A Plan for Bold Action To Make DC a Fairer, Stronger City

All of DC will be strengthened when everyone is able to live up to their potential. Together, let’s make DC a stronger, fairer city we can all be proud to call our home.

Creating the Tools to Develop and Advance Bold Policy Solutions

Elections are about choices, and that’s why it’s important for campaigns to advance bold ideas. In addition to the policy platform I outline below, I believe it is critical for us as a city to think of creative and equitable solutions to the problems we face. That’s why I want to take the steps necessary to enhance the capacity of the DC Council to make smart choices that will create a fairer and stronger DC.

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Create a DC Council Policy Oversight and Research Shop: Unlike most state legislatures, the Council has no entity dedicated to play a policy research role. This is important to assessing mayoral policy proposals and to developing Council legislative proposals based on what has been shown to work in other communities. I will create a central policy shop to support the work of all 13 Councilmembers.
  • Require a Racial Equity Impact Assessment of All Major Proposals: Promoting racial and ethnic equity will take proactive steps. I will require that the Council conduct a racial equity impact analysis of every legislative proposal to ensure that we develop policies that attack the root causes of inequity and avoid policies that unintentionally widen inequities.

Making DC Affordable for All

Affordable housing is the foundation of stable families and communities. DC’s historic influx of new residents and new development, while welcomed in many ways, has displaced thousands of families who once sent their children to local schools, kept church pews full, and wove a fabric of life that made the District a hometown for many.

The disappearance of lower-cost housing threatens the stability of far too many DC  families -- and DC’s future. We need to preserve and create affordable housing so that all residents can continue to call DC home, and so that families can give their children the stability needed to thrive.

The District’s investments in affordable housing, while increased in recent years, are still not enough to meet the need, and only a small fraction goes to the lowest-income families who most require help.

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Double DC’s Housing Programs: I will greatly expand the investment in DC’s programs to create and preserve affordable housing, and build affordable housing in every ward.
  • Strengthen Rent Control: I will move legislation to limit rent increases to inflation, to limit rent increases on vacant units, and to close loopholes used by predatory landlords.
  • Defend Tenant Rights: I will defend the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) to keep longtime DC renters from being forced out of their homes.
  • Support our Public Housing: I will support at  least $25 million annually for repair and maintenance of public housing that has been neglected by the federal government. 

Ending Homelessness

In a city as prosperous as DC, it is shameful that we allow thousands of our neighbors to go without a safe, permanent place to live. DC has the unfortunate status of having the highest rate of homelessness among major U.S. cities.

We can and should do more. We know what to do to make homelessness “rare, brief, and non-recurring,” yet our leaders have not fully implemented it. So it has become the new normal to see residents whose only home is a tent.

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Fund DC’s Plan to End Homelessness: I will fight for full funding and implementation of the “Homeward DC” plan to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.
  • Make DC’s Shelters More Humane:  I will work to improve the quality of the District’s shelters so that residents experiencing short-term homelessness have a decent and safe place to stay.

Creating a Fair Economy

I am committed to putting the needs of working families and small businesses first. Our local businesses deserve a level playing field. And everyone should be able to earn a living wage that allows them to take care of their families. Yet, ten years into our economic recovery, we continue to leave too many residents behind. In particular, many Black and Brown-owned businesses are struggling to succeed, and the unemployment gap between Black and white residents is growing. And too often, jobs in DC pay too little to make ends meet: endagering the workers who care for our children, serve us at restaurants, and build our housing and commercial buildings.

I am proud to have fought with allies on behalf of small businesses and working families, for tax fairness, a higher minimum wage, paid family leave, and protecting working people against discrimination and wage theft. We need to continue to strengthen our small businesses and protect working families and make opportunities available to all DC residents.

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Implement Paid Family Leave: Just as I advocated for a strong paid family and medical leave program and fought to protect it, I will ensure that the new program is implemented effectively and on time.
  • Support Local Businesses:  I will support small, locally-owned businesses, through a small business property tax credit and ways to improve access to capital.
  • Support Black- and Brown-owned Businesses:  Wide wealth inequities mean too many Black and Brown residents lack resources to start a business. Currently, small businesses in gentrifying neighborhoods, many owned by people of color, are at risk of getting pushed out.  I will work to support both existing businesses and emerging business owners.
  • Champion Full Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers: Tipped workers in DC earn just $3.33 plus tips, leaving many struggling to make ends meet and often forcing women servers to tolerate abuse to protect tips. I support the June 19 ballot initiative to raise wages for tipped workers, so they earn the full minimum wage plus tips.
  • Support Fair Scheduling: I will push for legislation to help retail and restaurant workers manage their lives -- child care, night school, etc -- by requiring large employers to give out work schedules at least two weeks in advance.
  • Prioritize DC Residents:  I will work to give residents preference for DC government jobs and work with businesses to hire and mentor DC residents. I will make sure all DC government construction projects result in good jobs for DC residents.
  • Enforce Labor Laws:  People who work hard should be paid what they are owed, but too often working people are victims of wage theft. I will push to educate working people about their rights and support strong enforcement of labor laws.

Supporting our Children

Our children deserve schools that will let them reach their full potential, no matter which zip code they live in. We need a Council Chair who demands transparency and accountability, so we can leave the current scandals behind and instead focus on giving all students a high-quality education and addressing DC’s tremendous education inequities.

I raised two sons through DC public schools, where I learned that parents have to fight for their children’s education. I spent the past decade fighting not only for my sons’ schools but also to make sure all DC schools get the resources they need. I chaired a 2012  Public Education Finance Reform Commission that led to sweeping improvements in how schools are funded -- calling for better funding for all schools as well as targeted additional funding to help students facing challenges like poverty. And I’ve helped lead advocacy efforts resulting in substantial increases in resources for schools through the DC budget process.

To make sure that getting a good education doesn’t depend on winning the school lottery, as Council Chair, I will:

  • Support All Schools: I believe we need a strong matter-of-right public school in every neighborhood, along with a strong network of public charter schools. I will lead efforts for more active collaboration between the two sectors.
  • Improve Accountability: I will work on ways to improve transparency, data access,  and oversight of both DCPS and public charter schools. This will enable parents, the Council, and other stakeholders to have the information they need to hold leaders accountable for improving schools.
  • Give All Schools the Resources They Need: I will call for a regular review of what DC Public Schools and Public Charter Schools really need to succeed, and then fight for that funding.
  • Take on Achievement Inequities: I will work to protect “at-risk” funds for high-poverty schools, so these can provide services to address the challenges low-income students face. And I will work to make sure every DC school has a mental health professional whose only job is to support children.
  • Bring Greater Fairness to the Lottery: I will review the lottery and school assignment process to support stable schools that are economically and racially diverse
  • Expand Language Opportunities for All Students. I will support the Language Access for Education Act so residents are no longer denied an adequate education and access to information on DC services in the language they need. I will also support the expansion of Language Immersion programs in our schools, an increasingly popular school model that promotes diversity, inclusion, and understanding.
  • Invest in our Youngest Children: I will create a comprehensive plan for supporting families with young children (birth to three), including high-quality child care, home visiting services, and supports for children with developmental delays.
  • Universal Summer and After-School: I will work to make sure every child has access to exciting and meaningful after-school and summer enrichment opportunities. 

Promoting Fair Development that Serves All Communities

At a time of rapid development spreading across the District, residents must have a say on the kind of development coming to their community.  We need equitable development that benefits everyone. That means affordable housing in all 8 wards and neighborhood-serving businesses in every community, including bringing new grocery and retail options to Wards 7 and 8. We need to invest in jobs for DC residents, not give billions in subsidies to corporations like Amazon.

The process to update DC’s Comprehensive Plan, which will shape DC’s development for a decade, has been so poorly managed that it has generated a tremendous amount of distrust. The proposed Comp Plan does not put affordable housing at the top of its priorities, and many residents are concerned that the proposal puts the interests of developers ahead of residents. We need to go back to square one and re-engage all stakeholders to develop a Comp Plan that prioritizes affordable housing, and supports the city’s growing population and housing demand, while also giving residents confidence that their voice will be heard in these decisions.  

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Ensure Comp Plan Maintains Resident Voice:  I will make sure DC’s Comprehensive Plan prioritizes affordable housing and supports population and housing growth while protecting the voice and role of the community in land-use decisions.
  • No Amazon Giveaway--Fight for Transparency and a Good Deal for DC Residents: I am calling on the current Council Chair to hold a hearing on the Mayor’s offer to Amazon. Like our Maryland neighbors, we deserve to know if the Mayor is offering billions of subsidies, and what Amazon would do for DC in return, so residents can weigh in on the deal.
  • Better Grocery Options in Ward 7 and 8: I will make sure DC’s economic development energy and resources focus on bringing new grocery stores, and other retail, to Wards 7 and 8.
  • Hold Subsidized Developers Accountable: I will require that any developer receiving subsidies from DC hire DC residents and pay good wages and benefits.

Making Communities Safe without Mass Incarceration

DC residents deserve to be safe in their homes and in public spaces. The good news is that falling crime rates mean that DC is safer than ever for many. Yet, some communities still face unacceptably high rates of violence and crime, and many residents still feel unsafe in their own homes.

We should not try to arrest our way to public safety. The Council has already passed and funded the NEAR Act, which takes a public health approach to violence prevention. It now needs to be implemented in partnership with community groups on the ground working to end violence, in general, and gendered/domestic violence, in particular.

DC also needs to invest in domestic violence prevention education in every school, with programming on consent and building healthy relationships. Most importantly, we must ensure that every DC resident has a safe place to call home and access to emergency shelter and supportive resources when violence is occuring within the home.

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Support the NEAR Act:  I will work to ensure that the NEAR Act is fully and transparently implemented. This includes supporting the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, developing community engagement plans, improving data collection on police use of force, and calling for collaboration among DC government agencies on a comprehensive community safety plan.
  • Improve Oversight of Police: I will strengthen the Office of Police Complaints by giving them the authority to discipline officers when a complaint is sustained, so that we increase the confidence of residents that bad actors will be held accountable.
  • Prevent and Address Domestic Violence: I will promote education in every DC school to prevent partner violence and support the expansion of emergency housing for victims of violence.
  • Stop Criminalizing Poverty:  I will work to reform criminal justice enforcement that overly targets residents of color and youth in low-income communities for infractions such as Metro fare evasion and marijuana use.
  • End the Incarceration of Sex Workers: I will decriminalize sex work in the District so that those engaged in survival sex can be supported rather than jailed.
  • Fully Legalize Marijuana: I support complete legalization of marijuana (possessing small amounts) to limit unnecessary arrests of people of color who are consistently targeted. I also support the taxation and regulation of marijuana to help generate revenue we can reinvest in our communities. 

Helping Returning Citizens Re-integrate

People convicted of felonies in DC are sent to federal Bureau of Prisons facilities far away from DC, separating them from their families. And every year, thousands are released without housing, employment, or transportation.

DC must do more to address the terrible impacts of federal control of felony prisoners to ensure that DC residents receieve crucial supports to re-integrate upon return.

  • Strengthen the Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizens: I will work to expand this very small office and increase support for community-based groups that help returning citizens.
  • Support Citizens When They Return:  I will work to create a comprehensive set of supports for returning citizens, including housing, transportation, mental health care, and employment.
  • Support Entrepreneurship Among Returning Citizens: I will fund the Incarceration to Incorporation Entrepreneurship Program.
  • Push the Federal Government to Be a Better Partner: I will push  the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to follow the law requiring that residents with felony convictions serve their prison terms as close to DC as possible, so that family contact can be maintained.  And I will push to have the federal government return parole decisions back to local control. The U.S. Parole Commission that has governed DC parole has a history of harsh decisions that have contributed to DC’s extremely high rate of incarceration.

Making Immigrants Safe and Welcome

The District's vibrant economy and culture are in no small measure due to the many immigrants that call this area their home. We are proud to be one of the most multicultural and multilingual cities in the nation. We should stand together to oppose the recent hostile actions by the Trump administration that are threatening immigrant communities.

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Improve Language Access to Education and Services: I will work to pass the Language Access for Education Act. Language access for immigrants is a hallmark of an inclusive government. The hold-up of this bill means that many residents are being denied an adequate education and access to information about DC services.
  • Support Immigrant Health Care: I will work to eliminate administrative barriers that keep thousands of immigrants from maintaining enrollment for health care coverage through the Healthcare Alliance Program.
  • Protect Immigrant Safety: I will work to protect immigrants facing threats from the federal government, including providing more funding to defend the legal rights of immigrants and resisting ICE deportation efforts.
  • Establish voting rights for non-citizen permanent residents:  All permanent DC residents deserve a voice in local elections and in their government.

Supporting Our Seniors

DC should do everything it can to address the needs of older residents. Too many seniors in DC live in isolation, in part due to limited transportation options. Having to live on a low or fixed income can result in a higher risk of hunger, as well as housing that is unaffordable.

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Reach Out to Isolated Seniors: I support improving outreach to seniors who are isolated to inform them of available services and connect them.
  • Support Transportation for Seniors: I will work to strengthen transportation options, such as Seabury Connector, to help seniors get to appointments and wellness centers.
  • Fight Senior Hunger:  One in six older DC residents is at risk of hunger. I will work to invest in food security for seniors, including home-delivered meals and meals at senior centers.
  • Improve Health and Well-being of Seniors in Their Homes: I will work to improve access to in-home services through DC’s Medicaid waiver (EPD), which allows seniors to live independently in the community instead of in institutions.
  • Support Affordable Housing: Like other groups, many seniors face the growing challenge of finding affordable housing. In addition to strengthening rent control, I will work to ensure that DC’s housing programs support housing devoted to seniors, particularly LGBTQ seniors.

Ensuring Equitable Access for People with Disabilities

While the U.S. Census Bureau reports there are nearly 57 million Americans with disabilities—about one in five of our neighbors, coworkers, and family members — their ability to live, work, and thrive in DC is not being achieved. People with disabilities deserve equitable access to education, housing, transportation, and employment opportunities in the District. I support the adoption of universal design and independent living principles for all people with disabilities. 

As Council Chair, I will  

  • Defend Fair Employment. Preemptively ban segregated, subminimum wage employment and improve DC's vocational rehabilitation services so people with disabilities can use their skills to obtain, maintain, and advance in employment opportunities.
  • Strengthen Support for Schools. Improve our school system so teachers, students, and family members so that students with disabilities can receive access to high-quality education in their least restrictive environment within DCPS, instead of being sent to schools outside of our city, and so people with disabilities and their family members have access to information about their rights in the school system.
  • Make Metro More Accessible. Work with Metro's Board of Directors to improve public transportation options for people with disabilities, including shorter elevator outages with improved access to shuttle bus service during those times, accessible station stop announcements at all stations, and a more efficient paratransit system.
  • Expand Affordable Housing. Increase accessible, affordable housing options across all eight wards.
  • Make Good on Our Commitments. Fulfill the full promise of the unanimously passed Disability Services Reform Amendment Act of 2018, which ends mandatory civil commitment of people with intellectual disabilities and recognizes Supported Decision-Making as a statutory alternative to guardianship.

Restoring and Protecting the Environment for a Healthy City and a Strong Economy

A good quality of life in DC depends on making sure our water and air are clean, our homes are free of pesticides and lead poisoning, and our neighborhoods are green and livable. We also can create a greener and more sustainable city by helping residents grow food in their neighborhoods. Finally, we must take responsibility and do our part to reduce carbon emissions to help save our city, and the planet, from the worst impacts of climate change.

As we work for a cleaner and better environment, we should help DC residents take advantage of the growing green economy and associated jobs. We also must make sure that environmental policies focus on low-income communities of color, which often face the worst environmental conditions, and include provisions that help low-income residents transition to clean energy. We can and should promote environmental, racial, and economic justice at the same time. 

As DC Council Chair, I will:

  • Support Transition to Clean Energy: I support efforts to move toward 50% clean energy by 2050 -- and ideally 100% -- including implementing a carbon fee and rebate program, developing innovative ways to expand solar energy, and upgrading our energy infrastructure for the future.
  • Move to Reduce Solid Waste: I will work to make the District a zero-waste city by supporting strategies that reduce, reuse and, recycle the materials we use to live our lives. Doing this will help reduce the trash and other waste that litters our neighborhoods, the Anacostia River, and the rest of our waterways. This includes strategies such as creating financial incentives to reduce trash, expanding composting to include restaurants and apartment buildings, reducing food waste, and recycling more electronics. This will help raise DC's currently low rate of recycling to the Sustainable DC goal of 80%.
  • Make DC Government a Role Model:  I will work to make District buildings energy and water efficient. I will also make sure the DC Council and mayoral operations in the Wilson Building set a high standard for sustainability. 
  • Improve Utility Infrastructure: I will work to make sure our water and energy utilities are doing their part to modernize their operations and move away from traditional, old-fashioned and expensive infrastructure. I will encourage these utilities to promote green infrastructure and expand programs focused on increasing affordable, clean, and renewable energy.
  • Work to Make Our Rivers and Creeks Fishable and Swimmable: We should maintain strong standards and keep making progress in reducing the amount of raw sewage and polluted stormwater that make its way into our rivers. We need to fix the Clean River Impervious Area Charge that is falling heavily on low-income families, churches, and nonprofits.  All District residents deserve water without raw sewage and should not be unfairly burdened by the cost of river cleanup. 

Protecting LGBTQ Residents

The District is a leader in LGBTQ rights, but much remains to be done to make sure all LGBTQ people in DC feel safe and supported. Hate violence against LGBTQ people continues to be a too-often occurrence, particularly against trans women of color. Too many LGBTQ youth end up on the street after coming out to family and friends, and too many LGBTQ seniors live in isolation.

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Protect the Safety of LGBTQ residents:  I will work to push the Metropolitan Police Department to collect better data on crimes with LGBTQ victims so we can assess trends and develop appropriate responses. I support legislation to reduce police mistreatment of LGBTQ residents by giving the Office of Police Complaints full access to information on  police encounters with residents and giving that office the authority to recommend and implement disciplinary actions against police officers who violate MPD policy.
  • End the Incarceration of Sex Workers: I support decriminalizing sex work so that people are not jailed for engaging in survival sex, many of them LGBTQ. Instead of jail, the District should engage in outreach to sex workers and do more to provide services that will help them stabilize their lives (housing, mental health services, addiction recovery, etc).
  • Invest in Better Health Care for LGBTQ People: While DC has made progress in addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis, more remains to be done.  There are still too many residents who do not know their status or who are HIV-positive and not receiving care.  Most are residents of color and many are trans. I support more vigorous outreach to increase access to pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis.  We also need to do more to ensure that residents who are diagnosed with HIV are getting care; nearly one-fourth are not.
  • Improve Services for Homeless LGBTQ Youth: More than 40 percent of homeless youth in DC identify as LGBTQ. I will work to fully fund DC’s youth homelessness plan and to ensure that culturally competent services are available for homeless youth who are LGBTQ.
  • Improve Services for LGBTQ Seniors:  Many seniors in DC live in isolation, and this is especially true for LGBTQ seniors. I will support outreach to seniors and investments in food assistance and affordable housing, including housing targeted to LGBTQ seniors.
  • Improve Economic Opportunity for LGBTQ Residents:  I will work to support efforts to improve the economic well being of LGBTQ residents, through fighting discrimination and supporting employment and other social services. The District can do more to enforce workplace discrimination protections, more strategically, and to support efforts to make all workplaces supportive of trans workers.

Championing Women’s and Reproductive Rights

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care: I will ensure everyone has access to reproductive healthcare and stand up to Republicans in Congress if they attempt to interfere with a person’s right to choose.
  • End the Incarceration of Sex Workers: I support decriminalizing sex work so that people are not jailed for engaging in survival sex, many of them LGBTQ. Instead of jail, the District should engage in outreach to sex workers and do more to provide services that will help them stabilize their lives (housing, mental health services, addiction recovery, etc).
  • Prevent and Address Domestic Violence: I will promote education in every DC school to prevent partner violence, and support the expansion of emergency housing for victims of violence. And I will work to address the specific needs of the many women who become homeless as a result of domestic violence.

Making Health Care High-Quality, Accessible, and Affordable

One of the richest communities in the nation shouldn't have the wide disparities in health we see in DC. The District has unacceptably high rates of childhood asthma, maternal mortality among women of color, and HIV/AIDS.

The District needs to ensure all residents have access to high-quality health care. That should start with adequately supporting United Medical Center, our only acute care hospital east of the River, and addressing the loss of obstetric care for women in Wards 7 and 8. Across the city, we need to hold all hospitals accountable to high standards, including requiring all hospitals to have adequate nurse staffing levels.

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Support United Medical Center: I will work to create a plan to provide adequate care at UMC.  A hospital east of the river deserves regular support, rather than routinely moving from crisis to crisis and from manager to manager.
  • Ensure Adequate Nurse Staffing at All DC Hospitals:  I will work to adopt the Patient Protection Act to ensure that all hospitals have the nursing levels needed to provide high-quality patient care.
  • Improve Access to Health Care for Immigrants: I will work to eliminate administrative barriers that keep thousands of immigrants from maintaining enrollment for health care coverage through the Healthcare Alliance program.
  • Strengthen Home Visiting: Home visiting programs for pregnant women and families with young children can support vulnerable families by identifying family needs, connecting families to services, and supporting parenting skills. Home visiting programs help our youngest children develop healthfully and result in long-term savings, yet DC’s home visiting programs only reach a fraction of eligible families. I will work to strengthen and expand these programs. 

Making it Easier for Residents to Get Around

Making it Easier for Residents to Get Around

As the District population continues to grow, we must invest in high-quality and affordable public transportation, as well as safe options for bicyclists and pedestrians. DC needs a robust set of transit options

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Protect dedicated revenues for Metro. It is encouraging that Maryland, Virginia, and the District have come to an agreement to invest in Metro’s future with dedicated funding of $500 million a year.  I support Mayor Bowser’s proposal to fund DC’s added Metro commitment through a mixture of revenue sources that fall on both businesses and residents, as opposed to the prior proposal to rely entirely on a 1 percent sales tax, which would have fallen most heavily on low-income residents.
  • Expand the number of dedicated bus lanes. Dedicated bus lanes should be completed for the 16th Street rush hour transit improvement project, as well as for H ST NW downtown, once DDOT has worked with affected stakeholders to reconcile potential conflicts.
  • Invest to create more protected bike lanes. The priorities for bike lanes should be expanding protected bike lanes whenever possible, rather than simply striping a bike lane, and completing the Metropolitan Branch Trail.
  • Support the extension of the streetcar to Benning Road and ultimately to Georgetown. DC should continue with plans to extend to streetcar to Benning Road, where tracks have been laid already, to see how a streetcar that connects the two neighborhoods will work. Once that is completed, the plans to extend the streetcar to Georgetown should move forward.

 

Promoting Fair Elections

At its core, fair elections are about empowering the people who live and vote here. By matching small donations, Fair Elections will make running for office viable for a wider and more diverse group of candidates, and it will encourage more DC voters to donate, knowing that their donation will not be dwarfed by large corporations and wealthy individuals living outside the District.

My campaign is only accepting contributions from individuals. That means I'm taking no corporate or PAC contributions, and I commit to participating in the public financing process once Fair Elections is implemented in 2020.

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Protect the Fair Elections Act: I will work to protect Fair Elections funding in time for the 2020 election cycle.
  • Prevent Pay to Play Politics: I support legislation to prohibit businesses that make campaign contributions from seeking government contracts or grants for at least two years after the contribution to avoid any appearance or actual occurrence of pay-to-pay politics.
  • Support Voting Rights of Non-Citizens: I support extending voting rights for non-citizen permanent residents.
  • Extend Voting Rights to Age 16: I support legislation to change the voting age to 16, a practice that has been shown to greatly increase lifelong voting habits.

Fighting for Statehood

DC deserves to be the 51st state in the Union, with full rights to self-determination and full representation in Congress.

As Council Chair, I will:

  • Fight for Statehood: I will stand with DC residents to demand our right to become a state.
  • Bring Criminal Justice System to Local Control: I will work to bring DC’s criminal justice system under local control. This will simplify the administration of criminal justice, and allow the District to bring its residents serving prison terms closer to home.