Monday, April 22, 2013

At-large council election is tomorrow: vote for Patrick Mara

Patrick Mara The special election for at-large city council is tomorrow, so I hope you go vote. And I hope you vote for Patrick Mara.

I liked Elissa Silverman's message of a progressive person who's above politics -- until she tried to get fellow candidate Matthew Frumin to drop out with an offer to support him in a future run against Mary Cheh (which he said he's not interested in, anyway.) I wrote about that earlier today.

And something else I found out: earlier in the year, she also tried to get Paul Zukerberg thrown off the ballot by challenging his nominating signatures. Her protest was rejected.

This makes two different attempts to get candidates to drop out of the race -- the challenge to Zukerberg and then the an alleged quid pro quo for Frumin. Neither of these are progressive moves.

Maybe I'm naive, but I don't think sort of thing is right, especially if you're trying to be unlike other DC council candidates and above the usual scheming and shenanigans.

I've also liked Frumin, Zukerberg and Mara. However, I think Mara has the best chance of winning between them, and he also has something else which I think is a positive: he's a Republican.

But wait, why is that a good thing in liberal DC? I'm a liberal myself, but here's my argument: Right now, there are only Democrats on the city council, and look what that's gotten us: Kwame Brown's ridiculous request to get a fancy and expensive Lincoln Navigators paid for by taxpayers, and then turning that down and demanding (and receiving) an even fancier one leased by the city for $2,000 a month; Brown (again) going to getting convicted of bank fraud; Harry Thomas using money for his constituents to build a strip club and going to jail for it; Vince Gray or his associates (allegedly) funding a shadow campaign and a puppet candidate to attack Adrian Fenty; Jim Graham's alleged quid pro quo for a developer to drop out of a proposal and request to fund hold a fundraiser for his campaign, and on and on.

I think it's time for a different voice on the council, and that's why I support Patrick Mara. He's a fiscal conservative but moderate to liberal socially (he's pro-marriage equality), and also has been very active in Columbia Heights as a former part owner of Meridian Pint (he actually took place in the Columbia Heights Day cupcake eating contest a few years ago too,) and is a loud voice for making our schools better.

So why not incumbent Anita Bonds? I think Bonds is more of the same with DC Council politics -- she's been involved in local politics for a long time, serving as Marion Barry's deputy campaign manager a couple times and helping with his defense against drug charges. The Post says she's focused mainly on race as why she should be elected.

And something else I don't like is that she works for a construction company and has received by far the most contributions of any candidate from corporations, most of which are construction and development firms, and many of which are located outside DC. She also has the biggest percentage of donors from outside DC overall. I don't think that's a good thing -- is she going to side with these developers and outsiders against people in DC? You can see more about the donors at the Sunlight Foundation's great site on the issue. (See below, orange is corporate, yellow is personal.)

Of course, Patrick Mara isn't perfect -- he allegedly went to people who donated to his previous campaigns to fundraise for a think tank, which is illegal. Mara says that's not true, he went to friends and people he knew to fundraise for the group. The city is currently investigating. On the other hand, he has received the endorsements of the Washington Post, the Sierra Club, the Washington Blade, The Current newspapers, the Fraternal Order of Police, the DC Chamber of Commerce, and the Washington Examiner. In a recent article, the Post lauded his "appealing contrary view."

So I hope you vote for Mara tomorrow.

UPDATE: Jim Graham emailed me about the campaign fundraiser and a BID donation which were in this City Paper article, which I admit I forgot to link to. Here's his comment: "I asked for no such event from them. What they allege is that I requested funds for the U Street BID that I was working on. But that also is not true, since if they had proceeded, this building would have been located within the BID boundaries and this payment would have been required. You just can’t believe all of this."


  1. I like Mara, have voted for him before, and wouldn't be too sad to see him on the council. But he's against a lot of smart growth ideas like bike lanes, and he wouldn't bother answering PoP's questions about his stand on a lot of issues, neither of which says anything good about the type of council member he'll be. Neither of your issues with Silverman bother me at all, while Mara is accused of doing something actually illegal!

  2. Perhaps, but Bonds didn't answer a few things too, and Silverman didn't respond to me on Twitter when I asked about the Sinclair Skinner thing. It runs both ways.

  3. Mara donated money to Mitt Romney. If that doesn't show terrible judgement I don't know what does. I wish you had considered Frumin more. He has done great work with the WilsonHS renovation project and is a very solid on social issues.

  4. I like Frumin as well, but I think the top candidates (as in name recognition and ability to win) are Silverman, Mara and Bonds. And I don't want to Bonds to win, so I'm going to ability to win on this one.

  5. Among the many smart, successful, idealistic, effective politicians who've done what Silverman apparently did, one in particular comes to mind: Barack Obama. Obama owes everything from his state senate seat to his senate seat to the presidency to that kind of routine political maneuver. And that's fine! It tells me that Silverman isn't naive.

    Mara has also tried to persuade potential opponents not to run in various campaigns. What could possibly be unethical about that?

  6. I don't agree. Frumin has a lot of name recognition in upper Northwest. My problem with Silverman is that when asked about taxes she said she was open to raising some taxes. I'm a liberal and I'm not complaining about the current rates in DC, but we don't need higher taxes. And you didn't address my point about Mara. Someone who donated $ to Romney does not represent the values of most DC voters, no matter how hard he's now trying to present himself as "socially progressive." Ever noticed how none of his campaign literature or ads mention the R word?

  7. Anyone know who has the best record on building more bike lanes? Thats the most important issue for me.

  8. Anyone who wants to represent DC residents should take a stand for paid sick days. Who's the only candidate opposed to these basic workplace protections? Patrick Mara. Not surprisingly, he also supported George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.

  9. Silverman is the best candidate on bike lanes, for those concerned about those issues:

    Andrew, I don't think it's fair to fault Silverman for suggesting a fellow candidate drop out of the race (as another commenter suggested, this is pretty routine, and she hasn't tried to hide what she did or her reasoning).

    I'd also suggest that it might not be fair to fault her for not responding to your Twitter question. There are 400,000+ voters in DC, and candidates get bombarded with too many questions to answer each one individually.

  10. Most recent anon, perhaps it's routine, but her whole campaign is how she's above the usual DC political shenanigans. Clearly she isn't if she's trying to get two different people to quit and attacking somebody for doing something he's already remedied and that she is basically doing too.

    And the Twitter thing wasn't a reason not to support her, but was a response to another person who was complaining that Mara didn't respond to PoP.

  11. Andrew, you can probably tell I'm biased, but I don't think it's fair to ding Silverman for a lack of transparency because she didn't respond to your tweet, when she's been completely open throughout this race: publishing her tax returns, releasing her emails with Frumin, etc.

    By way of contrast, the candidate you're endorsing won't even tell voters who he works for.

  12. You're missing my point, I'm not dinging her for that -- somebody else was complaining that Mara didn't respond to PoP, and I responded that many candidates have done the same thing -- Bonds didn't reply to DCist today, for example. It's annoying for all of them, and not a reason for me not to support her.

    And from what I've read, Mara is an independent political consultant doing mostly Republican stuff, and he sells political memorabilia. It's a little odd. The Post wrote about this before, and I liked to the article a few days ago in this post. In the thing he's being investigated for, it was DC Progress, a conservative think tank.

    Look, I admit that Mara isn't perfect. But I think we need a different voice on the council, and he's that. He's a Republican (a moderate one, from what I can tell) and he works on Republican stuff for a living -- that makes sense to me. Silverman, however, claims to be above the usual DC council politics, but is engaged in them. If you're going to claim to be something, be it.

    Remember we've had Republicans before on the Council -- Carol Schwartz did a good job for a long time (then was defeated by Mara in the GOP primary) and David Catania, who is also great, was a Republican before he quit the party over their views on gay rights.

    In short, this is my recommendation. I'm not foaming at the mouth for Mara, but I'd prefer him to anybody else. Folks can read what I have to say and the rest of the comments here and make up their own mind.

  13. This city has a democratic mayor and a full democratic council and still won't pass sick leave issue.

    The number one issue for me is DC Budget Autonomy which is why I'm voting for Mara. He's the best hope out of this list of candidates to make some movement in congress.

    Voting for Mara is not going to turn DC into some Tea Party/Romney utopia.

    He's endorsed by leading LGBQT magazine, sierra club, and just about every newspaper in town.

  14. Do you remember the Schwartz/Mara race? It was ugly, because Mara made it ugly. I won't vote for him for many reasons, although I was a huge Carol fan and think we could really use the diversity, but part of what initially turned me against him was the way he handled that race.


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