Early voting has begun. When you cast your ballot there are many things to consider. By all statistics, the District of Columbia is doing better than ever before. Crime is down; student test scores are up; we are winning awards for the District’s environmental policies and as a new high tech center. The mayor has added more than $1 billion to the reserve fund, the envy of every other state and city. Vincent Gray is the strongest supporter we’ve ever had for the LGBT community and has backed that support with action.
We see tremendous progress in many areas and need to continue that momentum. While some pretend that none of this is the doing of the current mayor, to believe that is to live in a never-never land where all things just happen on their own. Some blame everything that happened in the mayor’s 2010 election on him, though he has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
Still others are willing to give the mayor credit for the progress our city has made. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “Mayor Gray knocked the ball out of the park in terms of improvement” when talking about D.C. schools. The Coalition for Non-Profit Housing said, “We applaud Mayor Gray… His plan makes strong investments in the production and preservation of affordable housing.” Then recently the mayor accomplished what many in politics say is nearly impossible to do: He won the endorsement of nearly all the unions in the District and also the endorsement of the Chamber of Commerce.
I understand the problems facing the mayor and voters especially after the statements that came out in the indictment of Jeffrey Thompson. I know Jeff Thompson and if it comes to believing him or the mayor I still choose to believe the mayor. Jeff did everything he did for personal gain. But for the moment that is something each person will have to settle in their own mind and heart. There are other good and decent candidates in this race; they just don’t have the experience and record of success of the mayor.
For Council chair I urge support for Phil Mendelson. He has proven himself a steadfast supporter of progressive policies and is a stabilizing force on the Council. From his support of LGBT human and civil rights issues to his work to preserve and build affordable housing; from his efforts to make sure the criminal justice system is working fairly to his support of a cleaner environment, Mendelson has stood with and worked diligently for all the people of the District. He deserves our support and to be reelected as chair of the Council.
For Council-at-large I urge support for Anita Bonds. Like many, I was wary when she was first running for office that her connections to old-time politics in the District would not be productive on the Council. But she has impressed many with her hard work and willingness to listen to the community and make decisions based on the facts. She was willing to stand up to one of her first mentors in government when it was called for and make a stand for ethical government. Her work on issues such as raising the minimum wage, helping seniors to remain in the District and in their homes, and her support for forward-looking environmental policies make her deserving of reelection.
The District of Columbia is changing and growing. There are some good people who have been a part of making that happen. There are some politicians who should be turned out of office. But others are still forward looking and effective and should be rewarded with another term. Gray, Mendelson and Bonds are three such politicians. They are moving the District forward and have more to do and the proven ability to do it.
It is my hope that we will see huge numbers of voters come to the polls on April 1 and make their voices heard. That is what democracy is all about. Voting is not only a privilege it is a responsibility.