Barras: David Grosso, a change agent for the D.C. Council

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Local,DC,Jonetta Rose Barras

"I think I'm a candidate of substance. I don't think [Michael Brown] puts the effort in to give a full thought," David Grosso told me recently. "If you want to make a big difference, you have to be there and be present."

He gets no argument from me for his shot at the incumbent at-large D.C. councilman he hopes to unseat in the Nov. 6 general election -- although Democrat Vincent B. Orange Sr., who is up for re-election also, deserves some criticism.

"I'm the good-government candidate," continued Grosso, a native Washingtonian with a rich history of employment and volunteer experiences that have helped shape his philosophical and practical view of government and politics.

For a time, Grosso worked as a dishwasher and busboy at Colonel Brooks' Tavern in the same Brookland community where he now lives with his wife, Serra Sippel. He was a volunteer at the District's Sojourner Center. At the Brethren Volunteer Service in San Antonio, he helped build a shelter for women and children. Later, after finishing law school, Grosso was on the staff of former D.C. Councilwoman Sharon Ambrose and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

His legislative focus while with Ambrose -- reform of alcohol beverage regulations and economic development, for example -- offers testimony to his understanding of how to shape public policy to help residents and businesses. It also suggests a level of comfort with holding the executive branch accountable for the implementation of laws passed by the legislature.

That's a package District residents need. They should make Grosso their first choice for at-large councilman in the Nov. general election.

Early voting starts Monday. Voters can choose two candidates. The top vote-getters will be declared winners. By law, one of those must be from the nonmajority party. As an independent, Grosso meets that criterion.

The city's constitution does not prohibit residents from selecting both candidates from outside the dominant party. Consequently, voters may want to make independent A.J. Cooper their second choice.

But Grosso has earned the top spot.

He has garnered support throughout the city, including from Ambrose, former council members Kathy Patterson and Bill Lightfoot, current Ward 6 legislator Tommy Wells, the Current Newspapers, the Sierra Club and my colleague Harry Jaffe.

Grosso has called education his primary issue, asserting the "government has the responsibility to lift underperforming schools" and there should be a separate council committee focused solely on education.

He has advocated "smart economic development." Lamenting the plight of a former neighbor who was forced to move to the Trinidad community, he has argued for a more permanent revenue stream to finance production of affordable housing. He also has pushed for regulatory changes.

Equally important, Grosso has championed ethics and campaign finance reforms.

"I have good strong ethical background; I understand what needs to be produced, and I can hit the ground running," Grosso said. "We all agree the time for change is now."

So, don't hesitate. Vote David Grosso for at-large councilman.

Jonetta Rose Barras can be reached at jonetta@jonettarosebarras.com.

Jonetta Rose Barras' column appears on Tuesday and Friday. She can be reached at jonetta@jonettarosebarras.com.

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