Yes, that’s right, I’m voting for Elissa Silverman in today’s election for at-large DC Councilmember. And here’s why.
For years, Silverman has worked as an investigative reporter in DC, first at the Washington City Paper and then at the Post. She has the research know-how to arrive at her own policy stances by delving into the issues. Her most recent job, as an analyst at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, has further honed her relentless approach to data-driven action. Endorsed by Greater Greater Washington, and firmly supportive of affordable housing, smart growth, and investments in 4-wheel, 2-wheel, and two-legged modes of transportation, she’s the true urban progressive on this ballot.
However, that’s not to say that others running in this election don’t have equally strong credentials.
Matthew Frumin, a lawyer and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner from deep Northwest, could be considered the catalyst in overhauling Wilson High School. Frumin also scored highest on the majority of the questions posed to candidates by Let’s Choose DC. Patrick Mara is an interesting choice solely by virtue of his Rupublican affiliation, but he’s also made a name for himself as an education reform advocate on the DC Board of Education. Anita Bonds is a DC politics lifer, and there’s something to be said about institutional knowledge and understanding how the sausage is made. Perry Redd is a reinvented man whose life story directly informs his policy views. Last but not least, let’s not forget Paul Zukerberg. His campaign’s single-issue focus on marijuana decriminalization highlights a stance that District residents already support overwhelmingly.
With all the recent legal troubles of DC Councilmembers, though, this campaign isn’t just about standard policy issues. It’s about ethics. On this topic, Elissa Silverman stands above the rest.
The vast majority of Elissa Silverman’s campaign funding hasn’t come from corporations or unions or herself, but from individual voters like you and me. Bonds, Mara, and Frumin have all taken campaign contributions from corporations. Anita Bonds has even retained her job at a major city pavement contractor as she’s filled in on the Council as an interim member. Last week the DC Office of Campaign Finance opened an inquiry into Patrick Mara’s fundraising activities back in 2008. While Zukerberg and Redd received no corporate money, significant portions of their war chests came from personal contributions. When she wins, Silverman is not going to be on the hook to deliver any favors to special interests.
Finally, there’s the whole issue of disclosing tax returns, which was brought up at the WCP’s Loose Lips debate on April 15. I covered the matter extensively, and Patrick Mara’s campaign even blocked me on Twitter afterward (although correlation may not equal causation). The bottom line is that Elissa Silverman released her documents as she promised. Frumin did the same a day later, but no one has followed suit since then. Reddit user poobly summed up the issue perfectly, when he said,
[Candidates] don’t have to release, just like I don’t have to vote for them. People who are honest and transparent are more likely to release their returns. Honesty and transparency are also qualities I value in an elected official.
I agree that candidates don’t have to release their financial details. Poobly and I will just vote for the ones who do, because by sharing financial information, a candidate is showing that they value transparency–something that Poobly and me, as voters, also value.
Over the past weekend, Silverman’s campaign contacted Frumin about dropping out of the race to prevent splitting the electorate. This move was routine campaign jockeying at worst, and hardly an ethical transgression of any sort. Candidates talk to each other in every election. They even dropout of elections, too (see Brown, Michael A). This at-large race is no different.
Overall, my vote is for Elissa Silverman. Her strong policy background, disconnect from special interests, and emphasis on transparency make her an ideal candidate for the DC Council. What’s more, I just want my representatives in the Wilson Building to make good choices—in government and in life. I think Elissa Silverman can do that and then some.