WASHINGTON – Candidates for D.C. mayor are asking voters what values they want in a leader as they try to woo undecided residents in the final days before Tuesday’s general election.
“I want to ask them to come out and vote for me. I share their values, I’m going to build on our progress, and make sure more people enjoy it,” said Democratic candidate Muriel Bowser after talking to voters at the Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center earlier this week.
Bowser, who represents Ward 4 on the D.C. Council, won a spot on Tuesday’s ballot after defeating incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray during the April primary after new details about the alleged shadow campaign that helped Gray win his first term were revealed by prosecutors.
She faces fellow Councilman David Catania, a Republican-turned-independent who has served 17 years on the council, and another Republican-turned-independent, perennial candidate Carol Schwartz.
Other candidates on the ballot include Libertarian Bruce Majors, D.C. Green Faith, and independent Nestor Djonkam.
Polling in the race has generally shown Bowser with a plurality of support from likely voters, but not a majority, with Schwartz in a distant third.
“I have the most progressive record in this campaign and so that’s somewhat of the irony. I’m the person who championed marriage equality, and medical marijuana, and smoke-free D.C.,” Catania said outside the Foggy Bottom Metro station Friday morning. “People vote their values more than they vote labels, and when they look at my opponent they don’t see that same spirit of championing things that are going to make our city better.”
As a councilman, Catania has focused on healthcare, education and economic development. To demonstrate that his efforts have gotten results, he points to efforts to close the achievement gap and progress in the fight against HIV infections in the District.
Bowser says she would be a mayor that the city could be proud of. On economics, Bowser said she wants to grow the District’s middle class, revise job programs so more residents can find work, and she would “consistently” invest $100 million in affordable housing. She also wants to see “equal investment” in schools in all eight wards
“Here we’ve got all this money coming in in this boom town and we’re pushing out some of our longtime residents. And if we’re not pushing them out, we’re leaving them out,” Schwartz says. “I want to make sure that we keep our glorious diversity.”
Schwartz wants the District to do more to help the homeless, address affordable housing, and to provide drug and alcohol services for addicts.
Schwartz also hopes to take advantage of her name recognition from her other mayoral runs. And she says her years of public service – she was first elected to the Board of Education in the 1970s – make her the most experienced candidate.
Amid sly attacks on Bowser and Catania that would only be recognized by those most plugged in to D.C. politics, she also points to her own council record on the environment, roads and parking.
“(I) worked for our city and made it better, and I think right now as we go through this period of time where we need to do so much in the area of affordable housing and working on our vulnerable populations like the homeless, I think I’m the right person at the right time for this job, and I think people know and trust me,” Schwartz says.