Monday, September 20, 2010

"Jim Graham for Ward 8"

I was reading a conversation with Jack Evans on DCist this morning and began to wonder, what if the District could no longer get federal dollars unless they replaced their current council members with a new leader, er, by playing musical chairs (politics style)?

For example, while acknowledging and citing each Council Member’s stronghold, we maneuver him/her to a Ward that is “struggling” in that area. Each Council Member would be required to serve their new neighborhood (no, ifs, ands, or buts) just as strong (if not better) than they do their current Ward.

Take for instance, Jim Graham. If you go to his website, he boasts that Ward One is the most diverse ward in the District of Columbia. Now, I’m not endorsing "Jim Graham for Ward 8”, but I would like to look at his achievements in Ward One and see how they would apply to Ward 8. We could do this, with any number of the council members (Mary Cheh, Jack Evans, Tommy Wells, Kwame Brown, etc). I just happened to pick, Jim.

One achievement Graham cites under public safety is that he worked with neighbors and the ANC to block the opening of an offender halfway house in Adams Morgan across the street from an elementary school. He also ensured that Ward One supported its “fair share” of convicted felon halfway houses’ beds by reducing their number from 62 to 13 (emphasis mine). Graham also led the initial effort to focus public attention on slum property conditions, which resulted in the creation of the “hot property” list and consequent criminal prosecution against slumlords. And last but not least, Graham successfully pressured the DC Housing Authority to improve the pace of rehabilitation of boarded-up properties.

Just looking at that list alone, Ward 8 might see an interesting, if not impressive transformation if Graham were our leader.

So, I challenge my readers to select a new leader for your Ward.** What do you think your new Council Member would bring to the table, that your current leader does not? Do you have a thought as to how any of these Council Members would perform under different pressures, then the ones they face in their current wards?  And going back to my analogy above, would Graham survive Ward 8--could he turn our struggling ward around?  Answer in the comments below.

**Rules being: you cannot elect your current leader and you have to pick from the currently elected members of the Council: David Catania, Harry Thomas, Jr., Jack Evans, Jim Graham, Kwame Brown, Marion Barry, Mary Cheh, Muriel Bowser, Phil Mendelson, Tommy Wells, Vincent Gray, Yvette Alexander, Michael A. Brown.