Ward 5 Councilmember Candidates Answer Your Questions

On November 4th, 2014 DC will have its general election, and the seat for Ward 5 Councilmember will be on the ballot. The DC Board of Elections released the list of candidates on the ballot for the Democratic primary at this point. For Ward 5 Councilmember, these are:

  • Kathy Henderson, current ANC Commissioner of SMD 5D05 (near Benning Rd. and Maryland Ave, NE). Her website is here.
  • Jacqueline Manning, current ANC Commissioner of SMD 5C04 (near Mt. Olivet and Benning Roads, NE). We could not locate a website for Ms. Manning.
  • Kenyan McDuffie, current Ward 5 Councilmember. His website is here.
  • Carolyn Steptoe, current ANC Commissioner of Bookland’s SMD 5B04. Her website is here.

We asked readers to submit questions for these candidates, and we asked these candidates to answer them. Jacqueline Manning did not respond. Carolyn Steptoe responded that “The Steptoe for Ward 5 City Council campaign greatly appreciates receiving this questionnaire” but after a 2 day deadline extension did not send any answers. So, you asked it, here are responses from Commissioner Henderson and Councilmember McDuffie:

1)      What is your platform/why are you running?

Kathy Henderson:

I am running for the Ward 5 seat because I have an exceptionally strong record of improving the safety and livability of my community by targeting open-air drug markets, tackling overwhelming trash issues, nuisance housing and effectively advocating for new trees, sidewalks, street lights and amenities like Denny’s, the Starburst Plaza and Atlas Flats; I also supported other Ward 5 projects like the Gateway Market project, Rhode Island Row and the Hecht’s Warehouse project. I have been elected five terms as an advisory neighborhood commissioner (ANC) and serve as the chairperson for ANC 5D. I have been recognized for my excellent work in People magazine and Essence magazine and received awards from the US Attorney’s Office, Chief of Police, Fifth District, ANC 5B and Ward 5 Democrats.

Kenyan McDuffie:

As a pledge I made when running in 2012’s special election, I have restored integrity to the Council and built a legislative and constituent services record I am proud of. In a second term I will continue to deliver resources to improve the quality of life for all residents in Ward 5. This includes:

  • serving as the Council’s affordable housing champion;
  • implementing recommendations from my Ward 5 Industrial Land Transformation Task Force;
  • enhancing employment opportunities for Ward 5 residents, supporting our small businesses, and advocating for our storefront corridors; and
  • holding DCPS accountable for quality educational opportunities for our families.

2)      If elected, what specific steps will you take to maintain Ward 5′s economic diversity?

Kathy Henderson:

The community I represent is economically diverse; we have retired seniors, working professionals, persons earning six figure salaries and persons receiving subsidized housing and food assistance and we have students and unemployed residents. I have worked tirelessly with DC Government and Federal stakeholders to create a safer, livable community that supports a good quality of life for all. If elected to represent Ward 5 I will expand my advocacy for affordable housing, market rate housing, including home ownership and leverage legislative resources to attract desirable businesses and jobs to Ward 5. I was an early supporter of inclusionary zoning and restoring full funding to the Housing Production Trust Fund. I will also expand my advocacy to ensure compliance with our city’s “first source” hiring provisions. I support city initiatives to attract and maintain small businesses that add an aesthetic and economic benefit to our community. I believe there is a place at the table for everyone.

Kenyan McDuffie:

Economic diversity is a vital component of the city’s character. My wife and I live in the house that has been in my family for over 60 years. Unfortunately, if we wanted to purchase that house today, we probably could not afford it. We have a serious problem when those who are born and raised in this city, those who are retiring after a lifetime of service, and young professionals starting a family here all cannot afford to live in the District. The city’s growing unaffordability is a problem that I have been focused on since taking office in 2012.

3)      How will you make sure that lower and middle class residents are not priced out of neighborhoods because of gentrification?

Kathy Henderson:

The District has some of the strongest rent control laws in the country and I support maintaining protections for renters, especially seniors on fixed incomes. Applying inclusionary zoning provisions to new development and setting affordable housing guidelines at 50% of the area median income are credible ways to expand affordable housing opportunities. Using the Housing Production Trust Fund to create condominiums is a way to create affordable home ownership opportunities. I believe the time has come to implement affordable modular homes and rentals in the DC market, which is proving to be a successful affordable housing strategy in New York City.  We can move forward as a city without pushing our residents out.

Kenyan McDuffie:

The city’s renaissance should be celebrated, but more importantly, it should be shared. As the Council’s champion for affordable housing, I have the knowledge and skills necessary to grapple with the difficult issue of housing affordability. I introduced three bills to improve the city’s housing affordability, and also allocated funds in the 2014 budget toward housing subsidies for renters and those at risk of homelessness. I voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $11.50/hour and have been a consistent advocate for our working class. I will continue to push for policies that support affordable housing and fair employment conditions.

4)      What steps would you take to reduce hate crimes on the basis of race and sexual orientation?

Kathy Henderson:

I support enhanced enforcement to make our communities safer and more livable. I created the 5D Court Watch program to help close the door on repeat offenders by encouraging residents to write community impact statements at sentencing. Superior Court judges are listening to residents and issuing tougher sentences for criminals. I am working on legislation entitled: “The Omnibus Community Protection Act”, which will offer additional tools to fight certain categories of crime, including matters related to race and sexual orientation. I believe the DC Office of Human Rights must improve upon its record of investigating and resolving complaints based on race and sexual orientation.

Kenyan McDuffie:

Since taking office, I have proactively engaged public safety agencies and community activists to raise awareness on hate crimes. I have joined outraged residents in rallies against recent violent attacks appearing to be hate crimes in Eckington and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. As Chair of the Committee which has oversight of the Office of GLBT Affairs, I will continue to seek ways to improve our city’s response to suspected hate crimes. As a legislator, I will continue to make certain that MPD has the resources necessary to ensure that hate crimes are thoroughly investigated and suspects are properly charged.

5)      How would you strengthen ethics in government?

Kathy Henderson:

I am a proven leader citizens can trust, underscoring an unassailable record of ethical leadership. I intend to maintain my integrity if elected to represent the residents of Ward 5. I will provide vigorous oversight as a member of the Council and hold the office of the Inspector General accountable for safeguarding the public trust. Councilmembers have an important oversight role, which if consistently undertaken will protect the public trust. Agency performance hearings represent an excellent opportunity to account for DC Government resources and to ensure that appropriate management controls are in place to protect our resources. I will remain vigilant on my watch.

Kenyan McDuffie:

Since taking office, I’ve introduced and passed legislation to strengthen government ethics and increase transparency and fairness in elections. In fact, last year the Council passed my comprehensive campaign finance reform bill that substantially improves the integrity of District elections. I also wrote and passed a bill giving greater authority to the new Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, and have introduced a comprehensive ethics bill that, among many things, creates a Universal Code of Conduct for all District employees.

Voters also share our responsibility to hold elected officials accountable through our democratic process.

6)      How will you address the health disparities in Ward 5? (Type 2 diabetes, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, etc.)

Kathy Henderson:

Income disparities, lack of health insurance and education contribute to poor health outcomes for our residents. I have facilitated meetings to register our residents for health insurance and provide HIV testing, mammograms, health screenings and education. If elected as the Ward 5 Councilmember I will strengthen my partnership with hospitals, schools, including universities to conduct health information and service outreach to our residents.

Kenyan McDuffie:

The key to addressing health disparities is education and access, so that preventative care and early detection is sought and readily available for all residents. I will work with the Department of Health to establish community clinics in areas where health outcomes are poor. A key barrier to healthcare access is access to insurance, so it is also vitally important that all residents are insured or have access to Medicare or Medicaid. In a second term, I will continue to work with our city’s social services agencies to ensure they are adequately resourced to fulfill their missions.

7)      It seems that Ward 5 is a dumping ground for projects the rest of the city doesn’t want. Why are there so many trash transfer facilities and marijuana growing facilities in Ward 5? It seems that someone other than the Council representative is driving things like Costco, the McMillan project, and the school closings. Are Ward 5 Councilpersons obligated somehow to accept what the other wards don’t want?

Kathy Henderson:

When I moved to Ward 5 in 1998, I joined the fight against trash transfer stations here and I expanded my efforts to keep sexually oriented businesses out of Ward 5; I joined forces with like-minded neighbors and we were successful in keeping a sexually oriented business from opening on Mt. Olivet Rd.  While serving as the Chairperson for Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5D my colleagues and I worked to keep another marijuana facility from opening in Ward 5.  As an ANC and private citizen I have always fought the good fight against undesirable businesses and industrial eyesores in Ward 5. I relish the opportunity to fight on behalf of all Ward 5 residents to protect our interests against the crap that others do not want. I will stand up against the proliferation of strip clubs, marijuana facilities, trash stations and any undesirable facility that threatens a good quality of life for Ward 5 and I will rally Ward 5 residents to stand with me.

Kenyan McDuffie:

Since my first day in office, I tackled the challenge of Ward 5’s industrial land by spearheading the Ward 5 Industrial Land Transformation Task Force, which is developing a strategic plan to transform our industrial areas into a magnet desirable businesses and amenities.

I have also passed a legal moratorium to prevent new strip clubs from opening in Ward 5, put limits on additional medical marijuana facilities, introduced legislation to address poor industrial air quality (including funding two air quality inspectors) and introduced a bill to address the operations of the ward’s waste transfer businesses.

8)      What is your stance on awarding city contracts to developers for large land tracts like The McMillan-Olmsted Park?

Kathy Henderson

I am a former member of the DC Historic Preservation Review Board and now serve as a member and trustee of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City Council, underscoring my interest in historic preservation. I have attended many community meetings to discuss development plans for the historic McMillan Reservoir/Olmsted Park. I support moving forward with a thoughtful development plan that preserves and balances green space with an aesthetically pleasing and appropriately scaled development plan. I believe allowing the community and stakeholders to participate in refining the plan will result in a stronger design that benefits all parties.

Kenyan McDuffie

In many instances, the private sector is more technically capable of developing land. While each site and each project must be analyzed individually, in general I support utilizing the talent and efficiency of the private sector to achieve important city objectives.

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