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Council members list their priorities for 2001
(Published January 22, 2001)
By KRISTEN FORBES
As D.C. City Council begins a new legislative session – with some new committee assignments and even a new member in Ward 4 Councilman Adrian Fenty – The Common Denominator decided to ask council members what issues they plan to focus their efforts on this year. What follows is an overview of the responses we received.
WARD 1 Councilman Jim Graham plans to reexamine the human rights bill, as well as have oversight of the city’s Latino affairs office, as he has been named chairman of both of these committees.
"We want to focus on the same thing that has been plaguing us in 2000," said Denise Wiktor, Graham’s executive assistant.
While there will be a "push for legislation" in regards to lead poisoning in the ward, Wiktor also explained that nuisance properties, slumlords and a reintroduction of the ban on pit bulls would be priorities as well.
In WARD 2, "we want to work on delivery of government services for the ward," said John Ralls, executive assistant to Councilman Jack Evans. He noted the "common problem" is in services such as trash pickup, policing and road management. Evans’ council priorities are to continue to balance the D.C. budget and increase awareness of new tax breaks such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. "We also have plans to introduce a bill to expand the EITC program at the beginning of the year," said Ralls.
WARD 3 Councilwoman Kathleen Patterson has stated her priorities for the ward as wanting to "continue to press for improved services to residents, including schools, police protection, street repair and other infrastructure issues." She plans on accomplishing this goal through oversight as well as direct requests to agencies. Priorities for the Judiciary Committee which she now chairs include using the council’s budget to promote effective public safety spending, a more effective Office of Corporation Counsel, legislative hearings on bills and to create a professional office of hearings and adjudication. She also wants to see "better compensation for council staff to recruit and retain strong professionals."
In WARD 4, "I want to be engaged in issues that affect the city," said Councilman Adrian Fenty, newest member of the council. His ward priorities include economic development, building recreation centers and having "an efficient government that can get things done."
He feels that residents are encouraged because "they want to see more family-oriented businesses and less liquor stores and car dealerships." He feels that the key to new business in the ward will be to make the roads and sidewalks more attractive, reach out and attract businesses, and increase police awareness to protect residents. Fenty also expects to see the renovation of Fort Stevens, Takoma and Emory recreation facilities.
"It is imperative that the residents feel in touch," said Fenty about constituent services. Fenty will be holding town meetings for the ward from January through April. This new level of involvement comes from the desire of wanting to "set new standards," said Executive Assistant Sean Gough.
Gough explained that the town hall meetings will be "opening grounds," to explore the community’s perception of an issue. "We also will be meeting with [government] agencies and hold them accountable and on a timeline," said Gough, who along with the rest of Fenty’s staff will be present at each of the meetings to "keep a presence of accessibility in the community." Along with the information given at each meeting, a list of phone numbers and contact persons will be given to residents who attend.
Monthly meetings with the ward’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, businesses and clergy will also take place throughout Fenty’s term. "We will provide ANCs with agency contacts to empower them on a grassroots level," said Gough. He also mentioned that in step with Fenty’s platform to bring economic development to the ward, there would be meetings within the business district. "We also plan on talking to a different church each month to work together through community events," said Gough.
In WARD 5, "we plan to work with the constituents for economic development," said Estell Lloyd, executive assistant to Councilman Vincent Orange. She also said that they want to establish an "overall communication with business developers." Orange has also been picked as chairman of the Committee on Government Operations, and will have oversight of 16 agencies including the Office of the Mayor, Office of the City Administrator, and the District Board of Elections and Ethics.
WARD 6 Councilwoman Sharon Ambrose’s 2001 focus will be to continue to work on economic development within the ward. She wants to refine development from Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Avenue to along H Street NE by giving the community an "opportunity to participate with the city government." Her agenda for the council also includes continued oversight and "ongoing efforts" through her chairing the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
In WARD 7, "there are three areas that we want to focus our attention upon to ensure that Ward 7 shares in the [District’s] economic renaissance," said William Lynch, executive assistant to Councilman Kevin Chavous. Those focal points are public safety, education, and economic development.
"We want to make people feel safe," Lynch said of the perception of safety in the neighborhoods within the ward. Equity and distribution of resources as well as improvement of facilities are the ideas behind Chavous’ education reform. "We want to bring the Department of Employment Services to Benning Road and Minnesota Avenue." Lynch said that this addition would provide an advantage "for increased job opportunities and a government presence" for Ward residents. Chavous will also again be making education his priority as a chairman of the council’s education committee. "We will re-engineer learning," said Lynch.
WARD 8 Councilwoman Sandra Allen wants to become a more vigilant council member as far as commercial development in the ward. She expressed her views as seeking "a government that is not so much money-oriented as people-oriented." Allen said she plans to ensure that the Committee on Economic Development makes her ward a priority and she plans to "work closely with the community and the mayor to encourage economic development."
AT-LARGE Councilwoman Carol Schwartz said she plans to focus on government accountability. "We have wonderful laws, but the implementation leaves things to be desired," she said. Schwartz, who was the mayor’s Republican opponent in 1998, says that she will "continue to hold the administration accountable," while making sure that the legislative branch enacts additional laws. As chairman of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, Schwartz said transportation issues, rat abatement and trash collection will all be focused upon.