Saturday, September 26, 2020

Still Life with Robin: Who Are All These Candidates?

by Peggy Robin    

As it's almost October, when the DC government will start to mail out ballots to all registered voters, it's time to start thinking seriously about that council seat that's up for grabs. You know the one I'm talking about. It's the one with about a hundred people going for the same position. OK, I exaggerate. It's not really a hundred -- more like a couple of dozen. Maybe you've heard of some of them. Surely you’ve noticed the explosion of yard signs with their names, popping up everywhere over the past few weeks. But what do you really know about any of them? Not much beyond the name....if that.  

That's my situation, for sure. Yes, I know there was a Candidates Forum the other day. I could have tuned in via Zoom. Actually, it was one of three forums -- there were too many candidates for them all to appear at the same time. Call me lazy…but I just wasn't willing to invest the hours it would take to listen to so many candidates, each speaking in their little Zoom boxes, trying to win my vote. It’s just too much. ("OVERLOAD, Will Robinson, OVERLOAD. Cannot process!")   

Before I get into what I'm doing to find out who all these people are, I think I need to back up a bit, and explain how this At-Large Council race works:   

So, there are 24 people running for the two At-Large seats. But not really. The way the Council is set up, there's one At-Large seat reserved for a member of a "non majority party"– in other words, anything-but-a-Democrat. The other seat is already held by a Democrat, Robert White, and he's running for re-election. Unless there’s a stunning, totally-out-of-left-field upset in the works. Robert White holds a safe seat….meaning, there’s really only one seat in contention here, and 23 candidates who want it. Twenty of them are calling themselves "independents. There’s one Libertarian: Joseph Henchman (how's that for a sinister name?); one Statehood/Green Party person: Ann Wilcox; and one very lonely Republican: Marya Pickering.    

Who are all these people? To learn the basics about them, a good place to start is on the DC Geekery website, run by Keith Ivey, who is the very definition of a DC political geek. He loves to keep track of the details. On his site you will find all the candidates listed by name and party (or lack thereof), followed by a notation to indicate if they are using or seeking public financing for their campaign, and then a link to their websites and contact information.   

Next, to dip your toes a little deeper into the water, you might to move on to this story in the Washington Post, which identifies the four leading contenders, Ed Lazere, Marcus Goodwin, Christina Henderson, and Vincent Orange, Sr. -- and actually tells you a few substantive bits about each. There's a quick mention of two others, Markus Batchelor and Monica Palacio, each identified by positions they've held -- vice president of the DC State Board of Education and head of the DC Office of Human Rights, respectively -- and then the other 17 names are all bunched together in the very last sentence of the article, with nothing more said about any of them. See    

Still not enough to help you form an opinion? Maybe what you need to know is who likes which candidates – and by that I mean, who's endorsing whom. Washington City Paper can help you with that one:      

Now as to stands on our important local's where I run out of steam. I tried (not very hard, I’ll admit) to find an article or a grid showing a run-down on where these 24 candidates stand on the seven or eight major questions of the day, but didn’t find any good links to provide for you now. I suppose there will be a voter guide coming out closer to the election that will attempt to do so. It will certainly be a slog of a read.   

Let me close with something of more practical value in this election: The Washington Post's FAQ to voting in DC. Need to know something about registration deadlines? Mail-in voting? Ballot drop-off locations? Early voting? Or in-person voting on Election Day? You will find it here:    

Have a question that's not answered in the Post's DC Election FAQ? You could try the DC BOE website, but I say don’t bother. It's a jumble of poorly organized information, written in bad bureaucratese. Why not ask the CP Listserv? Its Hive Mind Knows All! (And doesn’t that make a good acronym? HiMiKAll (pronounced Hi-Mikall !).   

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.  

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