DC for Democracy questionnaire

I recently received and completed a questionnaire from DC for Democracy. I appreciated the opportunity to respond. It's important to me that my thoughts and positions on these issues to be readily available to anyone who is interested, so the questions, and my responses, are below:


Campaign finance reform

1)  If elected, will you commit to fully fund and oversee implementation of the Fair Elections Act?

[Yes. Importantly, I would also immediately enhance this law by requiring mandatory disclosure of all individual donors who serve as owners, executives, principals, directors, partners, board members or trustees of companies that have lobbied the DC Council or received public benefits, to be defined as contracts, tax subsidies, or goods and services of substantial value provided by the city. Many progressive jurisdictions throughout the country have passed similar legislation, so DC will remain well behind when it comes to campaign finance reform, even after the Fair Elections Act is fully implemented. These types of disclosure laws have withstood First Amendment challenges in court because it is recognized that, even in an era where money is unfortunately protected as speech, it is in the public interest for voters to know who is electing – and influencing – our leaders.

The DC campaign finance law that caps both business and individual donations at $500 has had substantial unintended consequences that need to be addressed. Members of the DC Council are able to take more money from owners and executives of businesses, as individuals, than they could have taken from the business itself. This has made it incredibly difficult to track which businesses are donating money through their owners and executive leadership, and has created a dynamic where people like the incumbent, Mr. Allen, are able to tell voters they do not directly accept business money – technically true – even though a deeper look at his finances shows tens of thousands of dollars in donations from developer and business executives throughout the city over the last four years. For example, in 2014 Mr. Allen accepted a max donation from the owner of PN Hoffman, the developer that went on to secure approval to develop the Wharf shortly thereafter. In 2014 and 2018, he has received substantial campaign contributions from the executive team at Stanton, the developer that recently completed the Hine project. There are many more examples, and the information is not easily accessible to voters, which is why Mr. Allen has been able to say for four years that he does not accept money from business interests, even as these donations continue to come in. This money has influenced votes and shaped our city’s skyline and spending priorities, so voters deserve to see it. Absent a deterrent that would keep councilmembers from taking tens of thousands of dollars from business owners and executives without paying a political price for doing so, we are not creating a system that will meaningfully change the dynamics of our elections and our pay for play politics.]

2) Developers and large corporations dominate the campaign donor base. What is your position on legislation that would prohibit businesses that make campaign contributions from having or seeking DC contracts/grants that exceed a specified amount and for a specific time period?

[I would strongly support such legislation, and if elected I commit to working with you and other stakeholders immediately upon taking office to introduce and move this legislation as quickly as possible. In this respect, I differ from my opponent, who takes money from developer executives and, in turn, votes to give tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to the entities they run. It should come as no surprise that Ward 6 is home to some of the most expensive new development in the city in recent years, most of which does not contain any truly affordable housing, and does not provide well-paying long-term jobs for members of the local community.

As outlined in Question 1 above, additional steps need to be taken to ensure the law captures the intent of these reforms. With respect to DC Council, the caps on individual and business donations both being set at $500 makes it very easy to avoid donating money through a business entity entirely, but does not limit access and influence. If we prohibit businesses that do business with the city from making campaign contributions as outlined above, we are further incentivizing donations from individuals who are involved in the business, which makes additional disclosure requirements necessary. The most clear example of this abuse would be a candidate who commits to not taking his or her $500 from the Trump Organization, but quietly solicits money from Eric, Don Jr, Ivanka, Jared and Tiffany, for a total of $2,500, none of which would captured as a contribution from a business entity under current law.

To solve this problem and avoid creating another loophole that incumbents can, and will, further exploit, I would add mandatory disclosure of all individual donors who serve as owners, executives, principals, directors, partners, board members or trustees of companies that have lobbied the DC Council or received public benefits, to be defined as contracts, tax subsidies, or goods and services that trigger the specified amount or time period that would apply to the businesses themselves. We cannot by law prohibit donations from these individuals, but courts have held that we can require transparency by making disclosure of their donations and business relationships mandatory. Many cities have already implemented similar policies which withstood judicial challenges. This is vitally important information that voters deserve to see when they are determining who will best represent their interests in our government, because it has had a demonstrated impact on the way our elected officials make policy decisions.]

Worker Rights

3)The Council passed the Universal Paid Leave Act in 2016 and funded it in the FY18 budget. Explain your position on pending legislation that seeks to significantly change the law.

[I opposed all of the recent efforts to modify the law, and in fact support expanding the law to provide a minimum of 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents. This is the amount of leave recommended by pediatricians because it has been demonstrated to greatly improve the health of mothers and babies. My position is simple: paid family leave is a matter of basic health care and human decency, and DC government must make health care decisions based on recommendations from doctors, not business owners. I am a new mom, so I fully understand how important paid family leave is for families. As such, I have actively supported the Universal Paid Leave Act.

Importantly, our Ward 6 Councilmember was quoted in the Washington Post in November as being “comfortable with what we have,” at a time when implementation was delayed, and the law was under attack. It’s a privilege to be comfortable, because there are people in our community who cannot afford to wait for this law to be implemented. Nobody in Ward 6 should be comfortable when families in our community are struggling to take care of a new baby or sick parent while managing a job and making sure there’s enough money to pay rent and other bills. True champions of paid family leave understand this, which is why they fight tirelessly against efforts to delay or weaken the law, and work to expand it.  

There should be no minimum employer size, as has been suggested by some members of the Council, because the importance of a new parent caring for their child, or a child or spouse caring for a sick relative, does not vary based on how large their company is. Further, because paid family leave is a fundamental health care matter, employers should not be involved in any eligibility or funding decisions. Any legislation that changes the financing from a mandatory employer tax, or houses decision-making anywhere other than within the DC government, would give undue influence to businesses over matters of employee health care. I would strongly oppose any such efforts and fight tirelessly to fund and swiftly implement the law to protect DC’s working families.]

4)What is your position on the Fair Scheduling bill, which seeks to give workers more predictable work schedules?

[I fully support this legislation. It’s incredibly unfortunate that the Council bowed to business interests and continues to table this important legislation. In another example of our Council working for business interests rather than its people, a bill supported by labor and consumer organizations across the city has been cast aside by our DC Council because they have placed the lobbying efforts of the DC Chamber and other businesses over the interests of our neighbors.

The legislation is critical because it would primarily support the most economically vulnerable workers in our city. Requiring employers to provide hours to current employees before bringing on new staff would allow many workers to reach full-time status, which would trigger their eligibility for employer-sponsored health insurance. Having worked on Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation in the Obama administration, I can say with certainty that, in a city where our DC Council seeks to position themselves as champions of the ACA, one of the most important policy changes they could make in order to decrease the rate of uninsured DC workers would be to increase the number of full-time workers. Yet, they refuse to act. This bill is largely about economic certainty and security for low-wage workers, but it is also an example of DC business interests having undue influence in matters related to the health care of DC workers.

Beyond the obvious benefits of additional work hours, advance notice of scheduling and the elimination of ‘just-in-time’ scheduling would allow workers to schedule childcare when it is needed – and not schedule it when it is not needed. It would also allow more workers to climb the economic ladder by taking evening classes or seeking additional employment should they choose to do so. This is good policy that strengthens our workforce, which is why some companies such as Target have voluntarily adopted a policy where workers receive their work schedules with a minimum of ten days advance notice.]

Tax & Budget

5)  What is your view of the Council’s vote in 2017 to cut the estate tax?

[As a Democrat, I was disappointed that the DC Council moved some of the same tax policies in 2017 as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, and dismayed that the current Ward 6 councilmember voted in favor of these cuts. Those votes don’t reflect the views or values of my neighbors in Ward 6, they reflect Republican votes that were taken at the behest of wealthy campaign donors.

It has long been said that budgets are moral documents, and the decision of our DC Council to take a budget surplus and distribute it to corporations and the ultra-rich is a statement of morals and values that I simply do not agree with. As a matter of fundamental decency, I’m appalled that we can do things like cut the estate tax and lower the corporate tax rate, while at the same time saying we don’t have enough money to adequately address our affordable housing crisis, homelessness epidemic and city-wide health disparities that more closely resemble those in developing nations than other parts of America.]

6) What is your position on the Council’s vote on the $82 million in tax-increment financing for the Union Market development, as well as the vote on the amendment proposing to use $18 million of those funds for affordable housing?

[I strongly opposed the Council’s vote on the Union Market TIF, and was disgusted to see that my councilmember voted in favor of it. As a matter of principle, I will always prioritize the needs of our low-income residents over the wishes of wealthy commercial developers. My position is simple: once we make sure that every one of our neighbors has a safe, stable, affordable roof over their head, we can start considering whether to incentivize commercial development through tax incentives. The juxtaposition of a vote for a developer subsidy taken almost simultaneous to a vote against assisting our low-income residents was a glaring window into the priorities of the DC Council as presently constituted. It’s not who we are as a city, and it’s not who we are as a Ward.

Adding insult to injury, this TIF was primarily provided to fund the construction of an expensive parking garage that the city itself has said was unnecessary. We are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, so tax subsidies and financing may be an appropriate budgetary tool in order to spur residential development that increases our affordable housing stock. That’s not what this was.]

Environmental Issues

7)  What is your position on the Carbon Fee Rebate proposal?

[I support this proposal. I am very familiar with policies related to carbon taxes and rebates, having worked on Capitol Hill during the congressional debate of similar federal policy almost a decade ago. Policies that incentivize a shift to green energy and reduce our city’s emissions are becoming increasingly important, and policies that incentivize change by investing funds in our own communities are the optimal way to produce these results.

It is also important that we pursue clean energy policy without unduly burdening low-income residents who cannot afford to upgrade their homes or modify their energy source with efficiency in mind. To that end, as fees on distribution companies are increased and those costs are passed onto consumers, I would seek to revisit the percentage of carbon rebates going to our low-income residents, currently set at 15 percent. This policy is estimated to increase residential power bills by an average of $9/month, and while that should be offset by rebates, it is an increase that could be debilitating for families who struggle to pay their bills on a month-to-month basis. We need to make sure the rebate system is designed in such a way that we are proactively insulating low-income residents from price spikes they cannot afford, particularly since they may experience these financial pressures prior to receiving rebates.

I would also revise the eligibility requirements for low-income residents. I am not comfortable with requiring residents to have a photo ID or driver’s license in order to be eligible for rebates, since these requirements would inherently exclude the most vulnerable populations in our city who will depend on access to these rebates most. Presumptive eligibility would protect low-income residents from being excluded from this rebate program.] 

8) If elected, will you assist the DC Reinvest campaign by supporting the passage of both the Sense of the Council Resolution regarding divestment from Wells Fargo as D.C.'s bank of record and the Strengthening the Community Development Amendment Act of 2017?  

[Yes. I oppose renewing the contract with Wells Fargo when it expires in 2020, and support DC following the lead of progressive cities throughout the nation that have divested from Wells Fargo because of their financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

I also support the Strengthening the Community Development Amendment Act of 2017. As banks continue to consolidate, DC has an opportunity to proactively protect low-income and underserved populations, many of whom already struggle to access credit or afford the rising fees that have become a prerequisite to basic services such as access to a checking account. The DC Council has a responsibility to set the tone when it comes to what will be considered fair and equitable financial practices in our city, and that includes rewarding financial institutions that invest in affordable housing and community development with our business.]

Housing

9) The purpose of DC’s rent stabilization program, known as Rent Control, is to preserve the affordability of about 80,000 units in buildings built before 1976. However, rents in these units have risen so rapidly that long term tenants are being priced out of their apartments. To prevent further loss of affordable housing, two legislative fixes are before the DC Council. B-0025 will limit annual rent increases to an amount equal to the Consumer Price Index. B22-0100 will prohibit agreements between housing providers and tenants that call for rent increases for future tenants. In June, 2017, the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization held a hearing on both bills, but they have not yet been voted on. What is your position on these two bills?

[I support the policy change put forth by B22-0025, though would seek to offer an amendment to the legislation if given the opportunity, as outlined below. Based on a recent report, Ward 6 has fewer rent controlled units than any other Ward in the city. I have met too many Ward 6 neighbors who have lived in their homes for decades and feel as though they are counting the days until they are forced out. The pressure placed on our neighbors to find affordable housing, let alone remain in it, is tremendous and at times inhumane. As such, I support policies that tie rent increases to CPI and if given the opportunity to debate this particular piece of legislation, I would offer an amendment that would modify the annual rent increase percentage cap on rent-control units to 2.5 percent rather than 5. While it has not been the case in recent years, history shows that when the economy is booming and wages are growing rapidly, the lowest income bracket often lags behind. Our low-income neighbors already spend upwards of half their income on housing costs. As such, a 5 percent rent increase poses a burden that many of our neighbors are simply unable to meet. A 2.5 percent increase cap would more appropriately align with the historical data on wage increases for low-income workers, and protect many of our long-time residents from being forced to leave their communities.

I support B22-0100. It is despicable that housing providers have been increasingly asking tenants to unknowingly enter into agreements that are detrimental to future tenants, and it is the responsibility of the DC Council to end this predatory practice that has contributed to a drastic reduction in DC’s affordable housing stock. Some stakeholders argue that this policy change will raise housing costs for those currently in rent-control units, and to the extent there is such a cost shift this would be an example of a burden that the DC Council should allocate surplus revenue to alleviate, as opposed to things like corporate and estate tax cuts.]

Housing, continued

10) The Office of Planning (OP) is leading the periodic amendment cycle for the Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan). OP has proposed significant revisions to the Plan, loosening density definitions and emphasizing that the Zoning Commission should interpret Comp Plan provisions as suggestive rather than prescriptive, thereby placing the Commission’s authority above that of the Comp Plan, which is District law. Do you support these changes?

[No, I strongly oppose these changes. The Comp Plan is centered on the idea of an “inclusive city,” but in reviewing the proposed revisions it does the opposite. It is clear that the amendments stand to drastically change DC and bend to the whims of the developer class. Far from providing for an “inclusive city,” the proposed changes inject ambiguity, loosen definitions to key terms (e.g., residential and commercial definitions of low-, moderate-, medium-, and high-density), and weaken the Comp Plan’s existing prescriptive power at the cost of further displacing our African American and Latinx residents. This is wrong.

Moreover, I am deeply troubled by the lack of transparency throughout the amendment process that OP has pursued. I have spoken with countless voters throughout Ward 6 who have been counting on this Comprehensive Plan process to provide them with a pathway to stability and security in their longtime homes and neighborhoods. I’ve had more conversations than I can count with Ward 6 neighbors worried that the downstream impact of the revisions posed by OP will result in new, imposing development that will push even more African-American and Latinx families out of our community. These are individuals who have lived in our city for 50-plus years who thought this process would provide them with a voice, due process, and a recognition by their city that their continued presence in and contributions to their community was valued, respected, and worthy of protection. In light of this revision process, that’s the opposite of what the DC government is telling our neighbors.

I support a process through which the deliberation and decision-making leading to any revisions are transparent, and available to everyone in the community who wishes to learn more about them. Further, I support a revision and approval process that is driven by the DC Council, not the Zoning Commission, because decisions that will have such profound impact on individual neighborhoods need to be made by elected officials who are directly accountable to the people living in those neighborhoods. I applaud the efforts by local advocacy organizations such as Empower DC, and the ANCs holding OP and the DC Council accountable for this obscure process that stands to forever change the future of DC.]

Criminal Justice

11) What is your position on the possible construction of a new jail in DC? Will you commit to ensuring that a) the project is financed through public funds (subject to interest rate limits) as opposed to through a public private partnership (“P3”) (where interest rates can exceed 30% per year), and b) that the public is involved from the beginning to ensure those awaiting trial are treated more humanely?

[There have been vague discussions about constructing a new DC jail for years, without any meaningful action or progress. Meanwhile, DC has a higher incarceration rate than any state in the nation, and the current DC jail facility is woefully lacking in terms of housing inmates, supporting treatment and rehabilitation, meeting basic health needs, and setting up former inmates to succeed once they depart. This ongoing institutional neglect is not reflective of who we are as a community, and it will have a decades-long impact on our city. The process needs to be a priority.

I support funding the construction of a new DC jail using public funds. Private funding is expensive, and for many of the same moral and ideological reasons that I oppose Wells Fargo serving as DC’s bank of record, I would not support the facilitation of a private entity making substantial profits on the backs of our prison population. Private partnerships also lack the requisite transparency that is essential in a project of this magnitude, which needs to be completed with appropriate public engagement, notice, and input. In addition, discussions about a new DC jail cannot be limited to location and financing. The facility that is ultimately built will be in service for decades, so we owe it to our incarcerated population, their families, and indeed all of our neighbors, to ensure that we are creating a facility that will provide the health care, rehabilitative services, and training to position inmates to succeed in their communities once they are released.]

12) The Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act prioritizes community-led, public health focused approaches to public safety, rather than further militarization of the police.  Unfortunately, despite unanimous passage in 2016, the NEAR Act was only fully-funded last October, and several of the most important provisions of the law are still not implemented. If elected, what will you do to ensure that the life-saving and community-empowering approaches in the NEAR Act are fully, faithfully, transparently, and successfully implemented by the administration? Please be specific regarding how, if elected, you plan to utilize the Council's oversight and budget authorities, as well as your personal voice, to ensure that the Mayor and administration fully and effectively implement this law.

[As someone who has worked in Congress and in a federal agency subject to strict oversight, I know firsthand that the best thing we can do to ensure that critical laws like the NEAR Act are implemented in full by an administration is to leverage the legislative power of rigorous oversight. The current Ward 6 councilmember chairs the DC Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, and has had an opportunity to put public pressure on the Mayor to fully implement the law by using this committee to continuously highlight the ongoing issues in our communities that could be directly addressed by provisions of the NEAR Act should they be prioritized and implemented. He has declined to do so, so it would seem as though the most impactful step we could take in furtherance of more aggressive oversight and implementation of the NEAR Act would be to replace Mr. Allen as Chair.

I am encouraged that the NEAR Act has been fully funded, and the release of the first dataset required under the law is a positive step. The release also shows that we have a lot of progress to make on things as simple as following a criminal offense from arrest through prosecution and sentencing.

Addressing the root cause of crime and focusing on preventive and other health services rather than incarceration makes our communities safer. Investing in new offices that will provide access to treatment for residents with mental illness and substance use disorder will save lives. Our MPD officers are to be commended for the work they do in our communities, and they will benefit greatly from the opportunity to gain additional resources for training and data collection. Improving police interaction with residents for whom English is not their primary language, or for those with mental illness or substance use disorders will improve the safety of officers and our citizens. 

The specific concerns around the creation of an Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement do not seem to be borne out by data, as the program it was modeled after seems to have been proven effective in Richmond, CA, both in reducing the number of firearms on the streets and reducing the number of reported shootings. It is a relatively new and innovative policy, which means it is inherently controversial, but the fear of unintended consequences appears to be unfounded. Of course, the program should be subject to rigorous oversight to ensure that we are making the progress the Council sought when passing the law in 2016.]

Education

13) After 10 years of mayoral control, we still face significant challenges in our public schools, as evidenced by the recent scandal of absenteeism and students graduating despite not meeting requirements. What is your position on maintaining mayoral control, versus returning authority to an elected school board?

[I am fully committed to our DC public schools. My husband and I plan to send our daughter to public schools in Ward 6 from K-12. The recent graduation scandal was incredibly disappointing, in part because of the behavior of our city employees and officials, but more so because of what it means for the future of the children who left school without receiving the skills they need to be successful adults. For that to have happened means we as a community have failed those children, and anyone in our government who played a role in knowingly allowing the scandal to occur must be held accountable.

Education experts have studied and debated the structure of public education in our cities, specifically as it relates to whether governance by a school board or Mayoral control leads to the best results for students and accountability to officials. Some suggest that the school board model leads to more access and accountability within communities, though studies also show that turnout in urban school board races is often about a third of what it is for a Mayoral race, which means fewer voices are deciding who will lead our schools, and wealthy stakeholders are more easily able to influence outcomes. A recent school board election cycle in Los Angeles attracted tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions from educational interests, which made the issues, and the money, increasingly difficult to track.

I would like to see DC have this conversation. If we can implement a school board model that protects our elections from the influence of national stakeholders that have spent substantial money to elect school board candidates in other cities across the nation, I would support doing so in order to increase accountability at the neighborhood level. Many experts believe that Mayoral control allows for a level of transparency and accountability in a way that a more disparate school board system with high turnover cannot, which is why large cities throughout the nation have been transitioning to a Mayoral control model over the last ten to twenty years. We should be able to subject a school board to the same transparency and oversight requirements we expect of the Mayor.

The other overarching benefit articulated by those cities that have made this shift is that Mayoral control allows for long-term policies to be implemented without the deviation and policy shifts that result from a panel of regularly-changing school board members. Setting and executing large long-term goals is a very worthy goal, so a move to a school board model must include a governance model that would not impede such policy objectives from being identified and carried out. One model that could further these ends would be a school board with an at-large chair who is elected to serve a longer term than other members, in order to provide the institutional stability needed to drive long-term reforms, while still requiring the support of, and accountability to, the board members on an ongoing basis. There are undoubtedly other school board models and best practices that could achieve this same goal, so that is an area worth exploring with input from experts and stakeholders.]

14) If elected, what legislation do you support or propose to hold charter schools to the same standards as traditional public schools, particularly with regard to special education and the Freedom of Information Act?

[I strongly support legislation that requires DC charter schools to be directly subject to FOIA laws. As is too often the case with the DC Council, several progressive jurisdictions have already taken this step, and it is time for our elected officials to follow this commonsense example. Charter schools receive substantial taxpayer funding each year, and in exchange for that ongoing funding it is exceedingly reasonable to demand high standards when it comes to performance and disclosure. There are inevitably instances where the Public Charter School Board (PCSB) is not able to be fully responsive to important FOIA requests that serve the public good, so it is reasonable to so expand our FOIA laws to include the nonprofit entities running the schools themselves. 

DC has long fallen short relative to the rest of the nation when it comes to providing educational services to students with special needs, which makes the need for ongoing standards, transparency and oversight all the more important in our public and charter schools. I would support legislation to require charter school teachers to hold a license in Special Education, which is the same requirement to which DCPS teachers are held. I would also support modifying the reactive trigger policies currently in place, which inherently mean that in order for an audit to occur, damage has to have already been done to our special education students, perhaps because they were excluded from enrolling in a school, or expelled or suspended at a higher rate than their peers. These are problems we should be able to proactively avoid, not wait to respond to. PCSB policies should be changed accordingly.

Unfortunately, the high number of nonprofits operating charter schools makes uniformity and oversight difficult for city officials sitting outside the PCSB. To alleviate the difficulties associated with ongoing oversight and compliance, I would support increased funding and authority for OSSE so they can fully exercise oversight and compliance activities and fully enforce IDEA. In concert with a push to expand the DC Council’s oversight activity in this space, something the Council has historically been hesitant to undertake, requiring certain charter school documents be filed with, and retained by, OSSE would hold charter schools and city officials accountable for performance and standards to a greater degree than is currently possible within our current system.]

15) If elected, will you commit to push for an immediate markup and passage of the Language Access for Education bill, which has been bottlenecked in the Council for three years? Why or why not?

[Yes. The number of residents in DC for whom English is not a first language continues to rise, yet DC lags behind most progressive cities in the nation with respect to accessibility to government services. As a Latina, this bothers me at a very personal level. At a minimum, we should be ensuring that children in our schools for whom English is not a first language are given the tools and resources to be successful, including translations of essential information and other materials that will contribute to their success.

As part of any further consideration or markup of this legislation, I would like to see the thresholds that trigger the presence of a language liaison be lowered from what has currently been proposed. A school could conceivably fail to meet the 5 percent or 500-student threshold and still be the only educational resource for a substantial number of children who will need assistance in order to succeed in school. I would suggest a method through which all students can be provided targeted support based on demonstrated need, without respect to whether their school meets a designated threshold.

It is important for our elected officials to recognize that this problem exists beyond the walls of our schools. DC provides fewer language resources to Spanish-speaking residents than other large cities, even as our Latinx population continues to rise, perhaps in part because unlike most major US cities DC has never had a Latinx elected to serve on its legislative body. I have heard stories from DC immigration advocates about domestic violence and other crimes being misunderstood or mishandled because our law enforcement and court system is unable to provide adequate language services. I have lost count of the number of times I have encountered and assisted Spanish-speaking neighbors in our pharmacies, on the Metro, in the Department of Motor Vehicles, and at other municipal buildings that provide basic city services, who are unable to navigate the building or access the services they seek without assistance. The ability to access basic services shouldn’t be dependent on whether someone happens to run into a neighbor who speaks their language. We must make it a priority to enforce the existing DC Language Access Act and ensure that the resources and benefits available to this community are sufficiently funded.

Most importantly, everyone in our city deserves to feel as though their government sees them, and understands their lives. This is one reason I am proud to be the only candidate running in Ward 6 who speaks to voters in Spanish. When our elected officials do not have direct knowledge of – or experiences in – these situations, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they do not prioritize thoughtful debate and timely solutions to these pervasive everyday problems.]