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Posts about John Settles


Will the next mayor build a new football stadium?

We interviewed candidates for DC mayor and competitive council races for the April 1 primary, and recorded the conversations on video. Here are the discussions about a potential football stadium with candidates for all of the races we covered. See all of the interviews here.

There's a lot of popular support inside DC for having the Washington NFL team play its games in the District instead of Landover, Maryland. But at what cost, and is that worth it?

Photo by Aaron G Stock on Flickr.

Mayor Vincent Gray thinks so. He said,

I think it's got economic development potential. We've seen it with the baseball stadium. There were those who were very skeptical about whether the baseball stadium would have any catalytic effect at all. ... We can see what's happening there and I think the stadium and the team both are a factor in that.

And then I think it's something as straightforward as civic spirit.

There are people who believe our Washington team contribute to the psychic health—especially when they win—of the city. And all these years later, the team has been gone now 16, 17 years maybe longer, but I hear people constantly, constantly say to me, "Hey Mayor, when are we going to get the Washington football team back in to the city?"
Gray also believes locating the stadium in the city would lead to more players living in the city, as he said has happened with the Wizards and Capitals: "Far more of those players live in the city than would otherwise be the case if they were practicing outside the District of Columbia," he said.

Jack Evans, the Ward 2 councilmember who is also running for mayor, talked about his vision to rebuild RFK stadium as a new, 75,000-seat retractable-roof stadium.

When you mention the football team, people want the team back in the city. And even people in the suburbs want the team back in the city. ... What is a good location for it? Obviously the RFK site makes the most sense ... keeping in mind that it is federal land. ... The law states the only thing that can be constructed on that land is a stadium.
I pointed out that, in fact, the law simply says it should serve a recreational use, not necessarily professional football, but Evans still favors a football stadium.
In the metropolitan region, that is the best site for a football stadium, barring none, because of the transportation. You have the subway right on site, and a bunch of access roads. When then Nationals were playing at that stadium when the Yankees came to town, and we sold out 50-some thousand people at that stadium. We were able to get people in and out very quickly. That's the model you would use for a 75,000-seat stadium: The access, the location, there's so much benefit there. One could argue you could use it for something different, but if you're going to put a stadium in the metropolitan area, that's where you would put it.
Evans also said that the stadium would bring in development, "like we're seeing around Nationals Stadium or over at the Verizon Center." He called the idea a "big economic driver."

Meanwhile, Ward 6 council candidate Charles Allen doesn't think a stadium is the best use of the RFK site (which immediately abuts Ward 6):

I think building a stadium for 8 days out of the year is a bad idea. When you look at that site right now, it's an ocean of asphalt.

There's an amazing proposal called the Capital Riverside Youth Sports Park. We need to have more green space. I want to rip up all that asphalt and replace it with this concept, and have it run all the way to the Anacostia.

It's also an environmental justice issue. Every time we have a storm, every time we pile up snow and call it Mount Fenty, we have a devastating impact on the Anacostia River.

Sketch of proposed Capitol Riverside Youth Sports Park. Image from CRYSP.

Allen's opponent, Darrel Thompson, would like to bring the team back to DC, but not at the RFK site. "RFK is not the best site," he said. "We should find another location. ... You've got an awful lot of residents that don't want to see that. We have to make sure we've been listening to the residents."

But, I asked, any potential site would likely have residents opposed. Is it realistic to say the team should come back to the District but not at RFK because residents don't want it there. "We've got to look at all the different options," he responded.

At-large DC Council candidates John Settles and Pedro Rubio would like to see alternate uses for the site, possibly including housing. Settles said, "I look at RFK, and I see too much opportunity. I'd like to redevelop that. It could be a great mixed-use village that has everything from housing to entertainment space to fields to green space."

Rubio said, "As much as I want the Redskins to play in DC, with the traffic that comes with it, the space that's needed for affordable housing, I like them where they are right now. We can use the space for affordable housing, for nonprofits, colleges and schools."

Brianne Nadeau, who is running for council in Ward 1, isn't totally opposed to a stadium deal, but doesn't see it as very realistic to find a deal that's actually good for DC.

I don't think we have a football team owner that's particularly amenable to working with the District in a way that we would benefit. If that changes, I would rethink that. The other thing is with a football team, they take up a lot of space. There's so much parking lot area. ... I think we would have to be creative if we were ever going to do [a stadium]. How do we use it for the other 8 months of the year, and make sure it's the best use of space?
Her opponent, incumbent councilmember Jim Graham, would wait and see if there is every a real proposal. He said, "Dreaming is very important. I think people should continue to have [dreams]. ... When there's something there to hold onto, let's talk about it. There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip in that regard."

You can watch all of the videos below.

Vincent Gray:

Jack Evans:

Charles Allen:

Darrel Thompson:

John Settles:

Pedro Rubio:

Brianne Nadeau:

Jim Graham:


DC schools need a mayor who's in a hurry

Ask most of the candidates in the District's April 1 Democratic primary about the gap between our most and least successful public schools, and they'll tell you they want every school to be great. That's a laudable aspiration, but at our current pace it will take more than a generation to get there. Sadly, few candidates support acting boldly to change the lives of students being left behind.

Photo by Eirien on Flickr.

The District's traditional public schools have made significant strides, with scores rising to the point at which last year 47 percent of D.C. Public Schools students scored proficient in reading on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System (D.C.-CAS), the District's standardized test, and 50 percent did so in math. But that means only about half of our students are able to perform fairly basic math and reading tasks.

There is a long way to go. And the gap in achievement between wealthier and poor kids not only persists but also is increasing in some areas.

The bottom line is that the pace of change has been excruciatingly slow, with scores rising only about 1.3 percentage points per year. At that rate, true change will not come until the children of many of today's elementary school students are starting school.

Continue reading our latest op-ed in the Washington Post.


DC Council race reviews: At-large and chairman

To choose our endorsements, we polled our active regular contributors and editors to hear their views. Sometimes, as with Ward 1 (Brianne Nadeau), Ward 5 (Kenyan McDuffie), and Ward 6 (Charles Allen), the consensus was clear. For other races, such as DC Council at large and chairman, our contributors were clearly divided or conflicted.

Split pea photo from Shutterstock.

For these races, therefore, we are not making an explicit endorsement. But many of you are not just looking for us to give you a name; you want information to help you make up your minds.

Therefore, here are a selection of comments that various contributors and editors made in the endorsement poll, to illuminate the various reasons to vote for or against various candidates.

At-large Councilmember

Contributors were unified in agreeing that Anita Bonds is not a good councilmember. She has had virtually no accomplishments in her year on the council, continues to pose a significant potential for ethical conflicts of interest as a paid employee of a construction contractor which does work for the DC government. See correction below.

However, they were just about evenly split on the question of who is the best alternative.

John Settles, Nate Bennett-Fleming. Images from the candidate websites.

Contributors largely split into two rough camps. Some have been engaged in progressive organizations and causes, know Nate Bennett-Fleming from them, and supported him. Many of those also participated in the endorsement processes of organizations like DC for Democracy, Jews United for Justice Action Fund, and the DC Sierra Club which have endorsed him.

Others formed their opinions based on public statements specifically around Greater Greater Washington topics at candidate events or on our video interviews; those contributors largely preferred John Settles and said Bennett-Fleming seemed to lack real ideas on topics like housing and transit.

One could interpret this two ways. It could be that Settles is the best candidate, and Bennett-Fleming simply has built up more personal relationships with some contributors. On the other hand, it could also mean that those who know Bennett-Fleming well see beyond simply some weaknesses in talking about issues and know his deeper strengths.

Here is what contributors said for John Settles:

"My impression is that [Settles] has the best ideas on how to help solve the affordable housing issues. I think if that were the sole criteria, he would easily get the nod. I also think he would be aligned with smart growth principles like the zoning rewrite, although his standard response is that he's in favor of anything that will help with getting more affordable housing."

"I have met Settles many times and I like his openness to new ideas. He listens and has a good sense for smart policy."

"I was impressed with him in the last go round (during Let's Choose DC). He also had the most nuanced and complete answer in the video series."

Here are some of the contributor comments in favor of Bennett-Fleming:
"Nate is sometimes green, but he's a strong progressive voice and I believe he would be a quick study on the council."

"Nate has shown follow-through in his role as shadow-rep, and I think he can take it to the next level—not without some expected hiccups—as an at-large CM."

"Nate is young, smart and energetic and full of good policy ideas. He is a committed progressive focused on making DC a better place to live and work, mainly through proper public investments, and through higher wages, better labor laws, and more job training. He would work to combat poverty from multiple fronts and make living in the city more affordable, and he has good ideas on education such as smaller class sizes and investing in the arts."

What about strategy? Does one have the edge? Unfortunately, nobody seems to yet have polled this race. If one of the two turns out to be well ahead of the other, that could be a good reason to strategically choose that candidate.

For what it's worth (and money is far from everything), the DC campaign filings came out today. Settles raised $20,000 this period for a total of $48,000 in the race. Bennett-Fleming raised $5,800 to bring his total to almost $32,000. And Bonds brought in about $17,000 bringing her total to $61,000.

Pedro Rubio also impressed some contributors with his thoughts on the issues in our video series, but he seems to have garnered far less support (and cash, raising $7,500 for a cumulative total of about $10,000). Still, we hope he will stay involved in citywide local issues besides through electoral politics.

Chairman of the Council

Phil Mendelson. Photo by mar is sea Y on Flickr.
The question here is not really between two candidates. Incumbent chairman Phil Mendelson is the one for whom almost all contributors and editors, at least those who filled out the survey, will be voting. However, many are doing so with some definite reservations.

One wrote, "I'll be voting for Phil, but in general, I find him lackluster and a bit too reserved/conservative." On the other hand, another said, "Mendelson has been a solid chair. He has managed the Council effectively and gotten through some important pieces of legislation. He is a strong voice on environmental issues."

Several voted to make no endorsement (which was one of the options in our poll), with statements like these:

"Phil Mendelson, while being a reliable vote on a lot of progressive social issues, is actually quite conservative on issues related to smart growth."

"I have strong views against Phil for his continued actions in support of NIMBY causes; witness the continued and unnecessary hearings with OP and his appalling actions on opposing changes to the Height Act on the grounds the council and the citizens could not be trusted to make their own decisions. ... His scaling back of the medical marijuana initiative to make it extremely tough for those who need it to get it is shameful."

This is perhaps the most even-handed summary:
"Phil Mendelson has been skeptical of the zoning rewrite, streetcars, and more. But at the end of the day he has helped to push things forward despite a diverse and fractious Council. He takes a patient, measured approach to issues which has been helpful for DC."
Meanwhile, Calvin Gurley has waged numerous campaigns but none seem to have been very serious or built up any significant support.

So why not endorse Mendelson? We feel that any endorsement needs to factor in a balance of how good a candidate is on Greater Greater Washington's issues, how contributors might feel about the candidate based on other issues as well, and the likelihood a vote will ultimately sway the race.

Given that Mendelson is not seriously facing a challenge, it seems unreasonable this year to give him an endorsement simply on the basis of other issues and competence when he has only posed obstacles on the issues we follow most closely. His ability to do so is also greater this year since he gained oversight over planning in 2013.

Correction: The original version of this article said that Anita Bonds was still employed by Ft. Myer Construction, where she was working before being appointed and then elected to a seat on the council. According to Bonds, she stepped down from her position at Ft. Myer after being elected to the council.

Her LinkedIn page still lists Ft. Myer as a current job, but her spokesperson David Meadows says that has not been updated. The DC Board of Ethics and Government Accountability says that all councilmembers are required to file a form listing outside income, but because Bonds was not a public official for 30 days in 2012 (she was appointed as an interim member in early December), she does not have to file that form until May 15, 2014.

Bonds also said that the reason her campaign never responded to our requests to include her in the video interview series was because a lot of messages that went to the contact person listed on their filing with the Board of Elections never reached them. She said that they didn't receive a number of organizations' issue questionnaires for the same reason.


At-large DC Council candidates favor extended school hours for low-performing schools

We interviewed candidates for DC mayor and competitive council races for the April 1 primary, and recorded the conversations on video. We will be posting the videos for each subject area and each race over a few weeks. Here are the discussions about education with candidates for DC Council at-large. See all of the discussions here.

Left to right: John Settles, Nate Bennett-Fleming, Pedro Rubio. Images from the candidate websites.

The 3 challenger candidates for the at-large seat on the DC Council all support the idea of extended school hours or afterschool programs to increase the pace of progress at DCPS's lowest-performing schools.

Asked whether they would support some form of an extended school day, Nate Bennett-Fleming, Pedro Rubio, and John Settles all unhesitatingly said they would. Settles and Rubio identified the main obstacle as the teachers' union and its demands for additional compensation for longer hours.

Settles said he had seen signs of some flexibility on the teachers' part, suggesting they might be willing to accept perks like more vacation time rather than increased pay. And Rubio advocated funding more afterschool programs that involve volunteers and community organizations.

Bennett-Fleming offered a similar solution, calling for increased funding for enrichment programs after regular school hours.

"I believe that what happens outside of the classroom, after school, is just as important as what happens during the school day," he said.

Both Settles and Bennett-Fleming also advocate establishing community schools, which would serve as a base for social- and health-service providers. They also mentioned increasing teacher retention rates in high-poverty schools by focusing on student growth rather than measuring student achievement against a set proficiency rate.

Pedro Rubio talked about the need to understand the differences between schools with large proportions of Latino students and schools that are 99% or 100% African-American, saying that members of different groups may have different needs. (Incumbent At-Large DC Councilmember Anita Bonds is also in the race but didn't respond to interview requests.)

Bennett-Fleming's proposals

Of the 3 candidates, Bennett-Fleming had the most fleshed-out array of ideas to increase student achievement and, as he put it, "raise expectations." He mentioned a number of changes to the curriculum, including a greater emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and a greater focus on developing analytical skills rather than preparing students for multiple-choice standardized tests. Schools should use technology to personalize instruction, he added, and every school should have a library.

Bennett-Fleming listed innovations that he said would show students they're expected to go to college, some of which have been tried in other cities. Among them were giving every pre-K student some money to start a college savings fund and offering "education cafés" throughout the District, where students could meet with college counselors and use computers for test prep classes and college applications.

He also said he's exploring the idea of making community college free for all DC students. He mentioned the possibility of setting up guaranteed-admission agreements between DC's community college and 4-year colleges around the country.

"I've been to some of our lowest-performing schools," Bennett-Fleming said, "and taught classes—Anacostia, Ballou, H.D. Woodson. Part of the problem is that the students know that the teachers do not expect much from them."

Boundaries and feeder patterns

In his answers, Rubio also drew on his own experience as a volunteer who has worked with at-risk youth and as a student who was "average" and "made some mistakes," but he offered less in the way of policy analysis than the other two candidates.

All 3 candidates support ensuring that at least some out-of-boundary students continue to have a chance to attend higher-performing DCPS schools in Wards 2 and 3. But Rubio favored allowing greater access to those schools to kids from across the District, while Settles and Bennett-Fleming emphasized the need to improve schools in all neighborhoods.

"I feel like a child from Ward 8 should be able to go to school in Ward 2 or Ward 3 if they desire to," Rubio said, noting that he was able to avoid attending Roosevelt High School by going to live with an uncle in Prince George's County.

That experience was key to helping him flourish academically and setting him on the right track. "And I think other kids deserve a chance at the same opportunity," he said.

Speaking of the current review of boundaries and feeder patterns, Settles said he hoped that the new system would preserve at least some out-of-bounds seats at higher-performing schools. "But the reality is," he said, "there's going to be a lot of kids now who've had access to a quality seat that don't. And the reality is we haven't created enough quality seats across the city."

He advocated having "magnet and specialty programs in each of the schools, so that we have some incentive for parents to keep their high-performing kid in the neighborhood."

Bennett-Fleming agreed that the fundamental problem is a lack of high-quality schools across the District. "Increasingly, we cannot sustain a system that's built around 20 or 30 good schools and the overwhelming majority of schools not being functional," he said.

He said that he was in favor of a proposal to funnel additional money to schools that have more poor and at-risk students.

Asked whether the role of high-performing charters such as KIPP DC should be expanded, all 3 candidates expressed caution. Rubio advocated borrowing methods used by successful charters, such as an extended school day, and incorporating them into DCPS schools.

Settles echoed that, saying that charters should be "centers of innovation." He advocated increased collaboration between DCPS and charters, and said that as a founding parent of Inspired Teaching Demonstration charter school he was in a good position to help bring the sectors together.

Bennett-Fleming said that he doubted there were enough high-performing charters to fill the need and mentioned failed experiments with bringing in charter operators at Anacostia and Dunbar high schools. But he also said, "I think we should be replicating KIPP, we should be allowing KIPP to have as much of an impact on the city as it would like."

To watch the interviews in their entirety, click on the videos below.




We conducted the interviews at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw library and the Gibson Plaza apartments, a mixed-income market rate and affordable housing building also in the Shaw neighborhood. Thanks to Martin Moulton for organizing the space and recording and editing the videos.


At-large candidates condemn high transit fares

We interviewed candidates for DC mayor and competitive council races for the April 1 primary, and recorded the conversations on video. We will be posting the videos for each subject area and each race over a few weeks. Here are the discussions about housing with candidates for DC Council at-large. See all of the discussions here.

Left to right: John Settles, Nate Bennett-Fleming, Pedro Rubio. Images from the candidate websites.

In our discussion about transportation, both Nate Bennett-Fleming and John Settles spoke about how lower-income residents find fares on the bus and train, or fees for car sharing and other transportation options, to be a significant barrier to getting to jobs and making a good living.

Settles said:

If you try to go from far Southeast to upper Northwest, the time and the cost is prohibitive. A lot of women who graduate from [the workforce development program at the Southeast Children's Fund] get jobs in Northwest. They're paying a bus fare to drop a kid at school, a second bus fare to get to Metro, then a Metro fare to get to their job in Northwest. Cumulatively, they're spending $15-20 a day on transportation, and for someone that makes $10 an hour that's prohibitive. And it doesn't make sense.
Bennett-Fleming pointed to newer technology-based transportation options as one approach to help lower-income residents:
[N]ew things like Lyft and Uber—those are tools that can really be a bang for people that are economically distressed, and that's an option for them, and how can we encourage more people to know about these tools, have awareness about these tools, and actually use them.

Because at the end of the day, the transportation cost in the District of Columbia is a form of regression tax. So many people don't have the resources and they're spending so much of their incomes getting around the city. So we have to make sure we have options to bring the cost of transportation down, make sure people are equipped, even our most vulnerable residents, with the options that they need to get around without fundamentally changing their budgets and ability to afford to live, to put food on their tables, etc.

Bennett-Fleming went on to talk about open government and open data. He cited tools like "Outline" which help residents see the effects of legislative proposals and contact their elected officials.

Settles praised new options like car sharing, but argued that these are not really going to significantly decrease costs for low-income residents:

We have to look at how we expand options. The Circulator has been effective at providing options downtown; we need to expand it east and west. And other multimodal options. A lot of people are driving in from Maryland and Virginia. Why don't we have multimodal transportation hubs so they can park their car, pay us a parking fee, and get on public transportation so we're reducing the cars and the on-street traffic.

For me personally, I can afford the multimodal uses ... [but] for lower income individuals the cost is prohibitive. They can't spend the $10-12 an hour for Zipcar, Enterprise Car Share or car2go. So I think we have to get serious about having better transportation solutions.

Both Settles and Bennett-Fleming seem generally on board with the streetcar program, but have concerns about the way DDOT is planning it as they go, not to mention the many missed deadlines. Rubio said,

I'm glad we have it and I hope that we expand it more throughout the city. It's definitely been a slow process and I'm disappointed with that. We've been waiting forever for the H Street streetcar. And I'd like to expand the streetcar to other neighborhoods.
He specifically cited Ivy City as a place the streetcar could benefit. Rubio also supports dedicated bus lanes: "I've taken the 16th Street bus ... but during rush hour your commute doubles, and I agree that we preserve a lane for just buses, and also for bike riders."

Bennett-Fleming and Settles were generally positive about the idea of bus lanes, but didn't explicitly endorse a 16th Street lane; rather, both called for studies to figure out if it can work.

On the topic of cycling, Bennett-Fleming suggested that to get more people bicycling, rather than adding cycle tracks DC needs to "change the culture" around transportation. He pointed to Berkeley, where he went to school, and where they have more bicycling but fewer miles of cycle tracks. Instead, there is just a strong culture of cycling, he said.

How can that happen? He pointed to driver education programs for young drivers, public information campaigns, and perhaps programs when people renew their licenses.

Watch the whole discussions with each candidate about transportation:





Hear the candidates: At-large on housing

We interviewed candidates for DC mayor and competitive council races for the April 1 primary, and recorded the conversations on video. We will be posting the videos for each subject area and each race over a few weeks. Here are the discussions about housing with candidates for DC Council at-large. See all of the discussions here.

Left to right: John Settles, Nate Bennett-Fleming, Pedro Rubio. Images from the candidate websites.

Many informed, engaged DC voters are still unfamiliar with many of the candidates running for DC Council at-large. It's a citywide race which affects everyone, but isn't as high-profile as the mayor's race nor as local as a ward race. Let's get to know the at-large candidates.

I asked candidates John Settles, Nate Bennett-Fleming, and Pedro Rubio where, and how, DC could build the 41,000-105,000 housing units that projections show we need over 20 years, and meet the needs of residents of all income levels who are having trouble affording places to live that meet their needs.

John Settles

Settles' background is in housing, so it's no surprise that he can talk very knowledgeably about our housing issues. He emphasized the importance of planning ahead, and wants to see the city think about housing affordability for a wide range of people, from our lowest-income residents to the middle class that also feels

We really have a crisis in planning at the city level. I think we are very reactive vs. proactive. We wait until problems become a crisis and then we try to throw money or put band aids on them rather than dealing with holistic solutions. For instance ... if you look right now, the city just had to pay $25 million to buy land for a park in NoMA because the planning wasn't done and we didn't think about the need for a park and green space. And when we started planning NoMA 12-15 years ago that same plot of land was probably $250,000. So we've now wasted 24 million because of lack of planning.

It's the same with housing affordability. We didn't do a good job of land banking. During the downturn properties were very cheap. The city could have been acquiring properties, and those properties could then have been put back on the market for purchase across the spectrum.

One thing I want to highlight: I say "housing affordability"; most people hear "affordable housing." The reason I've changed the definition is by federal standards affordable housing means 80% of Area Median Income or below. But now we have a middle class housing crisis. We have middle class families that can't afford to live in the city. We have young professionals who are paying $1,500 to rent a bedroom with 3 or 4 other individuals.

None of these are sustainable. And what it means is, if we don't quickly address this problem we're going to lose people to the suburbs. And just like we're now seeing surpluses because of increases in the population, we could fall back with decreases in population and not have money to invest in important areas. ...

We have to provide incentives to bring what I call the four S's. To create a livable, walkable neighborhood you have to have Safety (people need to feel safe); you have to have Schools, Services and Shopping. Because if there is nothing to walk to it's really not a livable, walkable neighborhood. But if we can provide incentives to bring those services that will also help to meet the demand.

Nate Bennett-Fleming

Bennett-Fleming would like to see a lot of it go to less developed neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. To the question of whether and how we should build 41,000 units, he said, "I think we have to aim for that mark. It sounds a bit ambitious, but ... I believe low aim, not failure, is the true sin."

Where would we put this? We have to focus on the less dense areas of our city, particularly the areas where I live east of the river. I was born east of the river, and I think this is a place where we could focus on a lot of growth in our less dense areas. Part of the problem we have in DC is we have an artificial cap on our supply demand which is one of the reasons behind the high cost for rent.
What artificial caps, I asked? Bennett-Flaming cited the height limit, but also transitioned to talking about jobs before coming back to the zoning rewrite.
The housing is so market-driven so it's so difficult for the government to completely change the problem, but there are a lot of things we can do with our zoning rewrite to make sure our zoning rewrite is optimal for the level of housing that we have to bring into the city in the coming years to meet the demand, so I'm looking forward to not only participating in the zoning rewrite but also reading the zoning rewrite to make sure it's optimal for the aforementioned.
However, he also is nervous about adding too much growth in existing built-up areas. He said,
In Ward 1, a lot of people are worried about building houses on top of houses. I think that's a good idea in general, but we have to have some limits so that it doesn't go too far. So maybe you can only do that for 1 level of your house or we cap it at 2 levels, to make sure we do maintain the qualities of our neighborhoods, that neighborhoods that are already dense do not ... I think we need to focus on the less dense areas of the city that are the low hanging fruit before we start building houses on top of houses.
Put people in east of the river neighborhoods also are concerned about a lot of development. Wouldn't there be opposition to building in the "less dense areas" of the city? Bennett-Fleming said that his background east of the river and citywide will help him work with people to find solutions. He then pivoted to talk about including arts and encouraging entrepreneurship.

Pedro Rubio

Rubio cited the DC Zoning Update, which he supports, as the best opportunity to add new housing and accommodate more residents. As a Latino, he talked a lot in this segment and other parts of our interview about how to improve conditions for Latinos and immigrant groups, groups which often get lost in the political discourse in a city that's about half-black and half-white.

I love the fact that people want to live in DC. As a native I've always been prideful of DC. ... I try to force people to stay here; I say, "Stay here! Build a family!" ... Yes, DC is growing at a faster rate. The one thing we lack is affordable housing...

The new revisions for the zoning laws offers that possibility, like with ADUs, making housing more affordable for individuals. It helps young parents who are trying to get started and save up for housing. It helps young professionals who are just moving into the city. It helps the working class. It helps Latinos and immigrants.

In the last decade, DC has grown. It's been amazing. Latinos have doubled in size. Asians have grown. Ethiopians have grown. ... A lot of immigrants, when they come to DC, they take low skilled jobs. They work in restaurants. they work in construction. And they manage to live in a city that doesn't really offer affordable units. Having the revisions to the zoning will benefit them a lot more and will benefit a lot of people.

You can get a good idea of the candidates' views from the quotes above, but the fact is that another big difference among these candidates is simply in the way each chooses to talk about issues, their personality and style. It's worth watching at least the first few minutes, if not more, of these interviews to get a personal sense for all three.

What do you think of the at-large candidates and their views on housing?


Get ready for Greater Greater politics coverage

Perhaps you've heard: there is a primary in DC on April 1. Over the next few weeks, Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education will be posting a series of video interviews with the candidates for DC mayor and the DC Council Ward 1, Ward 6, and at-large seats.

Photo by Larry Miller on Flickr.

I spoke with almost all of the candidates over the past 2 weeks, and Martin Moulton recorded the conversation on video. We'll divide it into a series of topical posts for each race, looking at what each candidate for a particular contest said about housing, transportation, education, and more.

As we post each portion, this post will include a link to that segment. Below is the list of races, candidates (arbitrarily, in the order they spoke to me), and topics for posts.

Ward 6 council: Charles Allen, Darrel ThompsonWard 1 council: Jim Graham, Brianne NadeauCouncil at large: John Settles, Nate Bennett-Fleming, Pedro Rubio (and see note below)Mayor: Tommy Wells, Jack Evans, Vincent Gray, Muriel Bowser, Andy Shallal (and see note below)All races:How did we select the candidates to speak to? We polled contributors on which candidates they wanted to hear from, and included anyone that contributors nominated.

Mary Cheh is unopposed for re-election in Ward 3. Kenyan McDuffie's Ward 5 re-election contest appears unlikely to be competitive, and contributors did not feel they needed to hear more about that one. There are no competitive primaries for mayor or council outside of the Democratic Party. Finally, we did not include races for Delegate, Shadow Senator or Shadow Representative, or state party.

Besides the candidates listed here, we reached out to Anita Bonds, Vincent Orange, and Andy Shallal. Shallal was scheduled to speak with me on Thursday, February 13, but the interview was canceled due to the snow and we have not yet been able to reschedule we were subsequently able to talk with him.

Orange returned one voicemail and expressed interest in the interview but never followed up from multiple subsequent attempts to reach him. We never received any response from Bonds to any of our inquiries. We would, however, still be happy to speak to any of these candidates before the relevant interviews go live.

We conducted the interviews at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw library and the Gibson Plaza apartments, a mixed-income market rate and affordable housing building also in the Shaw neighborhood.


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.


Frumin, Settles, Silverman rise to the top on public safety

It's a photo finish for the at-large DC Council candidates' visions for how to address crime. The voting at Let's Choose DC ended in a near-tie between Matt Frumin and John Settles, with Elissa Silverman a very close third.

Results for question 2, on education. Click for full infographic.

DC voters rated the responses of nine candidates to this question:

Chief Lanier and Mayor Gray have made a lot of the drop in homicides, but other crimes—assaults, robberies—remain stubbornly high. How should DC police deal with those challenges, and do you have an opinion on how many officers MPD needs?
Let's Choose DC is presented by Greater Greater Washington, DCist, and PoPville and is open to all DC residents. Nine candidates provided responses. Five are still eligible for the April 23 ballot, while four have either dropped out of the race or did not file petitions by the deadline yesterday.

Mr. Frumin, Mr. Settles, and Ms. Silverman all had over 60% of participating voters rate their responses as persuasive or very persuasive. Mr. Frumin and Mr. Settles were almost perfectly tied; 65.43% of voters gave Mr. Frumin's response a positive rating, while 65.38% did so for Mr. Settles (62.63% did for Ms. Silverman).

Mr. Frumin also barely edged out Mr. Settles in percentage of voters rating his response "very persuasive," 20.2% to 19.9%. Ms. Silverman, meanwhile, got the highest proportion of votes for "very persuasive," 22.1%.

Three other candidates—Anita Bonds, Michael Brown, and Perry Redd—did file petitions to appear on the ballot, but did not give us answers to the crime question.

Mr. Redd has, however, joined in starting with question 3, on education, and you can read his response and those of the other 5 participating candidates still in the race. That includes the answer from Paul Zukerberg, which we did not have when the answers went live on Tuesday because, frankly, I messed up; I accidentally mis-copied and pasted the candidates' email addresses, and never sent Mr. Zukerberg the question.

He kindly rushed an answer to us, so even if you have already voted, please consider reading and rating his answer so we can fairly weigh his answer in the results for that question, which will come out next week.

If you haven't yet voted on the education question, please start voting today! You can vote until midnight Monday, at which point we'll have responses to question 4, on the District's growth.

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