any discussions to get farther than that, Tim Krepp.

by selxic on Oct 26, 2012 12:13 pm • linkreport

"Bullet vote"? "Double the effect of your vote?"

This is nonsense. Sure, if you don't want Orange of Brown to win, then you probably shouldn't vote for either of them! But there are like 7 candidates on the ballot - so there are 5 you can vote for who are not either of those two. "Bullet voting" means you wasted one of your votes, it doesn't mean you voted twice for someone.

I'm going Grosso and I'm not sure who else; Mary Brooks Beatty seems like a fool and Swain doesn't even seem like he's running. I don't know much about Cooper and his website is a lot of platitudes without a lot of plans.

by MLD on Oct 26, 2012 12:54 pm • linkreport

@Tim, asking a question isn't the same as fighting. As a DC resident undecided about whom I will vote for (other than Orange) I think it's fair and reasonable to ask for clarification on whether Brown "pushed for" the training facility or not, especially since there was never serious consideration given to the idea. What people heard or talked about on a message board simply doesn't count and is rather irrelevant in this case. This is an "education" piece meant to inform voters. "Miseducating" should not be the goal here.

Did he or did he not. That's not a contentious issue.

by HogWash on Oct 26, 2012 12:56 pm • linkreport

"The contributors decided not to endorse in ward races, State Board of Education, or shadow senator this year."

Why not?

by Shipsa01 on Oct 26, 2012 1:17 pm • linkreport

@HogWash
Did he or did he not. That's not a contentious issue.

Tim answered your question:
he certainly pushed at it at the community meeting at the Armory.

I agree with Tim, Brown showed up to that meeting seeking to convince people that DC should have the training facility.

by MLD on Oct 26, 2012 1:21 pm • linkreport

@MLD, If GGW's best example of Brown's narrow and antiquated mindset is what he said at a some one-time community meeting, then here's to why it shouldn't be taken seriously.

I'm looking for serious information about the candidates..not someone's pettiness masked as disseminating important voter information.

It's akin to making a case against Wells because he is amenable to lowering camera fines...which means that he has a regressive view of pedestrian/driver safety.

by HogWash on Oct 26, 2012 1:48 pm • linkreport

HogWash: "As a DC resident undecided about whom I will vote for (other than Orange) I think it's fair and reasonable to ask for clarification on whether Brown "pushed for" the training facility or not, especially since there was never serious consideration given to the idea."

Tim: "he certainly pushed at it at the community meeting at the Armory."

Hogwash (paraphrasing): "I'm looking for serious information about the candidates" and I certainly won't accept what he SAID in a public forum as evidence of that.

I feel like I'm Alice, down the rabbit hole.

by dcd on Oct 26, 2012 2:05 pm • linkreport

Well you clearly already have your mind made up; I don't know why you're even bothering to ask questions.

You asked about a SPECIFIC incident:
Since this is an official endorsement and a serious matter for DC residents, [is] it accurate to say Michael Brown "pushed for" the Redskins facility?

We say "yes, it is accurate" with evidence and you move the goalposts. Thanks, but I'm done here.

by MLD on Oct 26, 2012 2:06 pm • linkreport

@HogWash Yup, could've called that. We've played this game before. Nice try, Lucy, but I'm not kicking the football this time.

@selxic eh? Can you elaborate? I don't know what you're trying to say.

by Tim Krepp on Oct 26, 2012 2:10 pm • linkreport

@DCD, forgive me if I don't take what Tim Krepp said as evidence of Brown "pushing" for the training facility. He's right, we have been here before and I recall there being a lot of hype and exagerration during those discussions.

I guess if someone asked me about it, I could at least say, "well I heard online that he pushed for the training facility." Oh yeah? What did he do or say? "Oh, I don't know, I'm just repeating what I read online." But don't you think you should at least provide some context to what he said? "Nope, there were people at the meeting and on other message boards who agree w/me." But, But, what plan did they introduce for the facility? "They didn't." Yet your decision to not endorse him was based off of a his support of a plan that never was and would never realize? "Yes." And that makes logical sense? "Yes."

Welcome to the world of voter education...

by HogWash on Oct 26, 2012 2:26 pm • linkreport

Bullet voting will be most important for the surprisingly many people who are voting for Brown and Grosso.

by Tom Coumaris on Oct 26, 2012 2:27 pm • linkreport

Personally, when I determine credibility, I favor the guy who uses his real name, but others are welcome to use whatever metric they see fit.

When I was asked about it, I responded with direct observations that I saw. Clearly, for whatever reason, HogWash, you don't believe me. That's fine. But I'm not basing this off of "some message board". I was there. I saw it. It happened in a very real sense.

If you want to call me a liar, you don't need to use as many words.

by Tim Krepp on Oct 26, 2012 2:40 pm • linkreport

And seriously? I fell for this again? I AM an idiot.

by Tim Krepp on Oct 26, 2012 2:41 pm • linkreport

Tim Krepp, were plans presented?

by selxic on Oct 26, 2012 2:52 pm • linkreport

No, no plans were presented. In fact, neither the Mayor nor Councilmember Evans, Alexander, and Brown seemed to have a firm grip on the details of the existing Reservation 13 master plan.

All three seemed taken aback that instead of overwhelming support for the idea, there was deep and widespread opposition. They opened with a "look what we brought you!" kinda pitch. I guess they though if they waved the magic "Redskins" word around, everyone would love it.

This interview with CM Brown was indicative of his attitude. But I'm sure HogWash will discredit it somehow...

http://www.tbd.com/blogs/news-talk/2011/01/a-skins-training-facility-in-dc-also-rep-giffords-remarkable-progress-7478.html

by Tim Krepp on Oct 26, 2012 3:03 pm • linkreport

"And seriously? I fell for this again? I AM an idiot."

That's a little harsh, though Einstein's definition of insanity certainly seems to apply here.

by dcd on Oct 26, 2012 3:26 pm • linkreport

No, no plans were presented. In fact, neither the Mayor nor Councilmember Evans, Alexander, and Brown seemed to have a firm grip on the details of the existing Reservation 13 master plan.

So the serious criticism given to Brown here is based off of his commentary about a nonexistent "bring the training facility back" plan and his lack of understanding about the Res 13's master plan.

Ok I get it. Brown not being against the plan and open to the idea of bringing the facility here amounts to him pushing for the plan..even though at that time he had no idea where it would go or whether the city should use money to pay for it.

In that sense, I can see how people could conclude that Brown was pushing for a training facility and use that as justification for not voting for him. A bit misleading and over the top radical but politics usually is. My apologies.

by HogWash on Oct 26, 2012 3:26 pm • linkreport

BTW, no need to call yourself an idiot nor a liar. Me believing you weren't the most objective credible source doesn't make you either of those things. It's simply my opinion. Take it easy on yourself.

This stuff ain't that serious..especially the part about supporting (or not) a nonexistent plan.

by HogWash on Oct 26, 2012 3:34 pm • linkreport

But if I just try harder, dcd, right? Yes, I'm sure that'll clear it up!

by Tim Krepp on Oct 26, 2012 3:35 pm • linkreport

"So the serious criticism given to Brown here is based off of his commentary about a nonexistent "bring the training facility back" plan and his lack of understanding about the Res 13's master plan."

Hog is Mitt Romney said "We should invade Syria" but didn't know whether to bomb them first, whether to land paratroopers or not, didn't know which divisions or aircraft or ships would be used, would you suggest he was not pushing for an invasion of Syria?

Since when does "X pushed for Y" imply "X had specific plans for achieving Y"?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 3:46 pm • linkreport

At the risk of giving anymore attention to this silliness, I'm curious if we'll ever hear a positive argument from @HogWash supporting any of these guys (i.e. Brown, Orange, etc...). Seems to me, all we ever get is, "He does *not* mean any of those things that he said!"

For my part, I'm voting for Brown because nobody ever proved conclusively that he would have managed to get a Redskins training facility installed on Reservation 13, even if he had wanted to. Which nobody ever proved he did. Want to, that is. So there.

Plus all the other many reasons he is such an attractive candidate which I will not go into.

by oboe on Oct 26, 2012 4:08 pm • linkreport

Since when does "X pushed for Y" imply "X had specific plans for achieving Y"?

I would never in a millions years think to compare the hyperreactive response to a ghost training facility to war.
There are serious international security concerns involved in that decision. Ridiculous squabbles over vacant land just doesn't cut it. But that's just me.

A more appropriate comparison is what I already stated. That is, deciding not to endorse Tommy Wells based on his "amenable" push stance on lowering camera fines even though a "plan" was never in place nor seriously considered. As w/Brown, there are a myriad of other reasons to not support Wells and in such instance I would consider my lack of support shallow at best.

by HogWash on Oct 26, 2012 4:55 pm • linkreport

One of your former contributors has endorsed in an ANC6E race. Shaw's ANC has been such a mess for so long, you might want to give voters who bother to pay attention to the lower end of the ballot a little guidance on how to make the new expanded ANC6E more progressive. There's so much development going on in Shaw. The lack of endorsements for the incumbents speaks volumes.

by Antsy ANCs Voters on Oct 26, 2012 11:16 pm • linkreport

"I would never in a millions years think to compare the hyperreactive response to a ghost training facility to war."

If Mittens said "I want to repeal obamacare" and had no practical plans to do so, you wouldnt say he was trying to repeal obamacare?

As for wells, if he said lowering fines is a good idea, I think its fair to say hes pushing to lower fines, even if he isnt sure how far to lower them, or how to replace the revenue.

Again
Since when does "X pushed for Y" imply "X had specific plans for achieving Y"?

The logic is the same, war, traffic fines, healthcare, or football facility.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 11:51 pm • linkreport

I heard , "we would like to attract," "consider," and "try." Unless the starting point is the organization should not have any presence in DC, then I don't have any problems with anything he said. Maryland, Virginia and DC were not fighting over stadium location, training camps or even the practice facility. They wanted the team headquarters.

by selxic on Oct 28, 2012 9:09 pm • linkreport

I wanted to support David Grosso. But the more I've read about him, the less I can get behind him. The big piece of his political experience I see mentioned in articles like this one is that he worked on Sharon Ambrose's staff on setting up the giveaway of hundreds of millions of public dollars for a ballpark for the Nats. (Seeing how the team's owners don't even feel the need to put up a few thousand for late-night Metro costs during the playoffs, I'm not sure I'd be bragging about that piece of corporate welfare if I were him.)

But when it comes to public support for people (not sports franchises), he's apparently ready to cut back; according to DCist's report on a recent debate, he hedged about whether he'd spend surplus money to restore social services that have been cut in recent years. That was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I'm glad that he has some pro-smart growth positions, but if he's not really committed to supporting low-income folks in this increasingly unaffordable city, he doesn't get my support.

by Mister Goat on Oct 28, 2012 10:02 pm • linkreport

MARY LORD FOR AT-LARGE SCHOOL BOARD! DC students deserve a passionate and experienced leader that can work with the Council to continue improving our schools.

by terrydactyll on Oct 29, 2012 9:47 am • linkreport

@Mister Goat - David has a lifetime of service for low-income folks, he spent a year volunteering/living in a homeless shelter for $45 a month. The nuance is that he believes the surplus money is a result of slack work by the Council - that money should have been properly accounted for in the first place. The surplus money is required, by federal law, to go to the rainy day fund. You will find that Grosso is a fierce advocate for the poor - and will actually legislate in a manner that makes a difference. Aaron Pritchard - Grosso Campaign Manager

by ap on Oct 29, 2012 9:54 am • linkreport

Can you vote for Grosso and then write in a second candidate, "David Grosso"?

by Ward 1 Guy on Oct 30, 2012 10:57 am • linkreport

I actually voted against the last two charter amendments because they prevent those convicted of crimes while in office from being elected again.

Now I'd probably never vote for such a person, and I probably wouldn't want anyone else to either, but as a philosophy, I think that we should not limit who can vote (beyond perhaps a minimum age and residency) and we should not limit who can be voted for.

So I don't support age limitations for candidates, or the "born American" requirement for the President, or keeping criminals from voting, etc...

I don't even support age limits or residency for officeholders. If the good people of Peoria want to elect a 19 year old convicted murderer living in Maine as their Mayor who am I to tell them no. But I have more faith in the electorate than that. The only thing a law like this does is tell a majority of people in the future (those who might elect such a candidate) that you know what is best for them.

by David C on Nov 1, 2012 1:31 pm • linkreport

The Washington Post is recommending voting AGAINST Charter Amendments VI & VII, due to concerns about the way they are written. Would you respond directly to their opinion as to why you think we should vote yes? http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/our-choice-on-dc-charter-amendments/2012/10/26/b80ca368-1d2e-11e2-9cd5-b55c38388962_story.html

by Liz P on Nov 5, 2012 3:56 pm • linkreport

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