D.C. mayoral candidates address the Ward 7 Democrats at a mayoral candidates forum on March 5 at St. Lukes Catholic Church in Southeast. (Abdullah Konte/The Washington Informer)

Six of the candidates registered for the June 21 Democratic primary appeared before hundreds of residents and virtually at the Ward 7 Democrats mayoral forum on March 5, expressing their views on issues affecting the ward and the city.

The forum, held at the St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Southeast, featured D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Councilmembers Robert White (D-At Large) and Trayon White (D-Ward 8) and political activists James Butler, Andre Davis and Leland Andre Core. Former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown served as the moderator. 

(L-R) Leland Core, former DC Council Chair Kwame Brown, Andre Davis, Mayor Muriel Bowser, James Butler, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, At-Large Councilmember Robert White stand for a photo-op during the Ward 7 Mayoral Candidates forum on March 5 at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Southeast.  (Abdullah Konte/The Washington Informer) 

The mayoral debate served as the second of two candidates’ forums held over two recent Saturdays. On Feb. 26, the candidates for the Democratic at-large seat and council chairman debated. Before the mayoral forum, the D.C. attorney general hopefuls verbally sparred.

“This is the first hybrid mayoral candidate forum in the city,” said Wendell Felder, chairman of the Ward 7 Democrats, on March 5. “It is important that the candidates know what our priorities are and what they need to do if they hope to get elected to office.”

During the debate, affordable housing and public safety emerged as the primary issues for candidates.    

Tiffany L. Brown, the advisory neighborhood commissioner for district 7B02, said there should have been a more robust discussion about mayoral control of schools. 

D.C.’s public schools have been under the control of the mayor since 2007. But some residents want the educational system to revert back to being managed by an elected school board. Presently, an elected board of education consists of at-large and ward members serving primarily in an advisory capacity to the mayoral administration.

Brown also said the candidates should have addressed how they plan to put more funds into Ward 7 schools.

“We hear all of this talk about funding or defunding the police but we don’t hear enough about funding our schools,” Brown said. “The money that is allocated to our schools doesn’t seem to be trickling down. We need city leaders to invest in education.”

Meanwhile, Ward 7 advisory neighborhood commission chairman Tyrell M. Holcomb said the candidates should have discussed the ward’s health care needs. 

“Councilmember Gray has worked hard on improving the health care system in the city and especially in Wards 7 and 8,” said Holcomb, who represents single-member district 7F01. 

“They needed to talk about health care. Many ward residents have health care challenges and while the new hospital at St. Elizabeths East will help people who live east of the river, the candidates should have explained how health care challenges can be dealt with in a more holistic manner and how to access health centers more easily,” Holcomb said. 

Villareal Johnson, a longtime activist in Ward 7, noted other issues that he felt should have been addressed.

“Traffic has become a concern in the ward,” Johnson said. “The candidates should have talked about dealing with traffic from a Ward 7 perspective. How will they help residents deal with the growing traffic in this area? We don’t have as many transportation options as other wards have that have more Metro stations and bus lines than we do.”

Johnson pointed to his concern about education in the ward, like Brown, but on a different topic. He feels there should be another middle school built near the Hillcrest neighborhood in Southeast.

“I like that Mayor Bowser mentioned that she is interested in rebuilding Winston Educational Campus into a feeder school for the four elementary schools in the neighborhood,” Johnson said.

Felder added that the candidates could have talked more about mental health.

“We had an episode of a woman who came to our forum who obviously had mental health challenges,” he said, speaking of a person who loudly interrupted the candidates while they spoke and left the room throwing dozens of pieces of literature on the floor. “There are a lot of people who need help in the ward and the candidates should have mentioned what they will do about mental health.”

@JamesWrightJr10

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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3 Comments

  1. The Ward 7 Forum was very interesting and most informative. I look forward to many more from Wards 7 & 8.

  2. I am asking you to please distribute this notice to your friends and neighbors they need to know about this atrocity. Taxpayers need protection against inflation, the rising price of gasoline, food and from those who are willing to take advantage of them. Thank you. Chg.

    Dear Taxpayer: below is a land valuation analysis of a sample group of single family homes and row houses in the District of Columbia. The land value amount is divided by the lot size figure to get the Price Per Square Feet for each group of homes.

    The auditor’s worksheet analysis brings to light – that the D.C. Government implements a “back-door approach” to configure land values which are hand-tailored to always appropriate a HIGHER PRICE PER SQUARE FEET FOR properties that have a small lot size. The District’s policy to overtax homes with smaller size land lots is unjust and a wrongfully inflicted penalty on the undeserving taxpayer.

    Soon, the District’s 2023 Notice of Proposed Property Assessment letter will arrive to your home. This will activate the opportunity to initiate the First Level Administrative Review process for your appraiser to “openly” discuss:

    a) the omission of land analysis and land comparable rating from the Proposed Property Assessment Notice letter.

    b) What is the Base Land Rate for the five block area use in making your property’s analysis and comparability studies?

    c) Why is the Base Land Rate was not reported in the Proposed Property Assessment Notice letter?

    d) Why is your smaller property lot’s “price per square feet” much more than another property’s larger land lot “price per square feet?”

    e) Request a copy of your D.C. Appraiser’s property appraisal inspection of your property and LAND.

    Or, just take your property’s wrongfully, over-valued land assessment billing notice to D.C. elected officials and asked them to confess, correct and indemnify their overtaxing taxpayers who have smaller size land lots.

    Calvin H. Gurley

    Let’s live well and enjoy our City, together.

  3. I would like to clarify a position in reference to Winston and the Mayor. I was happy to hear the question about Winston asked. I was also glad to hear that the Mayor heard the community regrading Winston. The budget priority gives Winston some attention and some relief for the community. The commitment to tear the building down, is a response. I am not sure if its the right response. Through HCCA, residents and interested stakeholders will ensure that the new use will meet the needs of the communities South of Mass Ave. The growth of young families with young children in the community is a sign that investment in Ward 7 Education, i.e. another middle school with direct feeder patterns that ensure children and parents can access DCPS school without driving, severely and urgently needed.

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