With one week left until the general election, this is our final election links roundup. This week, Michael Bekesha's campaign to win over skeptical Democratic voters hit a snag, the Washington Post editorial board backs Bowser against her Council adversaries, and candidates around the region make their final pitches to voters. Now get out there and vote for urbanists!
Not that kind of Republican
Michael Bekesha's efforts to win over Ward 6 Democrats were compromised this week by his day job at Judicial Watch, a “conservative advocacy” organization that has a penchant for pushing conspiracy theories, from “ISIS training camps in Mexico” to Vince Foster. Just hours after a white supremacist murdered 11 people in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Fox Business aired a segment in which Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell demonized migrants and ranted about the “caravan” and its connection to the “Soros-occupied State Department.” Fox News subsequently banned Farrell, but Bekesha couldn't bring himself to denounce his colleague. Bekesha is the kind of Republican that finds Trump embarassing in polite company—but he's also the kind of Republican that is “proud of” his continued work for an organization that eagerly supplies Trump with some of his most alarming conspiracy theories and whips up fear and panic at the expense of the vulnerable. We have been reminded this week that such fearmongering has real consequences. [Rob Brunner / Washingtonian]
The Post editorial board is all in on Bowser
In a somewhat surprising move, the Washington Post Editorial Board endorsed independent Petar Dimtchev over Democratic incumbent Mary Cheh for DC Council in Ward 3. The Post is unhappy with Cheh’s efforts to “undermine mayoral control of education.” Cheh's offending idea is to reform the DC Office of the Superintendent of Education to function as an independent oversight watchdog over DC Public Schools. Cheh and Dimtchev met for a recent candidate’s forum where they discussed education in Ward 3 and the District as a whole, Initiative 77, and the failure of the Department of General Services to maintain soccer/football fields in the Ward. [Lilah Burke / DC Line]
Reeder v. Silverman or Silverman v. Bowser?
The Post also endorsed Dionne Reeder against incumbent Elissa Silverman in the race for the second open at-large DC Council seat. This race has become the marquee race of the general election in DC. Some see the race as something of a referendum on the mayor given Bowser’s robust efforts to unseat Silverman. Both Reeder and Silverman, however, insist that voters should filter out the noise and focus on their policy disagreements. Most prominently, the two candidates differ on Initiative 77 (which may be back from the dead) and DC’s new paid leave program. Reeder says she’s for paid leave, but is unhappy with how it is funded. She has not, however, followed through on promises to release her own plan. Reeder also came out against Initiative 77 after consulting with her employees at her restaurant. Silverman was the architect of DC’s paid leave program and believes that its funding mechanism was the best politically viable option available. Silverman also fought for the DC Council to respect the will of DC voters on Initiative 77. [Neal Augenstein / WTOP]
Fighting for homeless services in Ward 7 and beyond
Jewel Stroman is running for ANC in Ward 7. Stroman is an advocate for those experiencing homelessness and has helped dozens of families navigate the complex system of homeless services in DC. Stroman herself has relied on this complex system and she hopes to use the ANC seat to elevate her advocacy and to push for greater investments in—and more importantly a clearer vision for—providing stable, affordable housing to those most in need. [Morgan Baskin / City Paper]
Maryland’s choice: highway expansions or public transportation?
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has a $9 billion plan that caused AAA Mid-Atlantic to “rejoice.” Hogan hopes to add four lanes each to I-270, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and the Capital Beltway in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. For all the talk of Hogan as a moderate, that is a whole lot of money to sink into auto-oriented infrastructure at a time where we need to reduce our reliance on cars as fast as possible if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. The Jealous camp warns that Hogan’s investments would just lead to more traffic and promised that Jealous would instead invest in transit. [Bruce DePuyt / Maryland Matters]
Musical chairs in Alexandria
Six Democrats, two Republicans, and one independent are vying for six open seats on Alexandria’s city council. Only two incumbents are running for council. Candidates across the political spectrum promise to somehow ensure more housing affordability, invest in basic infrastructure, and be more responsive to resident input. One clear exception is Republican Michael Clinkscale, a free market absolutist who promises to dismantle public services. [Patricia Sullivan / Post]
“Urgent” needs in urbanizing Arlington
Similar to the race to the south, the candidates for Arlington County Board frequently deploy similar soundbites. Both candidates insist that Arlington needs to attract new businesses, better support affordable housing, and find more money for schools. Democratic candidate Matt de Ferranti is more bullish on the prospect of Amazon HQ2 in Arlington, whereas independent incumbent John Vihstadt worries that HQ2 will add to congestion and spike housing prices. De Ferranti further argues that substantial infrastructure investments are urgently needed from the county government, whereas Vihstadt rose to power in Arlington by promising to slash what he considered to be wasteful public transportation initiatives. To his credit, Vihstadt wants to ease parking requirements and make it easier for owners of older duplexes to add units. [Patricia Sullivan / Post]
Comstock as a “vehicle” to protest Trump
Barbara Comstock is the DC region’s only Republican representative in Congress. She won reelection in 2016, despite heavy support for Clinton in her district. As such, she has worked hard to distance herself from Trump as the election nears. Unfortunately for Comstock, one of the only ways for the Democrats of VA-10 to communicate their deep distaste for the President is to vote her out of office. [Elly Yu /WAMU]