Greater Greater Washington

Posts about Elissa Silverman


Wells will not run for DC Council at-large seat; Elissa Silverman declares her candidacy

DC Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6) will put to rest a long period of speculation today and announce he will not run for an at-large seat on the DC Council, GGW has learned. In addition, Elissa Silverman is filing papers this afternoon to run for the seat.

Photo by Tommy Wells on Flickr.

Silverman previously ran in the 2013 special election which was won by Anita Bonds. Silverman placed second in a field which split votes among multiple self-described "progressive" challengers to Bonds, who had been appointed as interim councilmember when Phil Mendelson moved up to chairman.

Wells ran for mayor in the April 1 primary. While he was one of four councilmembers running for mayor, he was the only one up for reelection in the same year, and thus had to give up his seat to seek higher office. Meanwhile, Independent David Catania will also not seek reelection in November to run for mayor against Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser. Wells had considered running for Catania's seat to remain on the council.

Wells confirmed via phone that he has decided not to run. In a statement, he said,

The Council needs an infusion of fresh leadership, and I need to apply my Council experience to new challenges. While it takes time for newly elected council members to learn the ropes, once they do, they bring fresh energy and perspective that more than compensates for time spent on the learning curve. They are eager to get to work on fulfilling their promises, testing new ideas, and addressing the very issues that inspired them to run for officeand won them the votes of their constituents.

I am proud of what I have accomplished during my two terms as the Ward 6 Councilmember. My service has brought action, advocacy, and innovation to our city. I passed a bag fee that has dramatically reduced pollution and funded the cleanup of the Anacostia River; championed and secured funding for expanded Circulator bus lines and a streetcar system that will connect underserved DC neighborhoods to jobs and city amenities; advanced social justice reforms including the decriminalization of marijuana possession and a minimum wage increase; and worked with Ward 6 residents to make our elementary schools the envy of our city.

Wells said he is not publicly endorsing anyone at this time. However, the timing of his announcement on the same day as Silverman's move certainly raises questions about whether the timing is more than coincidental.

Mindful of the vote-splitting from past elections and given that Wells and Silverman share many ideological views (and likely voter bases), it is likely that Silverman did not want to file if Wells were running, and also likely that she discussed the possibility with Wells before making a decision.

Many other people have voiced some level of interest in running for the seat, including current Ward 7 member Yvette Alexander. Eugene Puryear won a contested primary for the Statehood Green nomination for the seat.

This post has been updated with additional information.


Silverman-Frumin talks should come as no surprise

A lot of people are shockedshockedthat Ken Archer, volunteer campaign treasurer for Elissa Silverman, met with Matt Frumin and tried to persuade him to drop out of the race.

Photo by rauchdickson on Flickr.

You know who else had a secret meeting with a candidate about dropping out? Whichever Anita Bonds supporters and backers Whoever persuaded Michael Brown to drop out of the race. You know what didn't happen? Michael Brown's disappointed supporters did not talk about it to the press. Surrogates for his and other campaigns did not profess outrage on Twitter at "backroom deals" and "hypocrisy."

After the poll came out showing Silverman far ahead of Frumin, I heard a lot of people say that "someone" should try to push him to drop out. When Silverman first ran, some people volunteering for her told me that if it turned out near the end that her campaign stood little or no chance, they would push her to drop out to avoid vote-splitting.

Heck, I thought about asking Frumin to drop out, too. I wondered whether I could offer to help Frumin in some way in the future as an incentive. I would like to see both Frumin and Silverman on the council; I told him that I really wished there were 2 seats open.

I certainly wouldn't have offered to support him against Mary Cheh, because Mary Cheh has done a good job, but it certainly sprung to my mind as an obvious possible bargaining chip if Frumin's plan were to run in Ward 3 later on, as many people I talked to at the start of the campaign suspected.

(And before the comment thread gets hijacked to be about Ken Archer and the GGW endorsement: He did not vote in our contributor poll. Our endorsements derive from a poll of regular contributors. In this case, that poll came out decisively for Silverman.)

Look at substance, not campaign operations

Clearly, there's also a lot of cynical politicking in some of the protestations of outrage on Twitter and comments. Some of that is coming from the most back-room, non-transparent political operatives who just see this as an opportunity to take an opponent down a peg and distract potential voters.

Don't be distracted. You can disagree with Elissa Silverman on substance. I agree with her on a lot of things and disagree on others. The same goes for most other candidates. Martin Austermuhle, Dan Silverman, and I tried to elucidate the candidates' views using Let's Choose DC. Disappointingly, the information we gleaned about candidate positions didn't get much attention in the press.

No candidate will be perfect on every policy. If there's a candidate you agree with 100% of the time, chances are you're just about the only one and the candidate is polling in the low single digits. The most successful politicians just manage to avoid taking a stance on anything, so every voter can come to believe they're in agreement with the candidate, especially if they aren't paying a lot of attention.

If anything, one of ways Elissa Silverman shows her lack of candidate experience is by being honest about what she thinks. She's been more forthright in many forums about views that might be unpopular. When I have called her to ask about a policy statement, she has told me straight out what she's thinking right then about that policy. Sometimes, I don't agree. We've argued about it. She could simply listen and try to emphasize points of agreement and hide her disagreement, but she doesn't. It can make me frustrated, but I also respect it a lot.

Do you want the slickest candidates?

Papering over disagreements is something that comes with long experience in electoral politics. People gain that experience by repeatedly running for office or make politics a career, working for elected officials and getting positions in the party machine.

Some of those are great people who do excellent work, but there are a lot in it for personal gain and ambition above all. Many don't really hold such strong values on their vision for the city; they just think it would be better if they ran things.

A lot of people want candidates who are "outsiders" and who are running because they believe in change rather than just want to be in charge. Most of the so-called "outsiders" who successfully run for federal offices nationwide are actually insiders who pretend to be outsiders to fool low-information voters.

If you want genuine outsiders, you're not going to get slick political operations. There are ways outsiders can do more to make their operations more professional, like hiring actual professionals, but that's a lot easier for candidates with a lot of moneywhich usually comes from shady sources.

How can vote-splitting stop?

People running as "reformers" and "progressives" have split the vote in the last 2 at-large elections and probably will tomorrow as well. There are 3 ways to stop this from happening:

  1. Let some people with a lot of money and/or political muscle push people out of the race. Then people have to not be shocked and dismayed when someone tries to do that. (Example: Michael Brown; counterexample: Matt Frumin)
  2. Devise some primary-like system that's more open and participatory, but which comes to a single conclusion, and other candidates agree that they're not going to keep running if they don't win, and almost certainly support the winner. (Example: Hillary Clinton; counterexample: Joe Lieberman)
  3. Reform the election laws to some system where the top 2 candidates go to a runoff, or there's some kind of multiple-voting system. (Examples: runoff election in New York City, instant-runoff voting in San Francisco)

Do you want candidates who are good at pushing people out of a race without their fingerprints on it? People who can successfully win while taking few or no positions at all? People with large staffs of highly-paid expert campaign operatives funded with piles of lobbyist money?

If so, by all means be outraged that Ken talked to Matt Frumin about dropping out. Otherwise, make up your mind tomorrow based on actual positions and the available polls, not on this.

Update: Anita Bonds' campaign says in a statement that they had nothing to do with Michael Brown dropping out. I did not say that Bonds' campaign pressured Brown to drop out, as many people are backing her who don't coordinate with the campaign. It seems extremely likely that some people with influence over Brown recognized the likely vote splitting and pushed Brown to get out. However, this is indeed conjecture, so I've reworded the intro to not sound like it is claiming any knowledge or facts that don't exist.


Bonds, Mara wouldn't sacrifice parking for a bike lane

Tim Craig, Mike DeBonis, and Emma Brown asked the at-large candidates about a number of different issues that matter to DC residents, from testing in schools to police to bike lanes.

Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

A question on bike lanes revealed some interesting differences of opinion. Patrick Mara (and Anita Bonds and Perry Redd) seem to prioritize not removing any parking over bike lanes, while Elissa Silverman was the strongest supporter:

"Would you support a new bicycle lane on Connecticut Avenue NW, even if it resulted in fewer on-street parking spots or altered traffic patterns?"

Matt Frumin and Paul Zukerberg would need more information about the lane's design before giving an opinion. Bonds, Redd and Mara are inclined to oppose it, worried about a loss of on-street parking. Silverman is inclined to support it. "If we are to promote cycling, we need to promote cycling on our major thoroughfares," she said.

Accommodating bicycling on Connecticut Avenue is a good idea, though I'm not aware of concrete plans to put a bike lane there right now or whether it would cost parking. Some bicycle infrastructure does supplant a small amount of parking, like on L and M Streets downtown, so the general thrust of the question is helpful.

Mara also did not provide any responses to the Let's Choose DC question on bicycling. Bonds did, but people who voted on the questions were generally unimpressed with her answer.

On the Post interview, all candidates agreed on relaxing the height limit in a few places outside the core. Everyone but Zukerberg thinks there should be more restaurants east of the Anacostia. Mara and Bonds appear the least supportive of legalizing marijuana.

On a possible NFL stadium on the RFK site, the Post asked if candidates would support a stadium if Dan Snyder would pay for it but wouldn't change his team's name. All but Mara opposed the idea:

Redd, Zukerberg, Bonds and Frumin all said no. Silverman would oppose it, saying the focus should be on redeveloping the area around RFK Stadium with new housing and retail. Mara hopes the Redskins change their name, but the matter would not dissuade him from supporting a new team-funded stadium.
On top of that, a stadium proposal very likely would not actually mean Snyder paid all of the cost; at the very least, DC would have to fund considerable infrastructure and site work. It'd be helpful to know if Mara (or any of them) would spend city dollars for a stadium, and how much.

These are just a few of the issues that matter to residents. Read the whole article.


Candidates want affordable housing, balk at more housing

One of the most significant ways to ensure some affordable housing is to provide more housing. It's not the only way and not sufficient on its own, but the clear connection between housing supply and price appears lost on multiple candidates for the April 23 DC Council at-large special election.

Photo by james.thompson on Flickr.

At a Chevy Chase Community Association meeting last week, many candidates affirmed support for affordable housing, according to a report on the Chevy Chase listserv, but then wavered or even outright opposed allowing people to rent out basements, garages, or parts of their homes to create new housing opportunities.

Lorrie Scally wrote:

Patrick Mara said "No" to the rentals because he feared they would result in an overflow of students into already crowded schools.

Meanwhile, according to Scally, "Matthew Frumin expressed his support for ADU rentals in all residential neighborhoods," while Elissa Silverman said she wants to ensure they don't impact neighbors much (similar to what she said on Let's Choose DC).

Yet, Scally said, "The candidates' presentations gave support to DC education issues and affordable housing for residents." Mara has endorsed affordable housing spending in the past; on one of the Let's Choose questions he actually answered, he said, "I'm certain we can find the millions need to fund libraries and affordable housing initiatives." He told the DC realtors, "The cultural diversity of DC is at risk if we do not protect and build affordable housing."

Anita Bonds did not attend the forum.

Adding housing must be a part of the housing strategy

About 1,000 more people move into the District each month than the number who leave. Moreover, the demand to come into DC is even greater than this.

Absent enough new housing, many people who want to come here will rent or buy units in gentrifying neighborhoods where prices are still lower than elsewhere. That raises housing prices in those neighborhoods, hastening the problem of some longtime residents being or feeling priced out, and others deciding to take a windfall and sell their houses at a big profit.

If we want longtime residents to stay, an important element of the equation is to find somewhere else for the people to live who want to come into DC. Basement and garage apartments are one important potential source. We already have large single-family houses with one or two retirees who aren't actually using the whole house. Letting them rent the space is a win-win for everyone except for those who want to keep the neighborhood exclusive and underpopulated relative to its 1950 size.

A lot of people in Ward 3 would rather the population growth go somewhere else. A lot of people vote in Ward 3, and several candidates are clearly seeking their votes. But letting a whole section of the city opt out of growth is not the right policy. It harms poorer neighborhoods by diverting more housing pressure to other areas, hastening gentrification.

How do the candidates stack up?

Four years ago, when I endorsed Patrick Mara, I perhaps assumed too readily that because he lives in a denser neighborhood and bicycles, he also supports a growing city. He might, but he came out strongly against a new matter-of-right building in Chevy Chase, opposes accessory dwellings, and refused to answer either of the two Let's Choose questions on growth. That's disappointing and a little surprising for someone who claims to want less government regulation.

I'm also disappointed Elissa Silverman has not been stronger on smart growth. She has less reason to try to pander for votes in Ward 3, when Ward 6 has become the highest-voting ward. Many of Ward 3's supposedly-liberal residents and newspapers nonetheless seem to go for whomever will lower their own taxes. As a supporter of affordable housing and equity for all neighborhoods, she also shouldn't tolerate some residents west of Rock Creek trying to redline growth and change solely to the east.

Unfortunately, while Matthew Frumin has been willing to stand up for (reasonable) growth more vocally than others, this morning's poll seems to confirm that he is most likely to play a "spoiler" role. Our readers, contributors, and I myself have often wrestled with how to think through the game theory of a race, and decide how much to weigh various policy positions or trade off candidate strengths versus electability.

This post is not an endorsement; our policy is to decide endorsements by a poll of recent, active contributors, which came out clearly for Silverman. On balance, I'm still going to vote for her, too. Besides, zoning isn't the only issue that matters, and she has some definite strengths on workforce development, oversight of city agencies, and more.

But just because we've endorsed should not prevent us from helping inform readers about candidates' positions, whether or not they comport with our endorsement (in this case, it's mostly a neutral effect), or holding candidates responsible for staking out good positions.


For DC Council: Elissa Silverman

DC voters will choose an at-large member of the DC Council in a special election on April 23. While there has been fairly little coverage of the race or candidates' positions, the choice voters make in this likely low-turnout election will have a major impact on many important issues to District residents. We believe that Elissa Silverman is the best choice.

Image from the candidate's website.

We believe that our leaders should devote much of our city's monetary prosperity to two goals: economic growth that furthers that prosperity, and efforts to truly help those most in financial need to ensure they are not left behind. Ms. Silverman has a very strong track record in this area.

DC has unfortunately had a recent string of elected officials who have instead funneled money to people with connections to those in power in the city government. Their influence ultimately enriches those in power. Ms. Silverman has a clear commitment to reforming government ethics from her work advancing DC's Initiative 70, the recent proposed ballot initiative.

Ms. Silverman embraces transit, mixed-use zoning, and the need especially to safeguard pedestrians now that the city is more walkable every year. She emphasizes the need to encourage more housing units for families as many of the young people who have moved to the District begin families and want to remain in the District's walkable, bikeable and transit-oriented neighborhoods.

Thanks to her journalism background, Ms. Silverman has demonstrated that she can ask very penetrating questions on policy details. When talking with editors about issues such as the zoning update, for instance, she probed much more deeply into the effects and tradeoffs than other candidates or even many advocates.

She has said that she wants to turn this skill toward oversight of District agencies such as DCRA; this would be an invaluable asset to residents who find agencies often papering over inefficiency. She has advocated reforming DCRA to make it easier for District residents to open businesses as well.

Matthew Frumin scored very well on Let's Choose DC, most often slightly ahead of Ms. Silverman and sometimes slightly behind. Mr. Frumin has made very valuable contributions to the District through his civic efforts, such as building coalitions on the Tenleytown ANC. However, we feel he still faces significant challenges to connecting with voters outside of upper Northwest. This will not only be a prerequisite to win but a necessary component to being an at-large councilmember.

Mr. Frumin also has less detailed knowledge of the District government's operations and major policies outside of a few areas of strength such as education. While being an expert is not mandatory for a new council candidate, with Ms. Silverman in the race, her greater expertise is a strong asset. The winner of this race will have to instantly start participating in budget negotiations and then continue to operate on the council while almost immediately running for re-election in the April 2014 primary.

We hope Mr. Frumin will continue participating on the citywide stage in other ways following the campaign, and has strong potential to be a top-tier candidate in a future at-large race once he has built more connections and experience working with neighborhood leaders citywide.

Patrick Mara has garnered some significant support in DC based on his recent races and repeated endorsements from the Washington Post. David Alpert also endorsed Mr. Mara in his previous race (against Michael Brown, who is running again this year). However, he has not shown the depth that one would expect from a repeated candidate, and did not answer several Let's Choose DC questions.

The Washington Post's endorsement last week largely centered around his views on cutting taxes and school reform. We don't disagree with charter schools or school reform by any means, but feel that education in the District needs more analysis into what actually works instead of blind ideology. Mr. Mara has made education a centerpiece of his campaign, but when pressed, hasn't been able to actually put forth compelling insights on the matter.

Michael Brown has a strong commitment to helping the less fortunate, such as his stalwart defense of affordable housing which was very welcome on the council. However, Mr. Brown has repeatedly made clear that he is skeptical of a growing city and is very quick to side with the residents most afraid of change, such as with his response on the DC zoning update at Let's Choose DC or his letter of "concern" almost a year ago.

Mr. Brown was the only candidate to oppose several avenues of ethics reform on that question on Let's Choose. Financial mismanagement problems such as unpaid rent continue to dog Mr. Brown, as did malfeasance by his previous campaign treasurer, even though there has not been any evidence that he himself violated campaign finance laws.

Anita Bonds has not chosen to engage with our community by only responding to one Let's Choose DC question. While we didn't want to prejudge her longtime ties to much of DC's machine power structure, she has not availed herself of opportunities to demonstrate her independence from that machine or policy reasons to support her. She also initially promised to serve as a full-time councilmember, but has since backed off that commitment.

Perry Redd and Paul Zukerberg have valuable perspectives to contribute, and we also agree with Mr. Zukerberg's core message that excessive prosecution of minor drug offenses creates a dangerous environment with too many young people having criminal records at huge expense to taxpayers. We hope both will continue to participate in civic discourse and that the DC Council will take up marijuana decriminalization soon.

Voters considering themselves "urbanists," "progressives," or just "reformers" have seen their votes split in several recent elections, including the last two for at-large council. A number of civic and business leaders have lined up behind Ms. Silverman, including respected top Fenty administration officials like Neil Albert and Victor Reinoso, and we hope that all residents will do the same and elect her to the DC Council on April 23.

This is the official endorsement of Greater Greater Washington, written by one or more contributors. Active regular contributors and editors voted on endorsements, and any endorsement reflects a strong majority or greater in favor of endorsing the candidate.

Disclosures: Elissa Silverman also submitted 4 guest articles to Greater Greater Washington in 2011 and 2012. We had also specifically invited Patrick Mara (after previous campaigns) and Matthew Frumin (before the current campaign) to submit guest posts, in keeping with our general policy of encouraging guest posts from many people active in local affairs. Also, Ken Archer, who serves as Silverman's treasurer, is a Greater Greater Washington editor. He did not vote in the internal poll or write any of this endorsement.


Frumin, Silverman again top Let's Choose on zoning

The results are now up on Let's Choose DC for the 9th question, on the zoning update. For the 7th question in a row on Let's Choose DC, Matthew Frumin and Elissa Silverman shared the number one and two spots.

The question was about the zoning update, an issue we've discussed here perhaps more than any other. Both Frumin and Silverman expressed support for at least many elements of the proposals, but also insisted that they want to be sure to protect established residents' interests in some ways as well.

There's nothing wrong with striking a balance, but the question ultimately boils down to who will stand up strongly for a growing and inclusive city when the really tough votes arise on the Council.

It's clear Michael Brown won't. He wrote in his response, "I have frequently taken the side of the surrounding neighborhoods and stood with the residents to oppose certain aspects of the growth plans." And he said at a Ward 8 forum, "And my beliefs are trying to make sure, as a third generation Washingtonian, making sure this city stays the way I remember it."

We don't really know about Mara or Bonds. Neither has replied to requests to take a stand, and Mara gave a very vague answer on the issue when I asked him about the issue at a meeting.

What can we conclude?

On a Greater Greater Washington note and not a Let's Choose note, for urbanists trying to pick a candidate to vote for on April 23, it seems you have fairly clearly spoken that the choice lies between these two.

When I envisioned Let's Choose DC, my hope (but not necessarily that of Martin at DCist and Dan at PoPville) was that a completely neutral, non-endorsing process might help people coalesce around one candidate on their own. As it's turned out, that coalescing did happen, but thus far around two candidates rather than one.

Patrick Mara (who I endorsed 4 years ago) stopped participating several weeks back, and missed several previous questions as well. Plus, when he did participate, his ratings in the voting were never very strong (placing 8th on question 2 and 4th and 3rd on the others where he responded).

Paul Zukerberg and Perry Redd have reliably kept participating, and while they racked up lower totals, they took advantage of an opportunity to help more residents understand their views. Anita Bonds only sent in a response once time, and scored low. Michael Brown has participated a few times, but to almost universally low marks.

Is our community split down the middle between Frumin and Silverman, or do most of us simply like both of them? Who If you're undecided between Frumin and Silverman, what would help you make up your mind?

Update: The original version of this post mixed some of my own commentary with Let's Choose information in a way that could have been confusing or mislead people about the political intent of the site. I've rearranged it to split the two.


Capitol Hill ANC poised to endorse zoning update

ANC 6B, which covers the southern portion of Capitol Hill, is likely to endorse the DC zoning update after a majority of its members voted in favor at a committee meeting. It would join Glover Park's ANC 3B, which endorsed the proposals about 2 weeks ago.

Photo by katmeresin on Flickr.

In a post on his blog, Capitol Hill Corner, resident Larry Janezich (who clearly doesn't agree with the zoning update) reports that chairman Brian Flahaven, vice-chairman Ivan Frishberg, commissioners Nichole Opkins, Kirsten Oldenburg, Brian Pate, and Phil Peisch all voted for the proposals, along with 3 resident (non-commissioner) members.

According to Janezich, commissioners cited the value of encouraging more affordable housing and reducing car pollution, among other reasons, for supporting proposals to reduce parking minimums and allow accessory dwellings in single-family areas. Another part of the zoning update, allowing more corner stores in residential areas, appeared less controversial.

A majority of the ANC voted for the changes at the meeting, making it very likely they will fully approve these recommendations at their full meeting on Tuesday.

Not everyone supported the changes. Francis Campbell, Chander Jayaraman, and Dave Garrison voted no. It also got opposition from Ken Jarboe, a former commissioner defeated by Pate in 2010; Jarboe spoke against reducing parking minimums back in 2008 during the first round of Zoning Commission hearings. Janezich writes:

Former ANC commissioner Ken Jarboe, who worked on the ANC's Regulation Review Task Force, said he opposed the OP proposals because no alternative to taking away the parking had been presented. He pointed to the problems likely to ensue from the plan to put multiple small units in the Medlink building (7th and Constitution, NE) with no onsite parking. He said he was frustrated by people trying to use the Zoning Code to fix a problem that you can't solve by using the Zoning Code, likening the effort to using a hatchet where a scalpel was needed.
It's funny Jarboe makes that last point, because that statement is a perfect argument for removing the minimums, not against them. Much of the opposition to removing parking minimums has nothing to do with parking minimums at all, but on-street parking. People are afraid that the change will mean more cars competing for limited space on the street, but that's already a problem, minimums or no minimums.

At a recent debate, Elissa Silverman expressed some trepidation about removing parking minimums entirely. I had a very productive conversation with her on the phone, and we were able to explore the issues more deeply. I pointed out the analogy to why the government doesn't require, say, rooftop pools on every building. That would certainly make buildings more expensive, though it's something many residents would benefit from.

One difference, Silverman noted, is that omitting rooftop pools has no detrimental impact on other neighbors. And this is what she had been most concerned about: new development significantly upsetting existing residents' ability to park on a street near their home.

Many zoning update opponents keep claiming that no parking minimums means no parking, but that's fallacious. The Park Van Ness project, for instance, is building 226 parking spaces, far more than zoning requires, even though it is a matter-of-right proejct and 2 blocks from a Metro station.

People are also already parking on the street even when buildings have a lot of parking. Often they park on the street and spaces in the building go empty, because on-street spaces are cheaper and more convenient. In short, we have a problem that parking minimums aren't solving today. The solution, therefore, is not to keep things as they are, but to actually solve the problem directly.

Silverman also said that she wants to see housing near Metro stations accommodate everyone from singles to larger families, but a lot of buildings in places like H Street and 14th Street are just providing studios and one bedrooms. I agree we should have housing for families. Again, though, parking minimums are doing nothing today to ensure family housing near Metro stations.

There are definite problems with our parking policies today. We don't effectively manage on-street parking spaces. That causes problems. Jarboe is, therefore, right to be "frustrated by people trying to use the Zoning Code to fix a problem that you can't solve by using the Zoning Code." People are trying to use the zoning code to protect some residents' ability to park on the street, a problem you can't solve by using the zoning code.

Our current parking minimums don't fix on-street parking; if they did, it wouldn't be a problem today. They don't ensure family housing; if they did, we'd have more being built. It's wrong to oppose reducing parking minimums because of other problems which our parking minimums aren't preventing anyway.


Brown bombs on ethics; Silverman edges Frumin

Only 2.5% of voters gave Michael Brown positive marks for his response on ethics this week on Let's Choose DC (a partnership of Greater Greater Washington, DCist, and PoPville). Elissa Silverman took the top spot in your judgment, with Matthew Frumin second.

We asked the candidates to give their positions on 6 ethics proposals:

  • Ban or limit outside employment
  • Eliminate or constrain constituent service funds
  • Ban corporate contributions to campaigns
  • Ban "bundling" from multiple entities controlled by same person
  • Ban contributions by contractors and/or lobbyists who do business with DC
  • Forbid free or discounted legal services, travel gifts, sports tickets for councilmembers
Silverman touted her work on Initiative 70 pushing to enshrine the third of these into law. She, Frumin, Patrick Mara, John Settles, and Michael Brown all also endorsed public financing of elections. Paul Zukerberg explicitly opposed it; while we don't know why voters chose as they did, perhaps most of you disagreed and that contributed to his 6th place finish.

Michael Brown, meanwhile, opposed banning outside employment and changes to constituent service funds. He also did not address the proposals involving monetary or in-kind campaign contributions. As a consequence, 47% of you said he did not answer the question while giving him the lowest finish of any candidate on any question thus far on Let's Choose DC.

This week, we're asking about school truancy. See the responses and vote now!


Matt Frumin best on growth; Silverman, Settles follow

Residents who voted on the fourth question for Let's Choose DC, on how DC can accommodate the growth it needs, liked Matt Frumin's answer the most. Elissa Silverman and John Settles also got high marks.

79% of readers gave positive ratings to Matt Frumin. He talked about building mixed-use developments on commercial corridors and near Metro stations, and mentioned the need to let homeowners rent out spaces in their houses as accessory dwellings.

Frumin also emphasized how we need housing affordable for people at various income levels to keep neighborhoods desirable and diverse, and also talked about the importance of schools, which is one of the major touchpoints of his campaign.

Silverman discussed affordable housing as well, with specific ideas about how to shore up the finances for those programs. She also talked about the need to expand transit service and grow "without turning our streets into gridlock or a game of Frogger for pedestrians and bicyclists." 64% of readers rated her response positively.

Unfortunately, Patrick Mara did not decide to participate in this question, nor did Michael Brown or Anita Bonds. (Mara and Brown did submit answers to the following question, on the surplus.) You can vote on that question until midnight Monday.

This is now the fourth question with results. Elissa Silverman placed first in the first one, with Matt Frumin second. Silverman, Frumin, and John Settles were all very close on #2 and #3, and on this one, Frumin got a clear first and Silverman second. Overall, the voting on Let's Choose DC seems to put the two of them close together for the top spot, with John Settles decidedly in the hunt as well.

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