- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2020

More than 20 independent candidates are vying for the at-large seat on the D.C. Council being vacated by David Grosso.

Council member Robert White is expected to retain his at-large seat in November’s elections.

Here’s a brief look at five leading contenders based on fundraising, endorsements and political experience:

Ed Lazere. The former executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute is back on the campaign trail after losing to council Chairman Phil Mendelson in 2018.

The 56-year-old policy analyst has raised $493,000 and secured 37 endorsements, including D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine’s. Equity in education and housing are some of his top concerns, and he supports more funding for public schools and more investment in affordable housing. He also favors a permanent ban on evictions caused by the pandemic and more police budget cuts.

His campaign says: “D.C. voters should vote for Ed Lazere because of his 20-year track record as an advocate and budget expert at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. Ed has watched politicians protect the interest of corporate lobbyists, and he’s running to represent the interests of D.C. residents instead. He knows it takes (seven) votes for a bill to pass on [the council], and he has been counting to (seven) for important victories for D.C. residents for two decades. Ed is proud to be a progressive champion fighting for more affordable housing, a fair minimum wage, equitable education, sustainable energy and using the District’s budget as a moral document that reflects our values. Once elected, he will make bold changes to put racial and economic justice at the center of the council’s agenda.”

Vincent Orange. A former council member, Mr. Orange, 63, resigned before the end of his third term amid allegations of ethics violations for accepting a new job as president and CEO of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce after having lost his 2016 reelection bid. He left the Chamber of Commerce in June.

His campaign has raised $210,000 and received four endorsements, including the D.C. Association of Realtors’. It is aimed at boosting the economy rattled by the pandemic via “business interruption grants” and the establishment of a “Business Recovery Commission.”

His campaign says: “D.C. voters should vote for Vincent Orange #2 on the ballot because I provide mature experienced leadership, institutional knowledge and sound judgment to plan and execute the successful come-back of the District of Columbia for the benefit and general welfare of its citizens. As an elected official, Ward 5 Councilmember, At-Large Councilmember and D.C. Democratic National Committeeman, I worked with Mayor Anthony Williams and Chairwoman Linda Cropp to eliminate the Control Board and build a rainy-day fund which has helped the District financially survive the 2008 Great Recession, 2017 federal shutdown and now the coronavirus. Today, we shall define the ‘new normal in D.C.’ caused by coronavirus, civil unrest, and a severely damaged D.C. economy, and [come back] better and stronger together.”

Marcus Goodwin. The 30-year-old real estate developer is vying again for an at-large council seat after being defeated in 2018 by Anita Bonds.

Among his top priorities are expanding after-school programs and providing relief for businesses suffering due to the pandemic. He does not support more police budget cuts but says officers need more training and funds should be directed to entities that can better handle certain situations like mental health crisis’ or homelessness. Mr. Goodwin has raised $390,274 and garnered six endorsements, including Teamsters Local 639’s.

His campaign says: “Marcus is a practical bridge builder focused on delivering equitable community growth for residents. If elected, Marcus will fight to expand homeownership opportunities, bridge the education achievement gap, and create more good-paying jobs by improving our vocational training programs. Marcus is a D.C. native who has lived through these longstanding inequities and has feasible plans to improve the quality of life for all District residents, especially those with the greatest needs. Marcus puts people over politics.”

Christina Henderson. A 33-year-old staffer for Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Ms. Henderson is a first-time candidate running on a progressive platform that touts access and affordability in education, healthcare and housing.

She has raised $350,006 and received seven endorsements, including that of Mr. Grosso, for whom she has worked. She has supported more police budget cuts and has said it is too early to decide whether the coronavirus pandemic-related eviction moratorium should be extended through winter of 2021.

Her campaign says: “I have a commonsense approach to [policy making], embrace collaboration with stakeholders and communities, and possess a tireless commitment to equity. A trusted advisor to US Senators, D.C. councilmembers, and state and local education officials, I have experience fighting for policies to help working families and children not only here in DC, but also nationwide. As a staffer at the D.C. Council, I crafted and helped advance nearly 50 pieces of legislation on [an] array of issues from improving public schools to healthcare. My career has been guided by the principle that your zip code should not determine opportunity for success, and as a councilmember I will fight each and every day to make that a reality.”

Markus Batchelor. The 27-year-old is the vice president of the D.C. State Board of Education.

He has raised $184,000 and secured three endorsements, including the Washington Teachers Union’s. His top priorities include investing more in public schools, ending chronic homelessness, expanding rent control, and redirecting police funding to “other community-building” initiatives.

His campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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