Sekou Biddle is emerging as one of two frontrunners for the DC Democratic State Committee’s nod to fill Kwame Brown’s at-large Council seat. Advocates for livable streets and neighborhoods should hope that the committee chooses Biddle tomorrow night, as he would be the best interim Councilmember among those being considered.
I met with Biddle in December, and found him to be a very intelligent and thoughtful person with a strong grasp of issues.
He often rides the bus from his home in Shepherd Park to his job at an education nonprofit downtown, and has recently also started making the trip by bicycle on a regular basis. At Monday’s Ward 6 Democrats forum, he called the S9 bus a vital link whose service should be preserved.
Biddle told me how, when he goes to his organization’s headquarters in Atlanta, he rides MARTA and uses Zipcar instead of renting a car at the airport. Since their offices are near a MARTA station and there are Zipcars in the parking lot, he can readily navigate the city without having his own car.
He expressed a desire for more residents on Georgia Avenue to support the kind of retail he and his family want to be able to walk to. He fully understood the dynamic where development is necessary to attract retail.
He unequivocally supports marriage equality, while many advocates are very nervous about Vincent Orange’s often-shifting position on LGBT rights issues.
We also had a long discussion about education reform. Biddle agrees with the basic thesis of Waiting for Superman, that we need to look to the charter schools that work by replicating them and/or importing their practices into DCPS schools.
As an educator, Biddle has a lot of detailed knowledge of education policy. In other areas, like any new candidate, he has some opportunities to learn the nuances of many other policy areas, though at the very least he has a lot more specifics than any of the others.
For example, on Monday, he seemed supportive of cycle tracks (like on 15th) but some reported being nervous about his comments about bicycling on other roads. He also said that his supporters should choose Stanley Mayes as their second choice, just minutes after Mayes gave some very driver-centric answers to the transportation question.
The rest of us don’t get to vote until April, and I’d like to see who else runs before coming out in support of anyone for that race. Occasional contributor Dave Stroup, for example, has called for drafting Bryan Weaver, who ran unsuccessfully against Jim Graham in the 2010 Democratic primary. In his mass email last night, Stroup wrote,
This isn’t so much about whether you would vote for Bryan or not, it’s about bringing a fresh, independent voice to this election. This isn’t a statement about the quality of the current candidates. ... I think his entry to the race could shake things up, and get more people talking, and get more people out to vote.
It wouldn’t be bad to have a healthy debate among several good candidates for the final race. But whomever the DCDSC picks tomorrow will have a large advantage in the final race, and would cast votes on the budget and important legislation in the meantime.
The DCDSC should demonstrate that they aren’t just an elite club of out-of-touch insiders who nominate the person whose “turn” it is instead of thinking about who’s best for DC. On that score, I agree with the Young Democrats, Ward 6 Dems, Kwame Brown, five other Councilmembers and top Vince Gray advisors: on tomorrow’s ballot, Sekou Biddle is the right pick.