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The Playground Platform At Pepco

The seven candidates for two at-large seats on the D.C. Council have been crisscrossing the city to attend forums of neighborhood associations, advisory neighborhood commissions and various nonprofits.

Today, six of them stopped at Pepco's downtown offices where employees munched on pizza, popcorn and cotton candy and got an earful of the candidates' views on school reform, the city budget and playgrounds. Playgrounds?

Beverly Perry, senior vice president for government affairs and public policy, was the moderator and one of her questions was whether the candidates were for playgrounds.

It's kind of like, I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Everyone was for playgrounds.

The candidates, however, differed on some other issues, offering various ways to trim the city's budget.

Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large), hoping to stay in her seat through a write-in campaign, said she would target earmarks. She said council members act like "the godfather" by using the money in the way they want.

Meanwhile newcomer Patrick Mara, who defeated Schwartz in the Republican Party, drew laughs when he said a fresh set of eyes could identify areas that need cutting. "We can find all the bodies that the council members have been burying year after year after year," he said.

Independent Michael A. Brown said whatever he did, he would not automatically fire city employees since their incomes stimulate the economy. He said he would consider raising taxes on items, such as cigarettes and alcohol.

Statehood Green David Schwartzman continued to say he would raise taxes on the wealthiest residents in the city. "They can afford to forgo a new Lexus this year," he said.

Candidates Kwame R. Brown, the incumbent Democrat; and independent Mark Long also attended. Independent Dee Hunter was not there.

Most of the chairs in an auditorium were filled. Pepco went all out with red, white and blue decorations. One employee was dressed like Uncle Sam.

Perry said in an interview that the company holds such events to keep employees informed. But she could not recall previously hosting a political forum. "This is because it's a hotly contested race," she said. "We tell the employees policy makers make decisions that affect their quality of life in the workplace. That's code for your paycheck."

About 200 District residents work in the downtown offices on 9th Street NW.

By Nikita R Stewart  |  October 29, 2008; 3:32 PM ET
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