Thursday, August 24, 2006

Vincent B. Orange Sr. says that, as D.C. mayor, he would measure the success of his administration by how well the public school system performs.

“I want you to hold me responsible, and if you’re going to talk to someone about education, you come to Vincent Orange,” he said during an interview at The Washington Times.

Mr. Orange, who represents Ward 5 on the D.C. Council, is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor in the Sept. 12 primary.

His plan for improving public education calls for the mayor to have full control of the schools, including the power to hire and fire the superintendent, who would be a member of his Cabinet.

Under his plan, the school board — which currently has elected and appointed officials — would serve as an advisory panel with no authority to implement policy.

“We’ve done a good job on technology, [but] the school system is still hanging behind. They have procurement problems, security problems,” he said. “We need to have one person in charge.”

The school system currently operates independently of the mayor and the council, and a charter amendment would be required for the mayor to take control of the schools.

Other components of Mr. Orange’s schools plan include focusing on early childhood education, raising reading standards and developing technical schools.

“My fundamental campaign position is that I’m running to connect the three Es,” he said. “I’m running to connect education to employment to economic development.”

Mr. Orange spent considerable time criticizing his primary rivals, especially council Chairman Linda W. Cropp and fellow council member Adrian M. Fenty.

He said that one of the key differences between himself and other candidates is that he is the only one who recognizes that the city’s economic development has occurred according to a 40-point plan called “The Economic Resurgence of Washington, D.C.” and developed by the city council in 1998.

Many of the plan’s points have been implemented, and now “we need to bring in the citizens” to participate in the economic renewal, he said.

“The economic resurgence has occurred, and now it’s the citizens’ plan for prosperity,” Mr. Orange said. “We need to go back now and educate our children, make sure we are connecting D.C. residents to D.C. jobs that are being created and also provide business opportunities. Now we are using the revenue that’s being created from the strong foundation that we have and bring the citizens back into it.”

Saying that D.C. officials “need to think outside the box” about economics and city planning, Mr. Orange said that he would propose building a new D.C. Jail next to Metropolitan Police headquarters at 300 Indiana Ave. NW.

“You could build a tunnel directly to the [U.S.] District Court and another tunnel to D.C. Superior Court, and then you can have night court and cut down on your transportation costs [of inmates],” he said.

Mr. Orange also said that he would put more police officers on the streets, explaining that a key part of improving the economy involves creating a safe environment for residents, commuters and tourists.

“At any given point of time I believe we have 2 million people in this city. I figure we need 5,400 officers,” he said, adding that a significant portion of the 3,800 officers currently on the force work at desk jobs.

Mr. Orange said that he would keep emergency medical services under the control of the fire department but would propose a plan to put a paramedic on every fire truck.

“If I was to have a heart attack, I would need treatment in eight minutes. I know a fire truck would be here in six minutes and that the ambulance would take 13 minutes,” he said. “I don’t want you to call an ambulance, I want you to call a fire truck. They are going to be here in six minutes.

“But the issue is — what is on that fire truck? I need a paramedic to sustain me until the ambulance gets here,” he said.

Mr. Orange said that he would maintain good relationships with national leaders in trying to make statehood for the District a reality.


Candidate for D.C. mayor

Born: April 11, 1957, in Oakland, Calif.

Residence: Brookland/Michigan Park, Ward 5

Religion: African Methodist Episcopal

Party affiliation: Democrat

Education: Bachelor of science degree, University of the Pacific, Stockton, Calif.; bachelor of arts degree, University of the Pacific; law degree, Howard University; master of law degree, Georgetown University Law Center

Career highlights: Lawyer and certified public accountant; elected as D.C. Council member, 1998

Family: Wife Gwendolyn Evans-Orange; two sons, Vincent Jr. and Paul; daughter Jannie

Source: Orange mayoral campaign

The Washington Times

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