DC mayoral candidates debate over Commanders, police

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and her Democratic rivals faced each other in a debate hosted by WAMU Wednesday, ahead of the District primary election next month.

Bowser and D.C. Council member Trayon White said they supported a plan to lure the Washington Commanders to the District and build the team a new stadium that would be located at the RFK Stadium site.

Council member Robert White said he was against the idea.

“I don’t think that we, unfortunately, in the District have enough land for a professional team,” Robert White argued, saying he thought a better plan would be to use the land to build affordable housing.

Bowser, who is seeking a third term in office, continued her call for a larger police force in the nation’s capital.

“We need the police that we need — not just for patrol, but for detectives and special task forces,” Bowser said.

Robert and Trayon White — who are not related — said they would rather see money for more police officers used for alternatives to policing, such as social service programs.

However, Trayon White agreed with Bowser who said that the D.C. Council should restore funding that it slashed for police officers in school buildings, known as school resource officers.

“I support school resource officers,” Trayon White said. “I’ve seen kids bringing guns to school and knives and weapons as early as middle school and elementary school, which I’ve never seen before.”

Robert White argued that police officers don’t belong in schools.

Bowser received criticism from both Robert and Trayon White for the practice of forcing homeless people to leave encampments around the city, clearing the encampments and offering to help people who live there find housing.

“The mayor’s approach has re-traumatized already traumatized people,” Robert White said.

“What I heard is that the council members would do nothing,” Bowser responded.

The fourth Democrat in the race, James Butler, did not appear in the debate because WAMU determined that he did not have enough support in the polls.

The primary election is set for June 21, with early voting starting June 10.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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