City Paper Widget

Monday, February 3, 2014

Graham, Nadeau, Weaver at Ward One Candidates Forum

The three candidates for D.C. City Councilmember from Ward One -- incumbent Jim Graham, Brianne Nadeau, and Bryan Weaver -- spoke to prospective voters at a forum on Thursday evening, January 30. It was held in the Good Will Baptist Church (1862 Kalorama Road NW) and sponsored by the Kalorama Citizens Association (KCA).

Topics included education, the future of D.C. United's stadium, and liquor license moratoriums.

Graham late so Weaver speaks

Bryan Weaver at the January 30 forum
The forum sponsors were reluctant to start without Graham, who was 30
minutes late. After some attendees agitated to start without Graham, moderator Dennis James, head of the KCA, announced that Bryan Weaver would be given five minutes to speak before the scheduled main event between Graham and Nadeau.

Weaver had announced the previous evening that he was dropping out of the Democratic primary scheduled for April 1. Instead, Weaver will run as an independent in the November general election.

"D.C. is a broken system," Weaver said. "We have a warlord problem. I know what you’re thinking. Warlord -- you're thinking of Joseph Kony. You're thinking Taliban. You're thinking right-wing death squads."

Weaver then went on to compare "political brokers" in D.C. to these warlords, in that each was close-minded and change-averse, and each exploit the existing political system.

"Our system is completely broken," Weaver said.

In response to an audience question, Weaver said he would make his candidacy official in June.

"We think we're well within the guidelines," he said.

After Graham arrived, Weaver concluded: "I'd like to thank Jim Graham for giving me the time to speak."

Education, charter schools, neighborhood schools

Weaver also got a question about education. He said there needed to be more resources and better quality education.

"I don't exactly agree with [D.C. City Councilmember] David Catania's plan," he said.

Later, the two Democratic candidates fielded a question about the state of childhood education.

Nadeau noted that, in Ward One, there were more children in public charter schools than neighborhood schools.

"What I'm afraid is happening in some cases is that parents are choosing [charter] schools simply because neighborhood schools aren't good enough," Nadeau said.

Nadeau said she wanted to make it easier for parents to choose a school.

"We want them to be choosing it because it's good for their kids -- not because the other option is bad for them," she said.

In reply, Graham noted his long history of support for bilingual and charter schools in D.C.

"I think that charter schools bring us great richness," Graham said.

Graham went on to say he thought D.C. could have an active charter school movement and good neighborhood schools at the same time.

Various stadium deals

The candidates talked about the competing plans for a new home for D.C. United: a plan by City Councilmember Vincent Orange renovating RFK Stadium vs. a new stadium at Buzzard's Buzzard Point. The latter deal would involve swapping Ward One's Reeves Center (14th and U Streets) for a parcel of land at Buzzard's Point in Southwest Washington.

"The deal for Buzzard's Buzzard Point cannot proceed until we've analyzed RFK," Graham said. Graham noted he had co-sponsored a proposed law by Councilmember Orange about the RFK renovation.

Graham listens, Nadeau speaks
Nadeau was more positive about the Reeves Center/Buzzard's Buzzard Point option, but also wanted to make sure that the successor to the Reeves Center included community space, not just high-end housing.

"I'd like to see that deal move forward," she said. Then she said: "We need to see more transparency."

Adams Morgan and liquor license moratoriums

KCA head and forum moderator Dennis James got into a quarrel with Graham about certain actions Graham may or may not have taken five or more years ago in connections with attempts to renew the liquor license moratorium in Adams Morgan. James eventually yielded to audience members who shouted: "Let the candidates speak!"

"I think one of the biggest issues we're having here is really not about whether there's a moratorium of not," Nadeau said. "It's about whether or not you've got enforcement of the laws on the books. You know, it's whether or not a nightclub -- which is prohibited under the moratorium but is effectively operating under a restaurant license -- is allowed to do that."

Graham said that, when he started on the council, city alcohol inspectors refused to work at nights, but during Graham's period of oversight they began to work at night. Graham also said he found money in the city budget for extra auditors. These auditors worked to ensure liquor licensees complied with city rules so de facto nightclubs could not masquerade as restaurants for licensing purposes.

"The enforcement is so much better," Graham said.

About the effects of moratoriums in general, Graham said: "I think by and large they have been positive." Graham said that, without moratoriums, the pressure of increasing rents would drive all non-alcohol-dependent businesses out of an area. This was why, Graham said, there were no hardware stores or antique shops in the area anymore.

Punch line

At the evening's end, the candidates were given a final opportunity to speak. Graham ended his speech by saying: "In the immortal words of FDR, 'Just one more term'."

"That's a joke," he added.

Read coverage of the same forum in Washington City Paper here.

1 comment:

  1. just an FYI - it's Buzzard Point, not Buzzard's Point