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Friday Question of the Day – Any Thoughts on the Election for the DC Council At Large Race? (reader request)

by Prince Of Petworth October 18, 2012 at 10:22 pm 70 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user thisisbossi

The DC Board of Elections lists the following candidates for the At Large seats (two to be elected):

David Grosso IND
Mary Brooks Beatty REP
Leon J. Swain Jr IND
Michael A. Brown IND
Vincent Orange DEM
Ann C. Wilcox STG
A.J. Cooper IND

The reader asks succinctly – “who is the best candidate?”

Do you guys know who you’re voting for or have you not decided yet? For those who’ve decided, if you feel comfortable sharing, who are you voting for and why?

If folks want to learn more there is a debate this Saturday October 20th, 3:00-4:30pm at Catholic University. Doors open at 2:30pm. The debate will take place in the Great Room on the 2nd floor of the Pryzbyla Center at The Catholic University of America, 620 Michigan Ave NE.

  • caballero

    The wife and I support David Grosso. And we strongly oppose Michael Brown.

    • Anonymous

      +1 In addition to not being Michael Brown, David Grosso has some good ideas for the city. My partner and I support him all the way.

    • Wife and I are voting for Grosso and Cooper I think, not really sure on the second one. We are VERY ANTI-Michael Brown.

      Michael Brown=more of the same corruption and mismanagement we have come to rue. Do not vote for him!

  • saf

    Not brown, not orange.

    • Anonymous


    • ET

      My thoughts exactly. Don’t have any about the others. Yet.

    • I totally agree with you, but both will win. Probably easily.

      • Anonymous

        Not if enough people vote. I’m pretty sure the turnout numbers are low, even for a Presidential election.

        • The “enough people” have to be voting for your candidate, though. Remember that wide swathes of the city do not hold the same views as PoPville. Orange certainly will win. Brown is in trouble, however. According to a new poll today he’s only got a 5 percentage point lead. He’s more vulnerable than I thought, which is a good thing.

  • sbc

    I went to the debate in SW. Frankly, none of them impressed me. It was really sad. I think Grosso is the best of the bunch–less corrupt than the incumbents but with some idea of how governing and the Council work. He seemed intelligent; I might not agree with him on some things but I think he would at least be thoughtful and intentional in his decisionmaking.

    And then I think I’ll cast my second vote for Beatty–I never thought I’d vote for a Republican but I think that her thoughts on crime were better than any of the other candidates’ (she and Swain mentioned policing and prosecution; all the others either focused on blaming victims for doing ridiculous stuff like checking their phone on a metro or said “we need to solve poverty and that will solve crime”–well good luck with that but in the meantime I’d like to not get my head bashed in). Also, I think having a true opposition party member is a good thing in a legislature; “independents” like Catania are just a joke in this city.

    • em

      During the debate I went back and forth a lot between Grosso, Cooper, and Swain. They all had some good things to say, and they all made some missteps, but hit more pluses than minuses for me (public transportation and bikes, schools, youth, affordable housing – although Swain had some *interesting* ideas about that last one). Ultimately, Cooper was just too combative, and at times seemed ready to come to blows with Brown. The moderator of the debate (a local news anchor) didn’t help things, either.

      Wilcox had some good things to say, but she also implied that anyone who takes their phone out in public is just asking to be mugged. There were a couple of other sketchy things, but I don’t remember what they were.

      Beatty was a wash, as far as I am concerned. Sure, she said some buzzwords about cutting down on crime, but she also made it sound like she wanted to turn SW into the next H St. And she made it clear that she doesn’t like public transit or bikes.

      Brown was useless – most of his time was spent trying to explain how he’s a good guy put into a bad situation.

      Orange wasn’t in attendance – his son or daughter was getting married.

      I think that I’ll end up voting Grosso and Swain.

  • D

    Seems like Grosso is the best of the bunch.

    Brown is okay on policy, but to elect him would be to ignore some glaring red flags. Even so, Brown is more forward looking than Orange. Swain tried to stand up to DC cabbies which should win some hearts around here. I know very little about the other candidates.

    • Anonymous

      That’s my view. Brown is good on policy, but the personal flaws are so self-inflicted and self-defeating. It’s not the corruption, but the carelessness in his case that makes me wonder why he’d seek the public scrutiny.

    • Orange will win…. There is no doubt there, so if you are wondering which one of the two is worst, give Orange your vote. Brown still has a theoretical chance of losing.

  • Ziggy

    I’ve narrowed it down to Beatty, Grasso and Cooper. There’s a Grasso rally in DuPont Circle tomorrow (Sat) at 11:00am.

  • I heard from Brown, Cooper, and Grosso at a community meeting. None of them gave any indication of what they would do (e.g., initiatives that they would champion) and instead talked about generalities and visions. Not helpful.

    Brown and Cooper are definitely off my list. Brown is corrupt (might not have violated a rule, but it’s common sense corrupt) and Cooper seemed more interested in “Long Time Residents”. Grosso at least spoke like he’d be interested in working for all DC residents.

    • Anonymous

      Would you care to elaborate on your impression that Cooper was focused on longtime residents? Not trying to come off as snarky, here–I’m sincerely curious. Do you think this is at the expense of newer residents, and if so, in what way? I’m interested in what I’ve read about his background (seems like he could bring some new perspectives, and a fresh, younger voice to the Council) but I definitely want to dig deeper than what’s on a campaign website (for Cooper as well as for any of the candidates).

      • He spoke at a community meeting, which was mostly older residents, so it may have just been targeted at the audience. What stood out to me was those key phrases – things like “I’m a native washingtonian”, “needs of the long time residents”, etc. Nothing explicit / offensive – just subtle. In contrast, when Grosso spoke, his message had key phrases like “unifying”, “bringing us together” and “all district residents”.

        Unfortunately, they all lacked substance. So I have no idea if it’s “at the expense of of newer residents”. I doubt that anyone short of Marion Barry would ever put out something that brazen.

  • JS

    Will the debate be on TV, radio, online? I seriously cannot be bothered to make it over to Catholic, but I’d like to make an informed decision in this election.

  • Matt

    After attending one of the fundraisers for Grosso I will also be voting for him. I have not yet made up my mind for the other vote but know that it will not be Orange or Brown.

  • I’m voting for Leon Swain. He has a strong record with MPD and the Taxicab Commission of fighting corruption and upholding strong ethics.

    • Yes, his “strong record” with MPD includes being shot at during the Reagan assassination attempt and lauded as a hero as a result. Only it wasn’t true: he poked a hole in his hat with a pen and claimed it was from a stray bullet. But the city was too embarrassed to rescind their accolades because of all the fanfare they made about him. Nice character, that one. My father-in-law worked alongside him back then, and rather magnanimously refers to him as “a dope.”

      Sorry, but we’ve exceeded our quota for dopes on the council.

      • KenyonDweller

        That’s a pretty serious charge. Can you point me toward any news stories about Swain faking the bullet hole? I couldn’t find any.

        • Unfortunately you won’t find any. It was 30+ years ago — a different era of news reporting (compared to now, where he’d be outed on every blog within hours). And, as I said, the city was embarrassed that they honored him, only to find out he made it up. It remained departmental and higher-level city government (aka insider) knowledge.

      • jcm

        This reminds me of the accusations against John Kerry by swift boat veterans.

  • KenyonDweller

    I hate both Orange and Brown. (the candidates not the colors.) I will vote for Grosso. I don’t vote for republicans, so that omits Beatty. I may just vote for only one candidate.

    • TG

      Kind of a narrow minded position to say categorically that you don’t vote for Republicans. Abraham Lincoln was a republican you know.

      • A better reason not to vote for Brooks would be because of her outdated “war on cars” narrative. She seems to want to build parking garages everywhere.

      • KenyonDweller

        Wow, what a compelling case for the Republican Party. There was a good one 150 years ago! Yippee. I don’t vote for Republicans because no matter how moderate they might claim to be, they have chosen to align themselves with a party that is anti-abortion, anti-immigrant, favors tax policies that overwhelmingly benefit the rich, and would enact radical economic policies that would take this country back to the 1920s. Maybe if Beatty disavowed her party’s platform, I would consider voting for her, but then she wouldn’t be much of a Republican and would probably be bounced out of the party for heresy.

        • Anonymous


        • TG

          I am just not sure the national platform has much to do at all with local politics. I think party affiliation in this City only matters because of the way the primary system is set up. Abortion and immigration are pretty much federal issues and DC has relatively low property taxes and a mostly friendly business environment, even with Democratic leadership. Give me an honest person that is not corrupt and votes on what they think is best for the City as a whole. I am blind to party affiliation in that regard.

          • KenyonDweller

            That is certainly a reasonable position. I just happen to put more weight on party affiliation because I think that one’s choice of party says a lot about one’s values. That is what a political party is, after all–a collection of individuals with a common political philosophy.

          • caballero

            I’m an independent. Does that mean I should sit on my hands when it’s time to vote? FWIW, I vote for Dems and Republicans all the time, and I don’t get hung up on party affiliation, especially not at the local level. I would never JOIN one of the major parties, but I have no trouble voting for their candidates.

          • KenyonDweller

            Caballero–saying “I won’t vote for candidates from Party A because I disagree with the Party A’s values” is not the same thing as saying “I will only vote for people from Party B” or “I must be a party member to vote at all.” So, no, I don’t think that you have to sit on your hands.

          • Tim

            caballero: i’m in the exact same boat

  • Anonymous

    Brown and Orange are horrible for DC. But this city is known for re-electing the most corrupt politicians. Grosso or Beatty… with a lean towards Beatty.

    • TG

      Can you vote for two since two are elected?

      • Anonymous


  • TG

    I would say anyone but Orange. He cheated in his last election with these sequentially numbered money orders. Dirty just like his cohorts on the council.

  • Anonymous

    Grosso and Beatty for me. Though if it were possible to cast negative votes instead, I’d vote to cancel out one Brown and one Orange vote. Keeping them off the council is more important to me than voting for any of the others.

    • Anonymous

      I’m right there with you in knowing who I don’t want to in but not being sure about the rest. So I’m wondering who has the best chance of winning, so we don’t split votes too much and let these guys sneak in.

  • 4,000 DC nurses are supporting Orange and Brown…http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nurses-for-a-Healthy-DC

    • Thanks for giving me another reason to NOT vote for either of them.

      I’m planning to vote for Grosso, and undecided on the 2nd vote.

      I have a hunch Brown and Orange will win simply because of the lack of “unity” behind any of the other candidates. That is, the anti-incumbent vote will be diveded evenly enough among Grosso, Cooper, Swain et al that Brown and Orange will win.

  • bb

    Definitely not Orange. He nearly lost last time – hopefully we can push him out this time around.

    All the others have done little to get the word out about what they stand for, it seems. Looks like I’ll have to go to the debate.

  • KH

    4,000 nurses in DC hospitals are supporting Orange and Brown…http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nurses-for-a-Healthy-DC/544543112229022

    • Anonymous

      So which campaign do you work for – Brown or Orange?

    • TG

      Stated another way, the nurses Union is supporting Orange and Brown. A completely different thing in my mind. Plus whenever the entrenched interests in this City, including Unions, line up behind anyone, we should vote the other way.

      • Totally agree! 4,000 nurses are supporting him is baloney. Their union has decided that the incumbents would be better for their union. That is all.

      • Anonymous

        Indeed. All due respect to organized labor (which I support in many circumstances), unions (as do most interest groups) have a tendency to go with the incumbents or favorites, unless those candidates’ policies are completely opposed to their interests. The risk of going out on a limb and supporting a challenger/outsider candidate is too great when it looks likely that that the incumbent is going to get elected anyway…and will then start a new term in office pissed off at the unions that endorsed someone else. I don’t fault the unions for doing what they have to do, it just means their endorsements (and endorsements in general) don’t carry much weight with me.

  • I. Rex

    I’m voting for david grosso. The council needs shaking up and grosso seems to be a reasonable man with good ethics. Not sure about the other slot. Maybe swain or maybe beatty but definitely no brown or orange.

  • TG

    This is a great topic by the way. Despite all of the different perspectives on this site, I think people uniformly care about their city. I for one am finding the debate very informative.

    • Agreed!

    • Where did you get good info on the issues? I’ve been frustrated by the debate because it’s mostly focused on weeding out the dirtbags.
      Fine, I’m not voting for Brown or Orange, but where’s the policy differences between the other candidates?

  • serranopepper

    We are voting for Grosso. Undecided about second choice. But definitely NOT Brown or Orange

  • jcm

    I’m voting for Grosso and Swain, but I expect Brown and Orange to win easily.

  • I met Grosso a couple times and I like him. I like his proposal for open primaries, his support for the community college, his background and his concern for the city. He knows DC: its past and the issues it’s facing.

    As others have said here, he will probably be my only vote in the at-large race.

  • David Grosso is a good, good person. Voting for him is a no-brainer. (But maybe I’m biased because I’ve known him and his family for a long time.)

    We *can* vote for two but voting for only one person is OK.

  • DC20009

    I am still making my mind up – my absentee ballot in on my desk in front of me – but I’ve eliminated Brown and Orange since I generally will not vote for any incumbents on the DC Council. Though I might go for Mendelsohn; Jack Evans is unopposed and I have no one to write in against him.

    But the BIG question is: Who will get my vote for US Senator?

  • Anonymous

    I’m voting for Grosso and – god help me – Beatty. While I would sooner vote for the Devil himself than any Republican on a national ticket, I do think political diversity is desperately needed on the DC Council. Plus, this gives me bragging rights next time I’m in a political argument with a conservative by being able to say that I have voted for a Republican before.

  • Anonymous

    So, here’s a variation on the original question of who is the “best” candidate. If the consensus is (as it seems to be so far) that the main goal is to get Orange and Brown out, who is the best candidate to do that? I think at this point, I’m between Grosso, Cooper, and Swain (even though I have some reservations). But I’m also a pragmatist. Does anyone know if there’s been opinion polling on this so far?

    In other words, if I’m leaning toward Candidates A and B of the three, but Candidate B has no shot whatsoever, whereas Candidate C *might* have a shot, is it better for me to throw my second vote to Candidate C to bolster his chances, rather than “waste” it on Candidate B? (Sorry to get all abstract there…I just didn’t want to use specific names since I have no idea where the real candidates stand in terms of their chances!)

    • I had the same thought. What a shame if Brown or Orange are elected because the opposition vote split three ways. Or worse, they both get elected because the opposition vote split four ways (Grosso). I like Grosso for taking Brown to task on corruption. I’m voting Swain, too. I like deep roots from Ward 8 and law enforcement experience on the council. At least there’s a track record of fighting corruption with Swain. And I want Bowser for mayor, NOW!

  • lou

    Grosso and Swain for me. I have no idea what Swain’s positions are and that’s probably dangerous. I just like that he kicked butt when he was on the taxi commission and Gray felt compelled to remove him because of pressure from the cab driver lobby. And he helped the FBI uncover corruption from the group. So…ethics! rah!

  • Anonymous

    Embarrassingly stupid question but the BoE site FAQ is a little contradictory. Can I still register and vote in DC this election day?

    • Anonymous

      Don’t be embarrassed…I found the BoE website very user-unfriendly, and I like to think I’m pretty savvy and experienced at navigating websites and ferreting out information. In my case, I was looking for two specific, simple pieces of information: hours of operation for the polling sites, and deadlines for voter registration–information that you’d think would be front and center, but that I spend a long time clicking through various parts of the site, hoping to find. (A PDF about voter registration deadlines is now on the home page, but it wasn’t a few weeks ago when I first checked. Had to plan a daylong business trip on election day and was trying to figure out the latest that I could get back to DC and still make it to the poll…although I’m thinkin now maybe I’ll just early-vote in case.)

      I agree that the info about voter registration is confusing. The page here (https://www.dcboee.org/voter_info/register_to_vote/ovr_step1.asp) indicates that the deadline to register in-person at BOE was Friday the 19th, but that one can register same-day in person at an early voting site or at one’s poll site…yet on the page listing the early voting sites, there’s no clear follow-up info. about the registration option. They’re open ’til 7:00, so if your schedule allows, maybe stop by the early voting site in your ward to inquire about it in person? Frustrating, but at least you’d get clarification (hopefully).

  • Here’s a website I found very helpful in telling the difference between the different opposition candidates. They include video of the candidate forums (the “debates” some folks have mentioned), as well as responses to their candidate questionnaires regarding various policy issues.


  • Anonymous

    DAVID GROSSO! Honest, hard working and campaigning on platform of ethics and integrity. City needs a whole council full of David Grosso’s. I’m undecided about second vote. May just cast one voter for Grosso because I want him to win.

  • Anonymous

    For everyone who is unsure about their second vote, If you’re very passionate about voting for David Grosso, just vote for him and don’t use your second vote. Some people have mixed feelings about this, but a second vote theoretically cancels out your first vote.

    • emilyjace

      Can someone with some math or economics background confirm that this is true?


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