Photo by League of Women Voters of California LWVC on Flickr.

Tuesday, November 8 is Election Day, and most area jurisdictions have early voting which has already begun. Here are our endorsements for some key races on your ballot.

We recommend area voters choose:

  • Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine for President
  • David Grosso and Robert White for DC Council at large
  • Mary Lord for DC State Board of Education
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton for DC Delegate
  • DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission: Read our endorsements here
  • For DC’s statehood referendum
  • LuAnn Bennett and Don Beyer for Congress in Virginia
  • John Delaney and Jamie Raskin for Congress in Maryland
  • For the Prince George’s at-large council seat proposal
  • Against Montgomery County term limits

Below is our rationale for all endorsements in races other than Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. You can read our detailed reasons for our ANC endorsements by choosing your ward from this page.

President and Vice President of the United States

We know, the whole nation was waiting with bated breath to find out what Greater Greater Washington thinks about the presidential race. Your long suspense is over: after some very contentious balloting, our contributors unanimously recommended voting for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. We figured we’d start this post off with a shocker.

Seriously, whether you’re Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, pro-urbanism or anti, for goodness’ sake, vote for Hillary Clinton. As one contributor put it, “because it’s the only choice to keep our national government from slipping into utter chaos.” Clinton is, they said, “most likely to continue the Obama Administration’s urban policies and really enhance his domestic policy legacy.”

Anyway, you probably want to get on to the local races where our endorsement is more likely to sway you. Fair enough!

David Grosso (left) and Robert White (right). Images from the candidates’ websites.

DC Council at large

Each November in even years, voters pick two at-large members of the DC Council, but the law limits the number of Democrats (or members of any other party) who can be on the ballot simultaneously. The Democratic nominee is Robert White, whom we endorsed in the June primary against Vincent Orange. Also running as a technically-not-a-Democrat is incumbent David Grosso, and both deserve your vote (if you vote in DC).

One contributor, who lives east of the Anacostia, said of White: “Robert White is appealing for a person East of the River, as he has articulated a policy for preserving affordable housing, but also pairing such efforts with economic development. Typically we get one but not the other. His proposal to increase density along major corridors also has the beneficial effect of encouraging improvements in mass transit.”

As for Grosso, he has been a progressive champion on many issues and a strong fighter for better education in DC as head of its education committee for the last two years. He is one of the council’s best members and we look forward to the next four years on the council with Grosso and White.

State Board of Education

Voters also choose members of the State Board of Education. Incumbent Mary Lord is running against two challengers, and we encourage voters to return her to the board. While we don’t talk about the SBOE much on Greater Greater Washington (want to write about it? Get in touch) and one contributor said, “I’m pretty sure I keep forgetting this group exists until election time,” the board sets important education priorities.

Our contributors said that Lord “has the experience and knowledge” to serve effectively on the board, and others noted that respected ANC commissioners and neighborhood groups are supporting her.

There are also races for council ward seats (not expected to be competitive) and some State Board of Education seats (some possibly competitive) in wards 7 and 8 (and uncontested ones in 2 and 4). We did not have enough contributor consensus to make endorsements in the contested races.

Photo by Michelle Kinsey Bruns on Flickr.

DC Statehood

DC voters will weigh in on an advisory ballot referendum about statehood. Our contributors who filled out our survey universally agreed DC deserves statehood, and even if some didn’t agree with every detail of the proposed constitution or process, they felt it sends an important message for voters to ratify this by large margins.

One contributor, who didn’t support the process, said, “I think there are a lot of issues with how residents will be represented in the constitution developed (ANCs stay with similar power, bigger council). If we really want statehood, we need to put forward a more serious, thoughtful constitution before taking this further, or else no one else will take it seriously.”

But others, while agreeing in part, suggested a yes vote: “Its not perfect, but we goddamn deserve to be a state,” one wrote. Another: “It’s not perfect, but it’s still worth supporting.”

And: “Any vote against this will be used as a cudgel by those opposed to statehood for a generation.” This referendum is not even binding on the DC Council, let alone Congress which has to act to make DC a state. So the vote really is symbolic, but for an important symbol. Please vote yes on DC Advisory Referendum B.

Delegate to Congress

Speaking of DC’s non-representation in Congress, our contributors support re-electing Eleanor Holmes Norton as DC’s nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives (but support changing that to a voting representative, of course).

While we haven’t always agreed with all she’s done, contributors said “she has years of experience working across the aisle in Congress and bringing home much needed funds for DC transportation projects; she has proven herself a partner and ally to my community;” and called her “a long-time fighter for social justice.”

LuAnn Bennett on a sidewalk. Image from the candidate’s website.

Congress in Maryland and Virginia

If you live outside the District and are a US voter, you can cast a ballot for a voting member of Congress. By far the most hotly contested race in our area is in Virginia’s 10th district, between incumbent Barbara Comstock and challenger LuAnn Bennett. The district contains parts of Fairfax and Prince William counties as well as all of Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick counties, plus the cities of Manassas Park, Manassas, and Winchester.

Comstock, the Republican, is portraying herself as a moderate, but as one contributor noted, she “is much more conservative that most people realize, for example a 3% environmental vote score.” But even more critically for Greater Greater Washington, she has been unhelpful on issues about WMATA and transit funding.

Further, one contributor noted, “she’s shown that she is not very friendly to legislation that would protect cyclists and she also signed legislation that prioritized driving over public transit infrastructure. Knowing her record indicates to me that the 10th district should have a candidate who wants to work with others to promote smart growth, which LuAnn Bennett has made one of her campaign issues.”

Just over the Potomac, Maryland’s 6th district streches from Montgomery County to western Maryland. Incumbent John Delaney (D) faces Amie Hoeber (R). Our contributors are not huge fans of Delaney, noting that he “is a captive of the highway lobby” and “is determined to widen I-270.” However, they said, “his opponent is even worse” and “Amie Hoeber wants to basically widen everything.” We encourage voters to return Delaney to office despite his flaws.

In less competitive Congressional races, contributors also had glowing things to say about Don Beyer in VA-8, who “has made smart growth and transit part of his campaign. He’s promoted clean energy and public transit, including BRT in Fairfax County.”

They also recommended Jamie Raskin, who won a 3-way primary for the open seat in Maryland’s 8th district. “Jamie Raskin should easily win but he has been a progressive champion in Annapolis and deserves to be recognized,” one wrote. And “Jamie Raskin has been great on Purple Line for many years despite opposition.” Raskin has sometimes sided with residents opposed to any new housing in their areas, like on the Takoma Metro station development, but as a member of Congress he would be even more removed from this day-to-day NIMBYism and his record on other issues is very strong.

Images from the campaigns for No On B (Montgomery County term limits) and Re-Charge At Large (Prince George’s Question D).

Montgomery County term limits

Montgomery and Prince George’s voters will decide whether to change some of the mechanics of their counties’ systems with ballot initiatives on November 8.

In Montgomery County, the main question is whether to impose a 3-term limit on county executive and all county council seats. Our contributors who answered the survey unanimously recommend no on Question B. Here’s some of what they said:

  • Term limits shift the balance of power away from democratically elected officials and into unelected entities forces like interest groups and agencies.
  • Depriving the Council of experienced members is likely to lead to a Council with a short-term outlook that aims to split the difference between nimby homeowners and real-estate developers, at the expense of county residents who need housing.
  • Honestly, I’m really frustrated with the councilmembers in place today and would like to see them change, but I’m not convinced that term limits will guarantee the change I seek.
  • Term limits remove choices from the voters, and in this case is just a trojan horse for creating several open seats for wealthier residents to buy their way onto the Council.

One particularly nasty part of the term limits proposal would count a full term against anyone who served even a single year (or a day) of a partial term. That would force out Nancy Navarro, who won a special election in 2009 and then her first full term in 2010.

The county council has put Question C on the ballot to change this so that a partial term only counts if it’s two years or more, the same as the 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution for Presidental term limits. While we hope voters reject term limits entirely, voters should vote yes on Question C to make the law fairer if it does pass.

Prince George’s at large

In Montgomery, DC, and other jurisdictions, there are at-large councilmembers alongside ward members. This means everyone still has one person representing his or her area, but also some people who take the larger view. This system works well, and Prince George’s could adopt some of it with an initiative to add two at-large members to its currently nine-member council.

Our contributors suggest approving this idea with a vote of yes on Question D. One said, “I live in a city now without any at-large representation. It’s awful. You need some politicians who can focus on the governance of the municipality as a whole, instead of just parochial issues in their own district.” Another felt at-large seats are “essential to end the pattern of individual councilmember vetoes over building in their districts, which empowers NIMBYs and promotes corruption.”

One controversial element of this proposal would let members who are term limited as ward members then move up to at-large. Tracy Loh and Matt Johnson discussed this, and other facets of the proposal, in an earlier post.

We hope voters approve Question D and make the Prince George’s council more effective.