City Paper Widget

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Raising "the Tommy Wells flag" at the Ward Six Candidates Forum

Charles Allen and Darrel Thompson, candidates in the April 1 Democratic primary to replace mayoral candidate Tommy Wells as Ward Six representative, met for a forum in the basement of Watha T. Daniel Library (1630 7th Street NW) in Shaw on March 12. The forum was moderated by Andrew Lightman, publisher of MidCity DC and other hyperlocal news outlets.

The candidates were urged to take off their ties.
The candidates agreed on many things. For example:
  • There is an ethical crisis in DC government.
  • They support new legislation on campaign contributions.
  • They want to improve public transit in Ward Six.
  • They will not seek outside employment if elected to the DC Council.
  • They are against neighborhood preferences for charter schools.
"These wonderful men are very well behaved," Lightman said at the beginning of the evening. Throughout the forum, the candidates spoke respectfully to one another and the general tone remained civil.

Tommy Wells: absent but present

The most discordant note was when Thompson accused Allen of either adopting or rejecting the legacy of Tommy Wells according to political expediency. Allen has been Wells' Chief of Staff for more than six years.

"You can't raise the Tommy Wells flag when it helps you and lower it when it doesn't," Thompson said.

Thompson cited two instances when he thought Wells was insufficiently attentive to his constituents. The first involved the former Shaw-Southwest Circulator Bus, which discontinued service in 2011.

"It got yanked largely at your mentor's [i.e., Wells'] request," Lightman said.

Allen said he would fight for its reinstatement.

"You were there when we lost Circulator in the first place," Thompson said.

The second involved a question about increased demand for "walk-to" neighborhood schools.

"That's a difference between Tommy and me," Allen said. "I'll be a stronger fighter for neighborhood schools."

Thompson said Allen should have started fighting sooner as Chief of Staff.

"You have the ear of your boss," Thompson said.

The Culture of Corruption

The forum took place at the same time as Mayor Gray's State of the District address, and Gray's recent problems were a subject for discussion. In answer to a question about legislative initiatives to curb corruption, Allen suggested a complete elimination of corporate contributions.

As it stands now, a limited liability corporation (LLC) in D.C. can donate to a campaign, so people can and have anonymously established multiple LLCs to enable large but quiet donations.

"When someone is able to give once as themselves, and once for each corporation, that's wrong," Allen said.

At another point in the evening, Allen said: "The way you make sure you have accountability is that you have one name on the check."

Thompson did not come out for elimination of corporate contributions, but instead said "the [D.C. city] council should have some say so."

"We should hold corporations responsible," Thompson said.

Later, Thompson said, "We need new fixes and legislation. This comes back to integrity and character."

No comments:

Post a Comment