Photo by paurian on Flickr.

Tonight, the Ward 6 Democrats are holding the last candidate forum for the vacant at-large DC Council seat prior to the Democratic State Committee’s selection of an interim appointee.

Based on the committee membership Chairman Kwame Brown announced before the holidays, we can assume that this member will sit on four committees: Public Works and Transportation, Economic Development, Housing and Workforce Development, and Public Services and Consumer Affairs.

Here are some questions I hope the moderators will ask or the candidates will address:

  • Tax breaks: Councilmembers currently have to judge the merit of large numbers of tax abatements, TIFs, and other development incentives for projects. How will you evaluate these, personally? Should they be approved in most cases, or only in rare circumstances? Do you think the Council needs to pass a law to get more information before making these decisions, and if so, what information would you want to have to make these decisions?
  • Public land: When should DC sell public land to a developer to accommodate new residents and jobs, and when should the government keep the land for future needs like schools and parks?
  • Metro: If Metro faces further budget crises, do you think DC should find more money in its budget to support our transit service? Or should Metro cut bus and train service, possibly including late-night service? Or should fares go even higher than they have?
  • Bicycling: “Bike lanes” turned into a symbol for controversial Fenty administration policies, but they are also coinciding with a dramatic increase in the numbers of people traveling by bicycle. How would you like to see DC ensure that streets are safe and comfortable for all users including cyclists as well as pedestrians, transit riders and drivers?
  • Affordable housing: Is the current inclusionary zoning rule sufficient to ensure a mix of housing price points, or does DC need to do more? What other policies should DC be pursuing?
  • The bag fee: At the last forum, some candidates derided the 5¢ carryout bag fee. Specifically, do you support or oppose the bag fee as currently enacted into law?
  • Tax increases: The Council will be considering a tax increase, likely on upper-income earners in DC, for the FY2012 budget. Would you support a tax increase along with spending cuts, and if so, how broadly or narrowly should it apply?
  • In general: What is one vote of the DC Council in the past year where you would have come out on the opposite side from the majority (i.e. you would have voted against something that passed, or for something that failed)?


What else do we need to know from these candidates, and more importantly, from all those who will be running in the special election for April 26?

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Surface Transit. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions here are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.