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

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?

Here is how you rated the candidates' responses:

Elissa Silverman responded...

My campaign is focused on three foundations upon which we can build D.C.'s future.

Investment: I will push for strategic investment in our greatest civic asset: our residents. By 2033, I want every D.C. public school and D.C. public charter school to be high performing and D.C.'s achievement gap to be closed. I will push for high-quality pre-kindergarten in every school, committed teachers who focus on intellectual and emotional development beyond test scores, and principals who lead as well as manage. I will also champion continued investment in our physical infrastructure, including transportation options that decrease car traffic such as Capital Bikeshare and Metro.

Accountability: I will focus on oversight, making sure we spend tax dollars efficiently and effectively. By 2033, I want D.C. to have the lowest unemployment and poverty rates of any major U.S. city. I will watchdog federal and local funds for workforce development, using data to make sure the dollars we spend turn into jobs and careers for residents. I will focus on expanding our tax base through smart economic development and diversifying our economy. I will encourage small business growth through incubators and by making agencies such as DCRA (Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs) engines of—not barriers to—opportunity.

Integrity: I will focus on honesty, transparency, and responsiveness. By 2033, I want D.C. teenagers to believe they have the best local government in the country. By then a ban on direct corporate contributions, which I proudly support, will be 20 years old.

Matthew Frumin responded...

Over the next 20 years we must work to make a great city better still, strengthening our education system, creating jobs for D.C. residents and ensuring housing options for all.

We must make a series of investments in transportation infrastructure, utilities, parks and public buildings. Those investments should promote livable and walkable neighborhoods, put our people to work and impose the least burden possible on D.C. taxpayers. I have worked in the trenches on these issues and delivered results. After the modernization of Wilson High School a senior D.C. official said: "You pushed us hard, and made a real difference." I will play the same role on the Council.

A successful City requires a great education system, from pre-K to the workforce. Today, we are succeeding in some areas and failing in others. I have worked for years to improve schools throughout the City, I know what the challenges are and I have come up with creative ways to address them. I will bring that passion and expertise to the Council and be a part of solving our education issues at long last.

One change we need to avoid is the City becoming inaccessible to all but the most fortunate. We must ensure that people of all incomes can live in the City. I will be a strong advocate on the Council for practical affordable housing solutions.

By 2033, we should also have long since achieved budget autonomy and voting rights and taken our place as a state.

Diallo Brooks responded...

We all need to be dedicated to developing a world class public education system so that by the year 2033 we have a school system that provides each student in our city with a first-class high quality education that meets the needs of children from all quadrants and neighborhoods. This can only be accomplished holistically. We must work with education leaders to support ongoing teacher development, using best practices that ultimately eliminate deeply rooted socio-economic and racial gaps that currently exist in schools. Every child in Washington DC should be career and college ready with skills that will equip them to compete and thrive economically and socially as adults. As a Councilman I would work with Council colleagues and the Mayor's office to engage teachers, parents, community leaders and businesses in support of this critical mission. We need to examine in totality our entire structure, eliminating barriers to success and supporting the needs of every child. Fiscal oversight is vital to ensure that dollars actually touch students in the classroom. I will work to emphasize the need to structure support and incentives for teachers that encourage innovation and foster collaborative techniques, all of which must be driven by strong school leadership that creates an environment of success.

A second area of success would be to see my hometown become a national leader in incubating, supporting and sustaining small local business development that connects to the economic prosperity of the nation's capital. I will work with city leaders to streamline business regulations to make this process less restrictive for new locally owned businesses, while at the same time making sure we don't water down consumer and environmental protections. Through Council leadership, I will build partnership pipelines that help emerging businesses participate in business to business mentoring and peer support programs. By working with small local businesses and implementing economic development plans, I will insist that DC residents are able to take advantage of the economic prosperity in this city. This can only happen if we build public/private job training initiatives that prepare residents for 21st century jobs which keep pace with local emerging markets.

Patrick Mara responded...

Our education system in the District of Columbia — cradle to college and career — must be the best in the country. Long before we turn the calendar to 2033 the District should be a city where every resident has the same opportunities. We can ensure this by providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to achieve their dreams.

Education reform is the key to accomplishing this goal. We must continue to take bold steps and sometimes challenging leaps in the right direction.

Too often our elected officials find themselves distracted by scandal, squabbling over petty disagreements or chasing pie-in-the-sky fantasies, when instead they should be focused on our schools.

As a State Board of Education Member, I've stood firm in support of the education reform policies that Mayor Fenty and Michelle Rhee brought to the District. It has not concerned me that some of their ideas are politically unpopular or have been the subject of criticism. What is important to me is that we improve on the Fenty/Rhee legacy and stand up to any interest groups or political opportunists who seek to take us backward.

That is what District residents will get when they elect me to the Council. A proven, independent voice with the backbone to stand up for students, families and teachers. If the District cannot provide a first rate education for its children, there is no policy or project that will make 2033 look much different or any better than 2013.

John Settles responded...

I envision a DC ("Dynamic City") in 2033 that is a national model of innovation, and operational efficiency.

We will live /work in a Net Energy city, powered by Co-Generation, bio waste and other renewables. DC 2033 will be a world leader in urban sustainability, with an advanced multimodal transportation system; urban plantagons and farms; multi stream recycling, free- cycling; and remanufacturing facilities. Our water will be obtained from the treatment of harvested rain, and non-potable water will be reused.

Our state of the art schools using a STEM/Arts/Robotics program taught through Animation, Gaming and Augmented Reality, will develop independent thinkers who are able to write code and create next generation technologies.

The city's diverse housing stock will surpass Swiss Minergie standards, and allow residents from all socio economic levels to live in artistic and culturally rich neighborhoods where the streets are safe, and clean.

As a council member I will sponsor listening meetings in each ward of the city where residents and key department leadership will hear from great visionaries such as Richard Florida, Eric Freed, etc., with the objective of shaping specific goals and road maps for attainment.

During this process I will hold individual and joint meetings with city, and federal agencies to determine if existing programs, pilots or studies can support intelligent urbanization projects. Additionally, I will seek to create a website that will chronicle ideas and progress. I will task staff with seeking out partners for public/private partnerships to finance, design, and implement these projects.

Pedro Rubio responded...

The three necessary changes which I would like to see by 2033 are improvements to our school and transportation system, as well as changes to Ward 7 & 8.

In 2033, District of Columbia Public Schools will be ranked number one amongst the country from 2015 to 2033. In order to achieve this accomplishment for the District, the priorities should be rewarding and hiring more teachers, low student-to-teacher ratio, academic strength, newer textbooks, after school programs, preparatory SAT and ACT classes, college application assistance, college funding assistance, and parent involvement. The proposed 20 school closing will remain open!

By 2033, public transportation should reach all parts of the city in an efficient and timely manner. I would like to work towards increasing technology that will notify Washingtonians about delays, schedules, routes, and other transportation options in real time. I will work towards expanding our transportation options like Uber, Cable Cars, more quality taxis, longer metro hours, car and bike sharing-plans, more bike lanes and zone parking.

In 2033 the biggest change I want to see is in Ward 7 and 8. Better schools, walkability, new developments, no crime and a low unemployed rate. High crime and unemployment rates go hand in hand, in order to decrease the crime rate, there needs to be plentiful employment opportunities and someone who cares. I was born and raised in DC. I care deeply about the residents in Ward 7 & 8 because I know the struggles of growing up in a tough environment.

Jon Gann responded...

In the last 20 years, the District has changed in dramatic ways: A downtown that was abandoned after the work day concluded is now a vibrant attraction for locals and tourists alike. Neighborhoods once burned out and dilapidated have come back stronger than ever, attracting younger residents who want to create a new Washington. New industries have sprung up to support technology, arts and personals services. Washington is no longer a sleepy town, but an established metropolis on par with the great cities of the world. We don't have to strive to be world-class — we are, already.

Yet with all of these advances, there are still issues which have plagued us — and will continue to do so — unless our citizens take action and responsibility for their elected officials. The District's school system has seen improvements in the past decade, yet our youth are ill-prepared for the world that awaits them. Depressed communities are springing back to life, but crime and violence still cast a pall over the lives of too many of our neighbors. Metro, a political hot potato, is strained to capacity and will not be able to adequately move residents and workers as the city expands. But most importantly, our political leaders are not accountable for their foibles — from awarding contracts to friends and funders, to breaking campaign laws and other abuses of the public trust - business as usual must come to an end.

I am dedicated to creating a vibrant District for all our citizens where transportation options, green spaces, cultural amenities and new businesses are encouraged to prosper — without the impediment of special interests or political self-interest. The only hands in my pockets are mine. And when they are out, they reach out to the hands of my neighbors so we can work together for a better Washington, DC.

Paul Zukerberg responded...

2033? I can't predict that. But I do know that this is the year to reform our marijuana laws. Reform means more police fighting violent crime.

15 states, and most major cities, including New York, Philly, Chicago and Boston have already decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Each state law is slightly different, but they all reduce possession of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction. Instead of arrest and prosecution, adults pay a fine. For juveniles, it's parental notification, plus an educational class.

Why this change? An arrest — plus all the paperwork — takes cops off the street. Chicago's police chief calculated that an arrest takes an average patrol officer 4 hours to complete. Writing a civil citation takes only 30 minutes. In DC, we arrest 4,000 people a year for pot. What a waste of trained police officers.

For us, reducing the penalty for possession of marijuana would mean an extra 14,000 police man-hours to fight real crime. The strains on our courts, prosecutors and probation officers would also ease. Violent crime is up. In 2012, felony assault was up 8%. Theft — up 15%. Rape — up 36%. We need every available cop on the street. More police on patrol means safer streets and a safer Metro.

2033? I just hope I'm around to see it. I'm going to be retired by then. But on April 23, 2013, with your help, I'm going to put our police back on patrol and focused on arresting violent criminals.

AJ Cooper responded...

The most important change that I would like to see in DC by 2033 is one that speaks to the fundamental issues that we have as a city. These issues are as old as our country and need to be addressed before we can truly move forward.

We are living the very definition of social injustice. In a place small enough to drive across in 15 minutes, we have some of the largest income disparities in the country. We have whole communities that have been living in poverty for generations and a ruling class that feeds off the status quo. It is impossible to grow an economy properly when these sorts of disparities exist. These disparities must be addressed and corrected by 2033. Washington DC should set the example for the rest of our nation and prove that we are stronger together than we are divided.

By electing me to City Council, the people of DC would be giving themselves the best chance at actually seeing any of this happen during their lifetimes. I am uniquely equipped to build coalitions and bridge the unfortunate divides that still plague our city. I am also untethered by ties to the old guard. Residents can rest assured that when I make a decision it will be because it is in their best interest, not because it will serve the same corrupt leaders that have benefitted from the misery of our most vulnerable residents. I am the vanguard of a new way. Cooper. Together.