DC mayoral candidates participate in Mayors Forum at GWU

At a mayoral candidates forum, challengers for DC Mayor Muriel Bowser also took aim at her as they tried to convince voters that their path forward is best for the nation’s capital.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and the three men who hope to move into her Wilson Building office laid out their visions for the district’s future on Wednesday. In a forum of mayoral candidates, Bowser’s challengers also took aim at her as they tried to convince voters that their path forward is best for the nation’s capital.

Democrats challenging the incumbent mayor in the upcoming June 21 primary are At-Large Councilman Robert White Jr., Ward 8 Councilman Trayon White Sr., and former DC Ward Advisory Commissioner James Butler . Comedian and DC humanitarian Rodney “Red” Grant, who bills himself as a freelancer, also participated in the forum.

The debate — hosted by both the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia and George Washington University — touched on issues ranging from solving homelessness to tackling rising crime in the city.


On crime, Butler said his plan to tackle crime includes hiring more police.

“My plan is simply to bring 700 more police officers to our streets. Well-trained community police. We will get from our cadet program; we will ensure that they are recruited from our secondary schools,” Butler said.

He also called for 24-hour recreation centers for young people and year-round employment programs, including the Marion S. Barry Youth summer employment program.

Robert White has claimed that DC is a “city without a plan” when it comes to fighting crime.

“There are a small number of people who commit the vast majority of violent crime in our city,” he said. “We can and we must identify them, reach them with a clear alternative on the one hand that we will provide you with any support that will get you out of the way of crime, whether it is help with employment, housing with mental health, addiction, whatever. It’s in our interest to fix it. »

Bowser said the district needs more police officers to combat a spike in crime and his budget proposal to DC Council called for 347 additional police officers over the next year.

“I see our call times for police response increasing year on year; I know we don’t have the right number of officers,” Bowser said.

Bowser was also asked about a story first reported on WTOP, the problems at DC’s crime lab, which remains sidelined after its accreditation was revoked a year ago.


On education, Grant, who identifies himself as a humanitarian, said there needed to be more opportunities for children to learn trades in schools as some might not want to go to university.

“You know, some kids just want to work,” Grant said. “We have to dive into this very serious situation right now.”

Trayon White said more needs to be done to ensure success for all students in the city.

“We have to make sure that we can create opportunities for our families because what happens is when you have a bad education, you go to a poorly performing school, you get a low-paying job, you get a poor housing and you have children in that same poor community. So we need to break that cycle,” Trayon White said.

Bowser was asked about the low enrollment and poor academic performance seen at some schools in the city, many of which are east of the Potomac River.

The mayor said there has been an improvement since taking office, including saying there are now 4,000 more students in public colleges in the district than when she became mayor. She also claimed that many parents would drop out of public schools in the third grade.

“I think I may be the only one who has spoken to you tonight who thinks that looking back over the past 15 years, our schools are doing better than they were 15 years ago” , Bowser said.


Robert White said bills he sponsored in the past would have delivered affordable housing faster by working with existing landlords to provide lower rent housing.

“A lot of good bills and good ideas die in this administration because it’s not an implementation administration,” Robert White said. “This is an administration that cuts the ribbon, a slogan, a hashtag and we need a serious mayor”,

Butler’s delisting

Butler was asked by NPR moderator Cheryl Thompson about his disbarment when he owned a law firm in DC. The firm, she said, received “dozens of fraud and malpractice complaints” and resulted in settlements with former clients.

Butler said he chose to give up his license during what he called “one of the most difficult times of my life” and did not break any laws.

According to District of Columbia Court of AppealsButler was “barred with consent” in 2009. The DC Bar website said the move occurs when a lawyer facing an investigation “acknowledges that the material facts on which the allegations of misconduct are based are true” and that “the lawyer submits the consent because the lawyer knows that if disciplinary proceedings based on the alleged misconduct were brought, the attorney could not successfully defend himself against them.

“I did not run away from this problem. I stayed in the community. I stayed invested in the community. I’ve given so much back to this community,” Butler said.

If Bowser’s voters in the November primary and general elections give her four more years in office, she would become the second mayor in district history to serve three consecutive terms.

Melvin B. Baillie