?There is a special election coming up in DC April 26th to fill Kwame “Fully-Loaded” Brown’s council seat and much is at stake. Aside from ordering two pimped out/fully loaded Lincoln Navigators for the city to lease at $4,000 a month (paid for by taxpayers), Brown finds himself in a heap of other mess. The DC Campaign Finance Office found Brown’s 2008 re-election campaign “was not in substantial compliance with the District of Columbia Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act.”
Brown brushes this off as an administrative blunder but as the Chairman of the DC Council this looks very, very bad. The audit conducted by the DC Campaign Finance Office found Brown’s campaign didn’t account for hundreds of thousands of dollars and funneled over $200,000 to his brother Che Brown do campaign work. Of course Brown isn’t the only councilmember embroiled in controversy but his questionable behavior is worth noting for two reasons.
One, he is chair of the District’s legislative body and tasked with minding the District’s budget and these actions don’t demonstrate a fiscally responsible lawmaker. Second, Brown was one of the first Councilmembers to endorse Sekou Biddle to fill his seat. An endorsement Mr. Biddle fully embraced. It is important for DC voters to take note of the company Biddle keeps. He was also endorsed by Mayor Vincent Gray who is also embroiled in controversy around several people he hired to work in his administration.
With allegations of cronyism, corruption, and nepotism swirling around DC politicians, it is imperative for DC voters to consider a reform minded candidate with an ethics compass for the at-large council seat like Patrick Mara. To borrow a phrase coined by another blogger , Mara is “unbought and unbossed” by any DC politician. Having not been endorsed by any Councilmember, he can be agent for reform, something much needed in our ailing District government. If DC residents are tired of business as usual, wasteful spending, inefficient and unaccountable government and elected officials mired in ethics lapses; they need to get serious at the ballot AND think of launching some recall campaigns.
I asked Patrick a few questions about his campaign and here’s what he said.?
????With all the controversy of late surrounding the mayor and many Councilmembers including, Kwame “Fully-Loaded” Brown, Marion Barry’s unpaid traffic tickets and unregistered vehicle, Yvette Alexander’s allegations of fundraising violations, Michael Brown’s unpaid property and income taxes, and Tommy Thomas subject of DC Campaign Finance investigation, if you were elected to the Council, what would you do to help restore voter confidence in the legislative body?
As a member of the Council I will be the only truly independent voice. I will not look the other way when my colleagues continue the old ways of machine politics, capital cronyism, and outright corruption. This city desperately needs diversity of thought and a watchdog on the Council who will counter the clubby nature of DC government. I am proud to say that I am not endorsed by any Councilmembers and therefore will not beholden to anyone other than the voters. Acting as a voice of fiscal and ethical responsibility will help restore voter confidence in the DC Council.
Describe the three major platforms of your campaign? What are you going to do if elected to improve DC for all residents?
My campaign is focused on fiscal responsibility, continued education reform, and government accountability.
With a $320 million deficit the city needs to drastically cut spending; over the past decade the budget has grown by 78% and that is simply unsustainable. For too long, the Council and Mayor have spent money with no regard for the businesses and families who underwrite their profligate spending habits.
As a staunch education reform advocate and member of the DC State Board of Education, improving DC schools will play a key role in my agenda as Councilmember. I strongly support the Education reforms enacted by former Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee. I support fully funding DC Public Charter Schools and the Opportunity Scholarship program – these reforms have markedly improved education outcomes, particularly for children of low income families, and must not be reduced until we have quality schools in every DC neighborhood.
Finally, it is no secret to any informed DC voter that the ethical standard displayed by the current administration and Council is disgraceful. If elected, I will have no endorsements to repay, and I will be in the pocket of no special interests. I pledge to serve as the voters’ watchdog on the council and proudly publicize instances where my colleagues violate the public trust. We must put an end to the corruption rife in DC government now before we lose complete control of ethical standards.
For those residents, who aren’t Republican, why should they vote for you?
I am the only candidate running that can truly be an independent voice on the council. I am the last person that Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown, Mayor Gray, and other members of the Council want elected. I will put an end to the business as usual on the council. If DC residents are sick and tired of the same old wasteful spending and constant ethics violations then they should vote for me, a truly independent voice.
What is something most voters don’t know about Patrick Mara?
I am an avid mountain climber.
What part of town do you live in and what’s your favorite thing about living in DC?
I own a house in Columbia Heights and have watched that neighborhood grow and develop. It has been wonderful to see a neighborhood that at one time was under major economic and social distress and is now a flourishing and vibrant area.
Tell me a little bit about your current job?
I am the owner of The Dolan Group LLC., a consulting firm here in DC. I spend most of my time as the representative for Ward 1 on the State Board of Education. Education is very important to me and I spend my time making sure DC schools are continually improving.
Why do you have such a passion for volunteering with young people and what kind of volunteer work have you done over the years?
Over the years I have tutored 9 underprivileged boys in DC. I have watching 8 of them grow up and become the first generation in their families to go to college. I am still working with the 9th and hope he will one day attend college too. DC’s youth are the future of this city, and we need to give them the opportunities they deserve. I truly enjoy working with these students and helping in whatever modest way I can.
In the next five years, what do you feel are the biggest challenges to DC and how would you tackle these issues?
I believe our biggest challenge is tackling the massive deficit. Wasteful and irrational spending over the years has led to unsustainable spending levels. The city cannot continue to spend at this level without an economic disaster. I will work on the Council to bring spending back down to a level that reflects population growth. This will be accomplished by thorough review of all city contracts, an increase in transparency, and a comprehensive tax restructuring to make DC a more attractive place start a business, create jobs, and raise a family.
To find out more about Patrick Mara, and his positions on other topics, you can go to http://patrickmara.com/