Friday, September 10, 2010

NCH election endorsements: voting is Sept. 14th!

The DC primary (and thus in most cases final) election is this coming Tuesday the 14th, and as a way to help undecided folks out there, I've decided to write up my endorsements for this year. Some of the choices were easy to make, and some were a lot tougher. These are my picks for the Democratic primary, but since the city is heavily Dem, in most cases the primary winners will be the general election winners.

But whether you like my recommendations or not, vote!!!

Mayor -- Adrian Fenty boils down to a couple main issues: schools, development, and being a jerk. He's done all he can to shoot himself in the foot this election cycle, after winning every precinct in the city last time around. By most measures the city is better off than it was four years ago, there's new development, a growing population (for the first time in many decades), the city government is more responsive, and on and on. The only problems are that he acts pretty arrogant and he pals around with some less than shining characters. But in the grand scheme of things, there have been no major scandals, and if he were a little friendlier and responsive he'd take this election by a landslide. Vince Gray seems like a good guy, but I'm worried he'll be too status quo and won't want to continue to push for school and government reform. Thus I'm backing Adrian Fenty, though to be honest I think Gray would be a decent mayor as well.

Council Chairman -- In another close one, I think Kwame Brown would do a better job than Vincent Orange, who seems to be around a lot but I've never really noticed him doing anything major. Not a good sign for a long time politician.

At-Large Council -- I really like Clark Ray, who's an energetic guy and ran the city's parks and rec department, but through no fault of Ray, I'm going with incumbent Phil Mendelson, an accomplished veteran politician. The reason is that the other candidate, Michael D. Brown is basically running on name recognition of another man: Michael A. Brown, a popular At-Large Councilmember. In fact, Michael D. Brown hasn't been appearing in debates or interviews and doesn't put his picture on most campaign material, most likely because he's hoping people don't figure out that he's not who they think he is. Don't let Michael D. Brown pull a Distinguished Gentleman on DC, vote Mendelson.

Ward 1 Council -- This is a tough one. Jim Graham has been in office for a long time and does a fantastic job on constituent services: if you email him, you'll get a response quickly. However, he's also a bit of a publicity hound and had some issues with his chief of staff a year ago. Challengers Bryan Weaver and Jeff Smith both seem like very good guys: Weaver is an energetic ANC commish and Smith ran a schools non-profit. Unfortunately I can only pick one, so I'm going with Jim Graham's experience. To be honest I wish all three could be on the council.

US Rep and Shadow Rep -- Eleanor Holmes Norton. She's a feisty lady. And while Mike Panetta hasn't been in the news too much lately, which is basically his main role in the shadow rep spot, he seems like a good guy and clearly believes in the cause.

ANC -- For the most part, I would recommend only voting for ANC commissioners you've heard of -- if you haven't heard of them, they probably aren't doing a very good job. That said, I always support Sedrick Muhammad, who's a very responsive guy and also runs the South Columbia Heights Neighborhood Association, and Kat Skiles, who's the first person I've seen actually have an ANC campaign. That kind of energy deserves votes!

If it was based just on Columbia Heights Yahoo Listerserve posts and negative comments on my blog, I would recommend voting for whoever is running against William Jordan, but as an ANC commish Jordan actually seems like a reasonable guy. And that's saying something on the ANC. And if he's running, I'd recommend voting against Lenwood Johnson, who always seems to forward every argument to entire listserves, middle-school style. Very mature.

Anyway, hope that helps. Here's the 2010 voter guide and a sample Ward 1 ballot. You can find your polling place and learn more at the Board of Elections site.


  1. And of course, don't forget the influential NCHAR* endorsements:

    Mayor: Gray
    Council Chair: Kwame
    Council AL: Mendo
    W1 Council: Weaver

    Even if Jim Graham has responded to your emails, the man needs a kick in the pants. Don't worry, Graham will coast, but let's make him sweat. And if Brian gets elected to his seat, even better.


    *NCHAR = New Columbia Heights Anonymous Reader. Anonymous is everywhere! Vote because he/she tells you!

  2. I think that "Vote for the asshole" is an interesting endorsement.

  3. Damn, If I was running that anti-endorsement would cost me 2 1/2 votes. :)

    My posts aren't negative as much as they are counter to simplistic reasoning usually based on "what someone heard" that comes from most blogs vs. really looking into an issue.

    Graham has spent the last 6 years sucking resources out of this area of the Ward for own political needs. Then responds to a 25 cent phone call about an issue that really should be handled at the community level and we heep praise.

    Graham is liked because he allows folk both new, medium and old in this community to get around the dirty work of being neighbors(especially dealing with those not in our particular cliques)that work together and solve problems.

    He's crutch for the civically crippled.


    Weaver, Weaver, Weaver...

  4. Dude Kwame brown? seriously? dude has got like 700k in debt and 25k of that in credit cards want THAT guy balancing the city's budget? Plus, on NPR he sounded like he may have just learned to talk...but then again i can't think of one standout thing about Orange...

    ...i like Weaver a lot, but can't blame you for going with the status quo...Generally, i don't trust men in bow ties
    ...but also, I am against graham b/c he supported the housing project in the empty lot next to the rosa whatever charter school on 11th st.

    (side note - lately i can't see the "verification word" 1 out of 3 times...i keep selecting post until the word finally is that my system/server/pop blocker or something on your end?)

  5. to Annoynmous "William"...maybe i am "simplistic" but i have no idea what your wrote. i recognize those words in general but just not how you opted to group them.

  6. Fenty is an asshole, Gray all the way

  7. I'll say it this way. Graham serves as a community buffer, which allows persons of different races, classes, ethnics groups to avoid having to really work together on community issues. Have a problem, call Graham instead of working with the other to fix or address the issue. Having a civic babysitter is not what we need.

    I don't support Graham because he attempted to block and the truncated the Columbia Heights Streetscape project and civic plaza. Of course after years of fighting against moving the project forward, he took credit for its completion.


  8. at William:

    don't know about the civics project...i was under the impression it was his baby.

    regarding the community buffer: what would you and or what do you think he should do? if you saw some of my neighbors, i don't think you'd want to work with them either. thus having a "community babysitter" is a good thing. These people go from 0-60 faster than a porche over trivial matters. ex: "excuse me could you try to close your trashbags so when the wind blows the trash isn't spread all over. answer: Who the fnck you telling me what to do blah blah blah".

  9. William,

    I would argue that's one of the main roles of the city council and ANC. For example, my friend got some tickets for someone else dumping trash behind his house. He tried to fight them but couldn't get anybody from DCRA or DPW to answer his questions, and went to Graham. He knows who to talk to in the city government better than I do.

  10. So, basically, you're voting for all the incumbents, on the basis that they're all doing OK jobs. Fair enough, but not really much meat there.

    Personally, I think Jim Graham has run his course and spends way too much time writing stupid legislation in response to petty NIMBY issues. I am voting for Weaver, though I doubt he'll win.

    I also think Mendelson needs to go. He has consistently fought legislation to get tough on juvenile offenders and sentencing, and a lot of VERY BAD people have gone back on the streets and hurt or killed people after being arrested, because of his role in keeping our crime laws weak. He sucks. I don't care what his opponents motivations are -if he's bad he'll get outed soon enough, but Phil needs to be stopped and this is a way.

    And Fenty. Ah, Adrian Fenty. Whatevs - I think he's on a crazy train 'bout to go off the rails, I can't stand him but I doubt I'll change anyone's mind here!

  11. Fair enough on Mendelson. I'd rather have Ray, but I'm afraid that more votes for Ray = Michael Brown wins, and I think he'd do a worse job than either.

  12. Michael Brown has done an excellent job of ensuring that nobody knows what he does. According to his very limited wikipedia page, he runs a company that provides direct mail services to political entities. He may very well work for his opponents!

    Anyway, he's clearly shown that having the same name as a better-known local politician who most people also can't exactly say what they do, but have heard of, will get you elected. That's how he became the best Shadow Senator DC has ever had.

    In his picture on Wikipedia, he looks a lot like Sherriff J.W. Pepper, who, in Live And Let Die, was a no-funny-business, get-stuff-done kind of guy.

    I think based on this similarity, he'd be a great Councilmember.

  13. On the civic plaza. Nope, Graham has never been a strong supporter and has over the years frustrated the effort. But, once there was enough pressure to get it built he jumped in from of the train and took all the credit. To be fair, he's played both sides so at times has been supportive.

    In terms of working with neighbors. Jim tells both(all sides) what they want to hear. So, all sides believe they don't need to compromise as long as they can call Jim. So, we all just become greater jerks. His goal is to be the hero.

    Now in terms of getting a ticket fixed. Sure, I did not say he had no positive attributes. I say the negatives have grown to outweigh the positive enough that he is no long good for this Ward.


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