Voting for At-Large Member of the DC Council: seeking a diversity of voices

Helen Qubain

Hello neighbors,

My partner Harry and I have not voted yet as we have been watching the three debates hosted by the DC Office of Campaign Finance for At-Large Member of Council. I highly recommend watching the debates on YouTube:

Harry and I wish we had more than two votes. We are so impressed with the quality of the candidates!  It is very hard to narrow it down to two from the 24. In the end, I am basing my vote on diversity of opinion. Each Ward has its representative. The At-Large Member should be someone who represents broader swaths and bigger interests than a ward Member. There are many unrepresented voices in the city.  According to the website DCist, the DC Home Charter Rule states that only one At-Large seat can be held by a member of the majority party – Democrat. The current Council is comprised of all Democrats and two Independents. Of the current 24 candidates, I believe 21 are actually Democrats running as Independents. 

There is no doubt that true Democratic candidates such as Marcus Goodwin or Ed Lazere are qualified, but they seem to me to be really Democrats who've adopted the label of Independents for purposes of the election. There are only three true non-Democrats running: 

·  Marya Pickering, Republican

·  Ann Wilcox, Green Party 

·  and one other I can’t identify

[Editor's note: The other candidate who listed a party affiliation is
Joe Bishop-Henchman, Libertarian Party. You can see all the candidates listed with their party affiliation on the Ward 3 sample ballot, available here: ] 

For this reason, I am voting for Marya Pickering who is the only Republican candidate of the 24. (I want to disclose that I have been casually acquainted with Marya for years and personally like her.) If you listen to her answers in the debate (she is in the third debate), she has more specific and concrete answers than most of the competing candidates to most questions. She has researched the issues and is clearly qualified.  When you talk to her, you learn that she's interested in spending the City's revenues wisely, and would keep a hawk's eye on wasteful contracts. There are many Republicans in the city and they ought to have a voice on the Council, but really DC partisan politics isn't (fortunately) like we see at the national level. If you listen to Marya Pickering in the debates, she approaches the issues with a unique but researched perspective (she quotes a lot of facts and figures). Unsurprisingly, Marya has been endorsed by the DC Republican Party.  

An interesting anecdote: Harry was at his physical therapy office last week and two people on each side of him had already voted for Marya. They aren't Republicans but felt they should have a voice. These are highly charged and divisive times, but can we at least agree that America benefits when opposing sides listen to one another? 

I am still undecided as to my second choice as there are so many good candidates.

·   In the debates I learned from the candidates that there has never been a Latino / Latina on the Council. So I am considering: 

·   Franklin Garcia (in the first debate)

·   Alexander Padro (in the third debate)

·   Jeanné Lewis (who is in the first debate) mentioned that no one from her part of town has been on the Council for 10 years. I haven’t been able to figure out which part of town she is referring to as all Wards have their own representatives, but it has made me research and contemplate the question of how represented neighborhoods are / feel. 

I am glad so many qualified people are engaged and running. I wish we could vote for more than two. This bodes well for the City's future. Thanks to them all!

Helen Qubain
Albemarle Street

P.S.  The thoughts in this email are my own and not Harry's or anyone else's. 

Join to automatically receive all group messages.