How would you create more affordable housing?
I would increase the supply and decrease the price of all housing. Zoning and other regulations increase the cost of producing housing by 30-40%, including for groups that build affordable housing. In D.C. additionally we cannot build tall apartment or condominium buildings, even in neighborhoods where across a river or across a street there are 40 story buildings in Bethesda, Silver Spring, or Arlington. Finally D.C.’s rent control and tenant laws are the last remaining vestige of Nixon’s wage and price controls, left over from when D.C. was administered by the federal government. Rent control and other tenancy laws in D.C. have encouraged investors to sell smaller and older multi-unit buildings off for condominium conversion, leaving only newly constructed luxury rentals as additions to the rental market. As a realtor I frequently run into investors and other realtors who deliberately abandon D.C. for Maryland and Virginia. I would abolish these laws and regulations.
Should green card holders who reside in D.C. be allowed to vote in local elections?
A much higher priority is restoring voting rights to felons who were convicted of non-violent, victimless, crimes. DC residents born in DC have been stripped of rights. My strongest feeling about this green card question is to marvel at its prioritization as a question you would ask in a mayoral race in a city with decades old tragedies of dysfunctional government schools that at least half the students still attend and youth and minority unemployment rates approaching 20% – and higher for minority youth.
I can see either side of this argument but I lean “No.” I believe people already do vote in D.C. without being U.S. citizens by getting a taxpayer identification number and a driver’s license while here on a student or other visa, and then voting, and the system is incompetent to identify them as ineligible. But I do not favor legalizing this activity. I favor free immigration and making it easier to live and work in the U.S., but I believe one should become a citizen to vote.
Do you support campaign finance reform? If so, what reforms would you be in favor of?
Yes. I favor having incumbents signing a contract as a condition of employment stating that they will not accept political action committee contributions in their re-election campaigns, but only contributions from individual donors. I also favor sitting some overall limit for the total contributions an incumbent can accept (say $250,000), again as a condition of employment in their contract.
Other limits of spending or giving by individuals and associations of individuals violates the First Amendment guarantees of freedom or speech and of association. But incumbents, who are the primary beneficiaries of both their positions and financial donations from organized groups, can be limited as a condition of employment.
Additionally I favor barring incumbents, again as part of an employment contract, from being involved in charities, since we have seen them siphon funds from them while using their office to help raise money intended for the charity.
What changes, if any, would you make to the teacher evaluation process?
I favor more parental involvement in teacher evaluation. Ideally this is achieved by expanding charter schools, education voucher programs, and education tax credits so that parents and families have the same freedom of choice they would have when they shop for music lessons or swimming lessons.
For parents whose children remain in traditional government schools it would be good to involve parents in hiring or promoting teachers. One method would be to have parents do end of year teacher assessments, scored and published much as college students evaluate professors at the end of a semester. Teachers who receive low evaluations would not be eligible for promotion, raises, or even contract renewals. They would be invited to seek other employment. I also favor reducing any barriers to parents participating in classrooms; encouraging parents to be on site and involved during the school day would help keep communities informed about how schools and teachers operate.
Where do you stand on the D.C. United stadium proposal?
Against it. I oppose government subsidies or even tax breaks for stadiums, as I do for all businesses. Public policy studies have shown these stadiums do not benefit the local economy. I am opposed to government picking winners and losers, and to the government class being in a position to hand out benefits to cronies and campaign donors. We have corruption in D.C. because we have a $12 billion honey pot that attracts thieves. We must cut the budget, cut spending, and end mayoral or city council discretion or influence over who receives land parcels, grants, subsidies etc.
I favor auctioning off D.C. parcels and closed or abandoned stadiums in open, transparent auctions. I also favor allowing the transfer of some abandoned D.C. properties to non-profits that provide community programs.
If there is a demand for a stadium a consortium of businesses can raise the capital to develop it nearby in an area that will not produce traffic gridlock in D.C.
Where do you stand on the legalization of Marijuana?
For it. We waste money and ruin lives harassing and incarcerating those who use marijuana. I favor decriminalization. I also favor radical reductions in the D.C. regulatory thicket that keeps the local private economy from creating jobs in D.C. for people who do not have law degrees and do not work for federal bureaucracies or lobbying firms. This thicket kept D.C. from having a medical marijuana dispensary until the past few months, over a decade after medical marijuana was legalized. And we still have no producers permitted and licensed to grow plants to supply it.
I also favor a partial “ban the box” where the D.C. government is not allowed to ask prospective employees about their marijuana use or about any past convictions anywhere for any drug crime or other victimless crime (e.g. prostitution).
I would expunge all criminal records of D.C. residents convicted of non-violent victimless crimes, including marijuana sale, possession or use, and pardon the incarcerated.