Rising homicides remain central in race for DC mayor

The primary election in D.C. is less than three weeks away, and rising homicide numbers were a central issue as Democratic candidates running for mayor met to debate Wednesday.

Mayor Muriel Bowser, who is seeking a third term in office, used the Fox 5 debate to continue her call for more police officers on the streets.

“I’m going to make the tough calls when it comes to violent crime, including making sure we have the police that we need,” Bowser said.

Bowser’s opponents, D.C. Council members Robert White and Trayon White, called for more investments in alternatives to traditional policing. Robert White and Trayon White are not related.

“I’m going to expand and coordinate our violence intervention programs to meet the need of the problem,” Robert White said. “If our goal is to keep people safe, we have got to prevent more crimes.”

Trayon White had a similar message.

“We need the police, but police is not the end-all solution,” Trayon White said. “My plan is not just to increase the police, but create better housing, mental health services, substance abuse and wraparound services.”

Homicides have been trending upward for the past four years in the District and they are up again this year 7% when compared to the same period of time in 2021.

Bowser accused her opponents of supporting efforts to reduce funding to the police department in 2020.

“We know what they chose to do was serve an ideology and not the residents of the District of Columbia,” Bowser said.

The candidates touched on affordable housing, with Robert White drawing boos from the crowd when he suggested that the RFK Stadium site be used for housing instead of a potential location for a new Washington Commanders stadium.

“We’re watching massive displacement, particularly people of color moved from our city,” Robert White said. “A stadium necessarily takes land that could be used for housing, and if anybody believes that housing is going to be affordable next to a professional football stadium they are fooling themselves.”

Both Bowser and Trayon White have said they support a plan to lure the Commanders to the site.

The fourth Democrat in the race, James Butler, was ruled out of the debate for not meeting established criteria, a decision he fought unsuccessfully in court.

Voting has already started, but the primary election is set for June 21.

Nick Iannelli

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

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