- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Jonathan R. Rees comes at you with big, bold appeals, in rat-a-tat-tat fashion, with a nothing-to-lose manner as he begins the long, uphill climb to unseat Ward 3 Council member Kathy Patterson next year.

The 50-year-old dental-company manager who lives in Glover Park has a two-word platform: tax cuts.

He thinks it is an idea whose time is long overdue in a city that burdens its residents with an onerous tax-and-spend philosophy.

“I did not want to run,” Mr. Rees says. “I was pushed into it. Everywhere I go in Ward 3, I hear the same concerns and regrets about Kathy Patterson.”

And Mr. Rees is not afraid to express what he hears: namely, that Mrs. Patterson is out of touch with her constituents, insensitive to their exploding property taxes and perceived to be the absentee council member often reduced to sending Penny Pagano, her chief of staff, to various functions in Ward 3.

Mr. Rees, who considers himself a fiscal conservative and social liberal, understands all too well why the city is bleeding people, why the city is becoming an oasis of the haves and have-nots, and why small-business owners and the middle class are seeking sanctuary in the suburbs.

The bureaucracy is bloated, the tax structure overbearing, and relief is merely a short trek away. Mr. Rees wants to pare the bureaucracy and provide tax relief to those sticking it out in the city.

“My plan is to let those people in D.C. government retire in the years ahead and not replace them,” he says.

He cites the usual numbers: 34,000 government workers in a city of 560,000. Baltimore, our larger sister city up the parkway, is able to conduct its municipal business with 15,000 city employees.

Ours, of course, is a city unlike any other because of the federal government. Still, as Mr. Rees notes, 34,000 city workers is a staggering figure, unjustifiable.

And don’t get Mr. Rees started on the uneven performance of public services. He has dealt with the monster on all too many occasions, only to end up nursing a strong dose of frustration.

Mr. Rees concedes he may be out of his element. He is no political insider. He has no political machine. And his challenge is daunting, as a political neophyte. He has started his campaign with old-fashioned shoe leather and the Internet.

He even has tapped into the various sections of craigslist.org, including the personals section, directing the lonely hearts of cyberspace to his Web site, www.rees-for-citycouncil.com.

He senses change in the D.C. political air, what with the ascent of Marion Barry, Vincent C. Gray and Kwame R. Brown to the D.C. Council in November.

And Mr. Rees insists that Mrs. Patterson is vulnerable to the charge of “Mrs. No-Show” in Ward 3, assuming she is inclined to seek re-election.

That is subject to speculation, along with every other position being contested in the next election season.

It seems nearly every political somebody is planning to run for mayor, with the conviction that Mayor Anthony A. Williams is not going to seek a third term.

Mr. Rees, being new to the game, is unfiltered, unguarded, uncensored. He has not mastered the nuances of the game yet. And his foray into the craigslist.org personals section is either Howard Dean to the next power or an amusing aside.

“I think I may have started a trend by going to the personals section to get the word out,” he says.

Mr. Rees has lived in the city since 1979; lived through the ups and downs; lived with the belief that one person can make a difference. It is time, he says. His time. Time for tax cuts galore.

He wants to cut personal income taxes by 15 percent, property taxes by 20 percent and then slash other means of taxation.

Can one person achieve all that on a legislative body of 13? That is a discussion for another day.

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