Welcome to our live chat with Patrick Mara, a DC-style Republican and candidate for the at-large Council seat in the special election April 26th.

 Live chat with Patrick Mara(02/02/2011) 
12:57
David Alpert: 
Welcome to our live chat. Pat Mara will be with us in just a few minutes.
Wednesday February 2, 2011 12:57 David Alpert
12:57
David Alpert: 
In the meantime, please submit your questions. We’ll try to ask as many as we can, and questions entered early have an advantage!
Wednesday February 2, 2011 12:57 David Alpert
1:03
David Alpert: 
Pat has now joined us. Welcome!
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:03 David Alpert
1:04
Patrick Mara: 
Thanks David! Hello everyone. I’m looking forward to this. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:04 Patrick Mara
1:04
David Alpert: 
A number of people are curious about your membership in the Republican Party, given that it’s relatively rare in DC. Why are you a Republican, and on the flip side, how are your views different than the typical Congressional Republican?
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:04 David Alpert
1:06
Patrick Mara: 
I’m the first Republican in my family, so I did not become a Republican because of my parents or a relative.

Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:06 Patrick Mara
1:06
Patrick Mara: 
Rhode Island is overwehlmingly Democratic. Of course DC is 75% registered Dem.

Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:06 Patrick Mara
1:07
Patrick Mara: 
I realized at a young age the benefits of divided government. Rhode Island only had six GOP members of the state legislature. This caused a serious case of group think. It is often compared to Louisianna in terms of corruption and transparency. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:07 Patrick Mara
1:09
Patrick Mara: 
I also prefer to incentivize good behavior rather than penalize. For example, I prefer tax credits to tax increases. Take the solar program that’s really taken off in Mt. Pleasant and other areas. I’d rather encourage good behavior. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:09 Patrick Mara
1:09
Patrick Mara: 
I’m also a big believer in Federalism. So, when I go up to the Hill to tell Republicans to leave us alone, it actually means something. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:09 Patrick Mara
1:10
Patrick Mara: 
I got my start in DC working for Senator Chafee on the Environment and Public Works Committee. I’m a fiscally responsible, socially progressive Republican. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:10 Patrick Mara
1:11
Patrick Mara: 
DC is a very unique place to live and the people of DC should be able to govern themselves the way they see fit. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:11 Patrick Mara
1:12
Patrick Mara: 
For example, I’m a big supporter of Marriage Equality for District residents. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:12 Patrick Mara
1:13
Patrick Mara: 
I will always do what is in the best interest of the people of DC. I believe Marriage Equality is in the best interest of all District residents. In 2009 there were two days of hearings on Marriage Equality. Over 200 people testified either for or against.
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:13 Patrick Mara
1:13
Patrick Mara: 
I testified before the DC Council as an unequivocal supporter of marriage equality in the District. Oddly, and I checked, not one of my 15+ opponents took the time to testify. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:13 Patrick Mara
1:14
Patrick Mara: 
Going back a year, I came out in favor of marriage equality in a Republican primary against Mrs. Schwartz who was on record as saying she would not vote for it. Honestly, it was a pretty big risk, but I prevailed. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:14 Patrick Mara
1:14
Patrick Mara: 
Most importantly, last year I met with over a dozen Republican Members of Congress and Senators with a basic message: Leave us alone. I did this as a citizen, not as an elected official. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:14 Patrick Mara
1:15
Patrick Mara: 
I met with the most conservative to the most progressive Republicans. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:15 Patrick Mara
1:16
David Alpert: 
Speaking of that topic, Jeff was interested in the possibility of a local Republican dealing with Congressional Republicans:
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:16 David Alpert
1:16
[Comment From JeffJeff: ] 
Do you think having a Republican back on the DC Council could stave off some of the attacks against Home Rule that we are now facing from Republican members of Congress? If elected, local Republicans would certainly have more clout. What can DC residents expect from the local party chapter in defensive of our sovereignty?
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:16 Jeff
1:17
Patrick Mara: 
Great question Jeff. As I mentioned, I’m the only one who has been meeting with Republicans. We simply do not engage Republicans on the Hill. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:17 Patrick Mara
1:17
Patrick Mara: 
If I am an elected member of the Council, I will engage Republican members of Congress like we’ve never engaged them before. Our local strategy is reactionary. We engage Republicans it seems only when something goes wrong. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:17 Patrick Mara
1:18
Patrick Mara: 
As an elected member of the DC Council, I will commit to meet with, on average, one Republican member of congress or Senator each week for the remainder of my term. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:18 Patrick Mara
1:18
Patrick Mara: 
That is a minimum of 86 GOP members by the end of 2012. Think about it. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:18 Patrick Mara
1:19
Patrick Mara: 
Right now nobody can show me a spreadsheet that depicts where each GOP member of Congress/Senator stands on just about any of our local issues. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:19 Patrick Mara
1:20
Patrick Mara: 
Where does each member stand on Statehood, full representation, a vote in the House, amendment to the constitution, retrocession, territorial status or modifying our federal tax status? Autonomy? Nobody knows. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:20 Patrick Mara
1:20
Patrick Mara: 
We haven’t asked many of them. Further, we need to ask for GAO studies on each of these areas. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:20 Patrick Mara
1:21
Patrick Mara: 
Credible intellectual ammunition from the GAO goes a long way with members and Senators.

Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:21 Patrick Mara
1:22
Patrick Mara: 
Some would argue, why are we asking for studies on an action we might not want? Well, we need to know the arguments for and against each option. If we don’t want retrocession, what happens if GAO prepares a report tomorrow - at the request of a member - and we remain unprepared? 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:22 Patrick Mara
1:22
Patrick Mara: 
So, let’s get ourselves some credible intellectual ammunition and, if elected,  I will meet with at least 86 GOP members and produce transparent results as to where at least 86 Republicans stand on our local issues. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:22 Patrick Mara
1:23
Patrick Mara: 
We definitely need to do more than make great speeches.  The Federalism argument and engagement will put us in a far better position than where we are in today. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:23 Patrick Mara
1:27
David Alpert: 
Thanks. Let’s talk about a few other issues. First, Martin asked Sekou Biddle, your former colleague on the State Board of Education, about “the IMPACT teacher assessment tool ... Good, bad, worth keeping, worth improving upon?” What do you think?
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:27 David Alpert
1:28
Patrick Mara: 
IMPACT is a cornerstone of the Rhee Legacy. I’m concerned with any talk of rolling back IMPACT. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:28 Patrick Mara
1:28
Patrick Mara: 
Where we need to improve IMPACT primarily lies with professional development and how we provide teachers with structured plans for improvement. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:28 Patrick Mara
1:29
Patrick Mara: 
I’ve spoken with hundreds of teachers about IMPACT in a very concentrated period of time and the greatest concerns among teachers lie with those who are deemed “Minimally Effective” and “Effective.” 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:29 Patrick Mara
1:30
Patrick Mara: 
Let me step back. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:30 Patrick Mara
1:30
Patrick Mara: 
IMPACT breaks teachers down into four categories: Highly Effective, Effective, Minimally Effective and Ineffective. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:30 Patrick Mara
1:31
Patrick Mara: 
HE’s are granted $3K to $25K bonuses. IE’s are asked to leave, but can be hired at other schools.
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:31 Patrick Mara
1:31
Patrick Mara: 
Most teachers and all principals I’ve spoken with will tell you that IE’s should be asked to leave. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:31 Patrick Mara
1:32
Patrick Mara: 
Studies have shown that two years in a row of a bad teacher is a very bad thing. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:32 Patrick Mara
1:34
Patrick Mara: 
You will be truant, you will drop out, you will get pregnant, you will go to jail. Each or all of those is more likely to happen to a student if they have two years of bad teaching. Ineffectives (IE’s): we don’t need. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:34 Patrick Mara
1:35
Patrick Mara: 
We must remove bad teachers. The greatest concern for teachers should lie in the three other categories. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:35 Patrick Mara
1:35
Patrick Mara: 
Right now it is clear that teachers need more direction as to how they can improve their performance. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:35 Patrick Mara
1:36
Patrick Mara: 
We need to figure out how principals or another administrator can provide teachers with structured plans for improvement. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:36 Patrick Mara
1:37
Patrick Mara: 
You can’t do better if nobody tells you what they are looking for.

Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:37 Patrick Mara
1:37
Patrick Mara: 
Master Educators and Principals do this, but teachers need a better plan and help with improving. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:37 Patrick Mara
1:38
Patrick Mara: 
Certainly, professional development is another area DCPS can improve on as well.
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:38 Patrick Mara
1:39
Patrick Mara: 
As DCPS gets better, PD will likely need to be among the most entrepreneurial segments of the DCPS central office. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:39 Patrick Mara
1:39
Patrick Mara: 
This is one of the many areas where good data is obviously important. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:39 Patrick Mara
1:42
[Comment From EricEric: ] 
Is DC economically competitive with surrounding jurisdictions? If not, what would you do to change that?
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:42 Eric
1:44
Patrick Mara: 
No we are not. For starters, most indexes and small business comparisons put us below or way below Maryland and Virginia. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:44 Patrick Mara
1:45
Patrick Mara: 
Obviously, we can loop much of this back to education. We need more workforce development programs like the ones I see at Carlos Rosario Public Charter School. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:45 Patrick Mara
1:46
Patrick Mara: 
Carlos Rosario worked with the employer community to determine necessary skill sets in the next 2, 5 and 10 years. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:46 Patrick Mara
1:47
Patrick Mara: 
They have three workforce development programs: computer technician, culinary and nursing. They have a virtually 100% employment rate. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:47 Patrick Mara
1:48
Patrick Mara: 
I would like to say lots more, but there are several other education pieces. Also, a tax comparison chart of DC with MD and VA is eye opening. We arebeating some folks in real estate and property, but not other areas. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:48 Patrick Mara
1:49
Patrick Mara: 
Everyone here knows, the importance of smart growth too. There are many reasons that I don’t have time to list as to why Tysons is our population center. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:49 Patrick Mara
1:49
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
What’s your position on TANF expiration (ie. Barry’s ‘5-year’ proposal)?
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:49 Guest
1:50
Patrick Mara: 
In DC we create some pretty major dependencies. I look no further than Bill Clinton and Cory Booker for guidance on this. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:50 Patrick Mara
1:51
Patrick Mara: 
Yes, I agree with the expiration. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:51 Patrick Mara
1:52
[Comment From DouglasDouglas: ] 
Are you an advocate for more public transportation in the city and do you personally use mass transit?
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:52 Douglas
1:53
Patrick Mara: 
That was a softball. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:53 Patrick Mara
1:53
Patrick Mara: 
I live on 11th Street between Kenyon and Lamont . There’s been quite a transformation to my Columbia Heights neighborhood over the last seven years.
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:53 Patrick Mara
1:54
Patrick Mara: 
I’ve got the 64 bus right outside my window, the CH metro and circulator a few blocks away, some great bike lanes, Bikeshare at 11th and Kenyon as well as 11th and park, and no car worries. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:54 Patrick Mara
1:54
Patrick Mara: 
I do not own a car, so for me, the work of GGW is a way of life. Other neighborhoods in the city, particularly those with higher population densities,  deserve similar options. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:54 Patrick Mara
1:55
Patrick Mara: 
When something isn’t working in metro, bus, circulator, etc., I feel the pain. I’ve got no other options. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:55 Patrick Mara
1:56
[Comment From BrandonBrandon: ] 
Three questions: What infrastructure investments do you see as the most important in D.C. right now?  What are your views on the contentious Height Act? What are your thoughts on increasing taxes on vacant property owners?
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:56 Brandon
1:56
David Alpert: 
Maybe a quick answer on each of the 3?
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:56 David Alpert
1:56
Patrick Mara: 
OK
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:56 Patrick Mara
1:56
Patrick Mara: 
Speed round
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:56 Patrick Mara
1:56
David Alpert: 
Exactly :)
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:56 David Alpert
1:57
Patrick Mara: 
I support streetcars :)
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:57 Patrick Mara
1:58
Patrick Mara: 
Uncertain on Height Act. I certainly understand the need for increasing population density. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:58 Patrick Mara
1:59
Patrick Mara: 
I lived next to 11 Heroine addicts squating in a vacant property next to me for 2 years. This was a major problem for me and my neighbors. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 1:59 Patrick Mara
2:00
Patrick Mara: 
I will draw a clear line on not raising taxes. Raising any tax condones the reckless spending of the past. Everybody on the Council knew these tough economic times were around the corner but we continued on with bloated budgets. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:00 Patrick Mara
2:00
Patrick Mara: 
I prefer fines.
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:00 Patrick Mara
2:01
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
In your mind, how does DC reconcile the fact that the majority of workers in DC don’t pay taxes to DC, but rather to VA or MD? Or do we just live with it and move on?
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:01 Guest
2:01
Patrick Mara: 
It bothers me. Some of this loops back to our relationship with Congress as well as the Home Rule Charter. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:01 Patrick Mara
2:02
Patrick Mara: 
I do believe we should consider reducing the District Government workforce. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:02 Patrick Mara
2:03
Patrick Mara: 
Also, due to budget constraints - massive budget constraints, everyone making over 100K should take a 10% cut. This includes Council Members and their staffs. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:03 Patrick Mara
2:03
[Comment From David GarberDavid Garber: ] 
What are your feelings on DC Statehood? As long as well keep a federal district around congress, the mall, and the white house, this seems like the most sustainable way to give DC a voice.
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:03 David Garber
2:06
Patrick Mara: 
I support Statehood, but it’s pretty hard to do when two Dem Senators from MD and two Dem Senators from Virginia would oppose us. We need to get serious on engaging Republicans on anything. As I mentioned before, we need to see where we really stand with GOP members. Dems oppose us on Statehood…it never even came up in Mayor Gray’s conversation with President Obama. Let’s see what we can do to actually advance the ball. As I said before, I’ll meet with 86 GOP members that we’ve never even said hi to. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:06 Patrick Mara
2:06
[Comment From JeffJeff: ] 
Besides continuing education reform, what is driving you to enter the race? Where else do you hope to have the biggest impact on our city? What Council Committees do you hope to serve on and why?
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:06 Jeff
2:07
Patrick Mara: 
The three big areas: education reform
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:07 Patrick Mara
2:07
Patrick Mara: 
Fiscal - I will dedicate one staffer to focus solely on spending, taxes and, probably most importantly, transparency. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:07 Patrick Mara
2:09
Patrick Mara: 
The third is: I’m not a member of the club. I never will be. I will be able to buck the tide when needed. I went against the Republican Party previously when I ran against Mrs. Schwartz and in a sense I’m running against the local Democratic Party now. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:09 Patrick Mara
2:09
Patrick Mara: 
No one party should have a monopoly on ideas and solutions. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:09 Patrick Mara
2:10
David Alpert: 
Thanks. One final question about the mechanics of the election:
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:10 David Alpert
2:10
Patrick Mara: 
Washington, DC, has a serious case of group think and it’s not working for us. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:10 Patrick Mara
2:10
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Pat, if you win, you will force the city to hold another special election—at about $250K. How does that fit with your notion of being fiscally conservative?
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:10 Guest
2:10
Patrick Mara: 
This election is a very special circumstance. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:10 Patrick Mara
2:11
Patrick Mara: 
I decided to run for the SBOE in November 2008. I recognized SBOE was my best shot to maximize my abilities to help with one of DC’s two biggest challenges (education).
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:11 Patrick Mara
2:12
Patrick Mara: 
Now I’ve got a laundry list of things I would reduce. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:12 Patrick Mara
2:12
Patrick Mara: 
We cannot go on spending the way we do. I will go well beyond 250K in any reductions I advocate for. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:12 Patrick Mara
2:13
Patrick Mara: 
Further, this never came up in the past. As I mentioned in an email publication, Gray, Fenty and Kwame Brown all created special elections. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:13 Patrick Mara
2:14
Patrick Mara: 
Democracy should not have a price. 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:14 Patrick Mara
2:17
David Alpert: 
We’re over our time, so thanks so much for joining us! There was so much interesting material and many great questions.
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:17 David Alpert
2:18
Patrick Mara: 
Thank you David and everyone at GGW for this opportunity. I hope you consider voting for me on April 26th. If you have additional questions, I can be reached directly at patrick@patrickmara.com. I will have a comprehensive issues overview at www.PatrickMara.com , but am currently in the process of redoing the site.  My phone number is 202-986-3735, but email is best - especially when riding the 64. Thanks again, Patrick
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:18 Patrick Mara
2:19
David Alpert: 
Thanks so much. And you can hear more from Patrick tomorrow evening at the candidate forum, 6:30 pm (doors at 6) at 441 4th Street (One Judiciary Square), room 1107.
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:19 David Alpert
2:20
David Alpert: 
We’ll also have more live chats including one with Joshua Lopez next week. Stay tuned for details.
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:20 David Alpert
2:20
David Alpert: 
Finally, please continue the conversation in the comments. What did you think of Patrick’s opinions? What would you like to know more about? Did this make you more or less likely to vote for him? 
Wednesday February 2, 2011 2:20 David Alpert
2:20
 

 
 
 

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). 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 in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.