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Wrapping Up This Week's Debates

D.C. Wire attended political debates this week for the Sept. 9 primary. There were debates for the races in Ward 7 and Ward 2, and today is the upcoming Republican rumble between longtime incumbent Carol Schwartz and newcomer Patrick Mara --- promising to lead to something interesting. (That debate, set for 4 p.m., will be streamed live on The Washington Post website.)

The wards 7 and 2 debates, sponsored by the Capitol View Civic Association and Foggy Bottom Association respectively, had at least two things in common: Washington Post columnist Colbert King as moderator and plenty of disgruntled residents unhappy with the incumbents.

Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) is facing Villareal Johnson and Robin Hammond Marlin, who worked on her campaign last year. John Campbell, a barber who is running, did not attend the debate.

Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) has a challenge from lawyer Cary Silverman, president of the Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association.

Now, some highlights:

The Ward 7 forum on Tuesday focused on crime issues, which went from how do you feel about the ban on single sales to do you support the death penalty.

On single sales, Marlin answered first, saying she supported a ban. But she also presented the theme of her campaign: That she would first consult the community. It was a swipe at Alexander who has been criticized for failing to listen to residents.

Johnson then gave a history lesson on single sales bans and how they started in Ward 4 and eventually made it to 7. He also got in a pro-D.C. remark. The liquor store owners, he said, "They all live in Virginia anyway."

Alexander followed up with a correction to Johnson, who did not mention that Alexander introduced the legislation that banned sales in Ward 7. She also said there were three hearings on the issue. That was directed indirectly to Marlin.

Marlin followed up by saying there were "one or two individuals" from Ward 7 to testify.

"And I was one of those individuals that testified," Johnson said.

On the death penalty, Alexander said she would consult the community and chose not to give her personal opinion. Marlin said she would "respect any law that is on the book." Johnson said he was against it "as a black man," pointing to inequities in the justice system.

He tried to add to his comments later. "I want to pose a question," he said.

King said, "No, no. I pose the questions."

Last night, there were questions about crime, but they were mostly "I BACK JACK" into-a-corner questions. Evans was in Foggy Bottom where residents are still steaming about his initial approval of a plan to sell the West End Library and a fire station to a private developer. The vote was later rescinded.

Evans made this reference to that deal: "We had a little bit of a debacle last summer."

Silverman said Evans has the ability to get things done. "He certainly had the ability to sell off the library when no one was looking," he said.

That wasn't the only dig of the night as Silverman attacked Evans for having second employment and supporting large development projects, like Nationals Park and the Verizon Center.

But Silverman also had to come up with some answers about where he stands on gun control since his law firm represents Smith and Wesson. "I work for a big law firm. No secret about that," he said, adding that the difference between him and Evans is that he would quit his job.

Evans, who also is an attorney, used his now standard answer that he still works 80 hours a week on council business and his most important job is as a single father. He also gave a history lesson on how President Thomas Jefferson started the whole part-time politician thing because farmers tended to their fields and then did government business. Okay.

And now a crime question: Are there any streets in the ward where you wouldn't walk and why?

On Tuesday night that same question was asked and every Ward 7 candidate said no though Johnson said they had to look at some hotspots.

Evans said, "There is no street that I wouldn't go on and more importantly, no street that I haven't been on."

Silverman said no, then said he would tell his girlfriend to be cautious and then said "areas of Shaw" can be dicey.

By Nikita R Stewart  |  August 21, 2008; 9:36 AM ET
Categories:  2008 District Election , Nikita Stewart  
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