You can complain all you want about the sad state of Washington, D.C.'s city council. You can grouse about the corruption fumes filling the halls of the Wilson Building, the subpoenas dropped on council members by the feds, the pay-to-play system where contractors fill campaign coffers to grease the skids for million-dollar deals.
But unless we vote for better, cleaner, smarter candidates, we get what we deserve. That's how democracy works, right? Vote for Marion Barry and you get Marion Barry, which is likely to happen again in Ward 8.
Incumbents have an edge here, as they do in most places. That's not always a bad thing. Jack Evans is running unopposed in Ward 2, which stretches from Georgetown through downtown to Shaw. Evans is a dedicated, competent and honest public servant. Ditto Muriel Bowser in Ward 4, the city's most northern ward, by Montgomery County.
In the at-large race, Sekou Biddle would be a huge improvement over Vincent Orange, a guy who's been getting along to go along for way too long. Fresh face here, please! Biddle paid his dues on the Board of Education. He's smart, daring, energetic and can start changing the game.
We need to beg Ward 7 voters to get behind challenger Tom Brown. Yvette Alexander, the incumbent, has not helped her constituents or the city at large. She comes to work every day in stylish, new clothes but brings no new ideas, no legislation, no proposals. Ward 7, which lies mostly east of the Anacostia River on both sides of East Capitol Street, is poised for growth. It deserves a new council member.
Tom Brown is exactly the type of new leader the city needs on the council. Born and raised in D.C., he comes from solid stock: His father drives a tour bus, his mother is an event planner. He graduated from H.D. Woodson High, went to college, did a tour in the Air Force. Then he came back to his hometown to work in the weeds of training kids and adults for jobs. He's been in the "work force development" sphere in a city that needs jobs and capable workers more than anything else. He's actually trained hundreds of workers! He's accomplished real, honest, necessary work!
Which is why union and business have come together behind Brown. On Wednesday, Metro AFL-CIO President Joslyn "Josh" Williams joined with D.C. Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Lang to praise Tom Brown as a man who could bridge the gap between business and labor. Expect them to fill the airwaves with calls for Brown's election.
My vote counters expect low turnout on April 3, perhaps fewer than 10,000 votes. Two other candidates will be on the ballot, in addition to Brown and Alexander. A vote for anyone but Brown is a vote for Alexander.
So fill it in for Tom Brown in Ward 7 -- and Sekou Biddle all across town.
Harry Jaffe's column appears on Tuesday and Friday. He can be contacted at email@example.com.