Who will you pick for DC Council at-large on April 23?

Perry Redd

Perry Redd is a songwriter, minister, and social justice organizer who has lived in Knoxville, Tennessee and Washington, DC. He is now executive director of Sincere Seven, a nonprofit advocating for progressive social change. He currently lives in Brightwood.

Question 9

We asked the candidates:

DC is moving towards implementing a number of changes to its zoning code. To that end, where do you stand on eliminating parking minimums near transit; allowing residents to rent out basements, garages, etc. in low-density areas; and allowing more neighborhood-serving retail in residential neighborhoods?

Perry Redd responded:

Overall, I think the regulation changes to be positive and necessary. As we grow as a city, so must the building codes. I don't believe that we can take an over-reaching approach, for each neighborhood has its own character and characteristics.

From parking requirements to new regulations to promote environmental quality and better stormwater management, these changes are overall for the better. The changes to the Planned Unit Developments regulations, and amendments to increase walkability and sustainable neighborhoods do concern me. "Keeping people in their neighborhoods" is not a culturally acceptable concept for some. History is a torrid teacher; as the District is a city comprised of the whole, I don't like the fact that we are creating an "exclusivity" that will make certain neighborhoods foreign to those of other neighborhoods.

I am for the concepts of "aging in place" though my mother-in-law enjoyed traversing throughout the city via public transit deep into her late 80's. I am also concerned that low-income residents will be economically isolated when placed in "affordable housing" units through inclusionary zoning.and not be able to afford the amenities in their immediate vicinity. Economic diversity is off the radar with some of the changes. With IZ, the minimum requirement for affordable housing is so low that we'll never address the lack of affordable housing.

I do agree with the updated provision that the proposal offers in improving options for homeowners to create an accessory dwelling unit. I am of the belief that anyone citizen that has invested their time, energy and life in their home should be able to profit from it if they so choose.

I even heard at an Office of Planning community meeting the concept of micro-housing; I am not a fan of that at all. I see that as a safety issue on several fronts and another means of creating population density in areas that weren't designed for density.

Here is how you rated the candidates' responses:

Question 8

We asked the candidates:

Last year DC Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said that DC schools are suffering from a "truancy crisis." The DC Council is now debating a bill that would increase penalties on parents for kids who chronically miss school. Should parents be held to account for when their kids miss school? How can DC ensure that students attend school consistently?

Perry Redd responded:

Phrasing the question to infer that anyone would propose otherwise is disingenuous; of course parents should be held accountable, but I am unequivocally of the mind that imprisonment is an unacceptable solution. I have learned that further perpetuation of mass incarceration is the mark of targeted gentrification and oppositional to .family values..

I believe in investment in "supportive services" for troubled youth where symptoms look like truancy. Getting a grasp on the underlying environmental issues that spawn truancy is the solution to solving the problem of chronic absences. A "one size fits all" approach is not one I suggest.

I testified at last week's Education Committee hearing on the Attendance Accountability Amendment Act of 2013 and gave antedoctal evidence of the detrimental effects of punitive measures like the ones proposed. Though intent may be genuine, the effects are harmful.

Cutting to the chase, similar legislation in the city I previously resided in only broke my family apart, made my child bitter and exasperated the parenting challenge. We eventually persevered the truancy issue — with therapy sessions. My daughter missed her mother. The legal system had failed to address the human need; children don't necessarily don't know how to express their anxieties, fears or dilemmas. Truancy is one of the means children resort to.

If we can track employees watching porn of the job, then we can track students who should be in school, but do we have the political will? D.C. needs to sincerely and concertedly invest in our children's academic, emotional and familial needs. Our schools have 45,000 students, 4,000 teachers, 125 principles, 2,300 classroom aides, social workers, counselors custodians and other support staff. We need to employ their expertise when issues like disruption, volatility or truancy arise. We need to exercise effective responsibility to our children.

Here is how you rated the candidates' responses:

Question 7

We asked the candidates:

Below are a set of proposals for ethics reform which some have advocated in recent years. For each, would you vote for or against? Further, you can explain any position in more detail if you wish and offer any additional ethics measures you would advocate for.

  • Ban or limit outside employment
  • Eliminate or constrain constituent service funds
  • Ban corporate contributions to campaigns
  • Ban "bundling" from multiple entities controlled by same person
  • Ban contributions by contractors and/or lobbyists who do business with DC
  • Forbid free or discounted legal services, travel gifts, sports tickets for councilmembers

Perry Redd responded:

Ban or limit outside employment

I am for a ban on any outside employment once a resident is elected to the Council. Outside influence is possible, thus corrupting and the job pays more than a living wage to sustain one's standard of living in the District.

Eliminate or constrain constituent service funds

I am for constituent service funds as a mechanism to aid a ps constituents. I am a strong advocate for oversight; my plan for real-time transparent reporting via Open Source software components will bring "sunshine" to the practice


Ban corporate contributions to campaigns

The Redd4Council campaign already committed to refusing ALL corporate donations from day one, as that is a guiding principle of the DC Statehood Green Party. Political campaign should be an affair of and for the people...and no, I don't believe that "corporations are people, my friend!"

Ban "bundling" from multiple entities controlled by same person

I am against any one entity using "bundling" as a means to influence the electoral process. This is an act of deception to the nth degree and should be banned for democracy's sake.

Ban contributions by contractors and/or lobbyists who do business with DC

I am unapologetically against contributions by entities that do business with city because of it's corrupting power to cause council members to "pay up"; I am totally against monetarily induced quid pro quo

Forbid free or discounted legal services, travel gifts, sports tickets for councilmembers

I am for a full and complete ban for the types of "gifts" and/or perks listed above. Any tool that can used to influence and/or compromise the vote or act of a councilperson is unacceptable.

Any of the above-listed mechanisms that could be used to leverage a councilperson's vote should be banned. We must reform of ethical code through of legislative powers and abstain from any act that would resemble impropriety.

Here is how you rated the candidates' responses:

Question 6

We asked the candidates:

Residents who walk and bicycle often feel our streets are not sufficiently safe for them. Others feel that projects to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians have impeded quality of life for those who must drive. Is there a way forward that can bring peace among all road users? What would you say to each of these groups?

Perry Redd responded:

The primary principle is one which I believe is best for DC's residents: .One City.. Mayor Gray coined the phrase which is admirable and workable. It's been a challenge getting there though. Road use is just another of those hurdles we must overcome.

I err on the side of safetyfor all. Danger for bike riders is danger for all. An auto accidentwhether with bike or another caris something we all seek to avoid. Whether for reasons of liability, humanity or piece of mind, we must invest our time and efforts in making it the primary objective.

I espouse choice in methods of travel for all DC residents. Some prefer Metro, bus, bike or walk, and some even prefer car. Which ever choice, none should be punitive. Even though we're experiencing a boom in bicycle ridership, not all residents desire to bike. We shouldand mustrespect that. That does not negate the need for safety and protection of our biking community.

To the biker, I like the concept developed that places bikers in the middle of the street with designated lanes. I understand that that's not uniformly possible throughout the city (like on Sherman Avenue in northwest with it's newly re- designed configuration).

To the driver, there is unequivocally the principle of yielding to pedestrians, bikers and motorcyclistsunder any scenario. Though inconvenient, its non- negotiable. It is what it is.but I do not dismiss the argument of the auto motorist.

I would advocate for localized discussion groups and dedication of $230,000 to a city-wide [re-]education campaign. It appears that bikers and motorists aren't on the same page, causing mounds of frustration that can very likely, be avoided.

Here is how you rated the candidates' responses:

Question 5

We asked the candidates:

What do you think the District should do with its $417 million surplus?

Perry Redd responded:

The thought of a surplus might water the mouths of many, but there are some of us that fear that a continued irresponsibility toward the city's most vulnerable residents may likely occur. It appears that each of the city's departments are fairing well, yet the issue of housing, homelessness and employment are back burner issues of discussion among the city's elected leaders.

I never believe in spending outright an entire surplus. I would propose allocating $200 million of the surplus to the city's reserve fund. This would allow the Mayor to remain consistent with his budget priorities, which in this regard, appear responsible.

The remaining $217 million should be spent among The Housing Production Trust Fund, Homeless Services, enhancing employment and training opportunities for Returning Citizens — especially east of the river — and supportive services for troubled/under-performing DCPS students.

It is also conceivable to use a portion of the surplus as a "tax rebate" for elderly homeowners of the city. Providing cash assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure is a fine way to keep the confidence of city residents. Tax relief for struggling Washingtonians promotes a healthy economy. Those are a few of the economic possibilities I would fund and implement.

I am of the belief that the human needs of Washingtonians must be high on the agenda.even priority, then investment in more creative and technological pursuits of the city should follow, like our proposed Cyber-Inclusion Initiative for internet-challenged areas of the city. Thanks for asking!

Here is how you rated the candidates' responses:

Question 4

We asked the candidates:

Mayor Gray has set a goal of growing by 250,000 residents in 20 years. Previous mayors had similar goals. GMU studies suggest we need over 122,000 new housing units (each of which might hold multiple people) by 2030. How can and should the District accommodate this growth?

Perry Redd responded:

The city is a finite place, with limited natural resources, such as water and "green space." To develop a rational, deliberate, and sustainable plan for population growth, one must ask who would benefit and who would be harmed by this initiative. Would this goal displace longtime, less educated and affluent residents? Who would be the targeted audience for marketing campaigns?

To successfully carry out this vision, all stakeholders must be actively engaged in every phase of development from inception through implementation. Factors for consideration include:

  • revisions to regulatory and zoning requirements to permit taller, multi-family buildings
  • how to manage increased infrastructure burdens resulting from more vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and fiscal and municipal needs.

The city has numerous problems trying to balance its desire for growth with its obligation to address current social needs. The Mayor and Council continue to shutter schools and homeless shelters. Without knowledge of the city's 20-year plan for public education, the prospect of 250,000 more residents could backfire without a realistic, credible plan for delivering high-quality education to elementary and secondary school students. Furthermore, public lands and facilities are not for sale, nor as giveaways to private developers. With pride in our public assets, we can creatively repurpose public assets (closed school buildings), so that they are used to provide needed social services, such as housing for low-income persons.

In addition, in 2010, 30,012 residential vacant properties were on record; that was a 13.2% growth since 2000. Therefore, if DC were to fully fund creatively designed programs that include rigorous monitoring for effectiveness, cultural competence, and responsible legislative oversight, then a new model of governance could emerge where .smart. growth coexists with human and social services, including housing supports for our residents with the lowest incomes.

Such initiatives, if coupled with non-profits and small businesses, could become a model of responsible and accountable growth. It could demonstrate our city's commitment to OneCity, driven by policies founded on reduced income inequality; a realistic plan to eliminate child poverty; living wage, union jobs; the expansion of housing options for all; and sustainable living.

Here is how you rated the candidates' responses:

Question 3

We asked the candidates:

DC's education system has improved in recent years for many kids, but many schools remain inadequate to our children's needs. If you could design a better school system for DC, what would it look like? Would we have more teacher evaluations or fewer? More charter schools, fewer, or different ones? More or fewer kids going to local schools? How else would your school system differ from the one we have today?

Perry Redd responded:

It is clear that "improvement" is subjective and with rose-colored glasses, we make our cases on progress in the DCPS system. We, as a consensus, removed the Rhee/Fenty model of governance of our schools, only to be slammed again by the current Chancellor, Kaya Henderson. Once again, parents and community were ignored.in particular, the lower-income community of DC residents.regarding the recent decision to close 15 schools. I wholly disagree with this mode of operation.

I believe that personal connection, fiscal responsibility and engaging dialogue are all pertinent components in the drive toward progress, and eventually success. I believe the lack of pride in our public assets shown by our school system administration demonstrates a reflection of a corporate-driven philosophy of schools management. I am not of this mind.

I would act and support more attention to the communitive decision-makingmodel and using our creative and ingenuitive genius among us to downsize existing public schools (if necessary) to maintain the hegemony of our communities and maintain our public assets. To go from a traditional three-floor school to a one-floor school, is not an impossible option. Charters schools could conceivably share campus space with existing DCPS facilities. These are just a few of the working options I would employ if elected.

Understanding that the prospect of "choice" createsan air of satisfaction for parents, but that alone does not guarantee success. The fact that choice is often predicated on income, perpetuates the existing gap in the provision of resources allotted to our children. Many charter schools have a culture (and sometimes even a written contract) that provides parents opportunities to influence school management and to become more involved with the processes of school governance and functioning.This is notthe case with public schools, therefore we operate in an inherently unconstitutional environment. A charter school's autonomy regarding personnel (union/wage requirements), public-private (corporate sponsorship) and most of all, academic requirements speak to gross inequality. In light of the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board decision of 1954, separate can never be equal.

To further address the question posed, I am sadden by the continued emphasis on teacher testing to garner competency, as opposed to testingteacher effectivenessin reaching our children's potential. Standardized testing never revealed the full potential of any student, but the retention of prescribed information. I am against using Ayn Rand-type protocols to excise DCPS teachers. The tactic is a favorite of the Heritage Foundation, but ill serves the welfare of our children. Teachers are more than information drones, they are human caretakers of our children's growth and development. They have been degraded by our past two chancellors and must be treated with respect. My position is that the vaguely-proscribed evaluation model must be reformed.

I am unequivocally for a moratorium on any further charter school expansion. I am for "pride in our public assets," especially, our public schools. I am for investment in the existing school curricula, programming, facilities and children, which will breed success and a healthier, more unified DC.

Here is how you rated the candidates' responses:

Question 2

We asked the candidates:

Chief Lanier and Mayor Gray have made a lot of the drop in homicides, but other crimes — assaults, robberies — remain stubbornly high. How should DC police deal with those challenges, and do you have an opinion on how many officers MPD needs?

Unfortunately, Perry Redd did not respond to this question.

Question 1

We asked the candidates:

The District has changed a lot since 1993, and will likely change much more by 2033. What are 2-3 changes you hope to see by 2033, and how will electing you to the DC Council help bring them about?

Unfortunately, Perry Redd did not respond to this question.

Whats next

We will be asking the candidates more questions, and will post their responses to one question each week on Tuesday. In addition, after voting ends, we will analyze the results and post a summary of your reactions.

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