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Get to know the candidates for Ward 4 City Council

By Megan Sims/Howard University News Service
On February 9, 2015

Eighteen candidates are now running for Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser’s empty Ward 4 City Council seat. This is the first of a series looking at the candidates.

Robert J. Whitaker
Age: 70
Retired real estate broker and currently a street minister
Party: Democrat

Why are you running?
I am tired of sitting on the sidelines complaining about the things that disturb me until the point that I am overwhelmed at what is happening.

What makes you qualified for the position?
I run my own business and I understand what it takes to run a business.  I have always been involved in Ward 4.  I do volunteer tutoring with lovely children in public schools.

What are some of the biggest issues plaguing Ward 4?
My main concern is that there seems to me to be the orchestrated destruction of public schools.  I am not anti-charter, but the thing that I don’t like about the charter is that the monies that are used to operate these charters come out of public school funds and that money is never replaced.  The other thing that I am concerned about is the lack of formal training, or education, has a lot to do with the orchestrated genocide of our young Black males, as well as government participation in this genocide.

How do you plan to tackle these issues?
I plan on fixing these issues by making it a primary issue in the minds of all of the citizenry and bring it to the attention of those that are directly affected and those who are unaffected how important this is to the collective.

Bobvala TengenBobvala Tengen
Age: 29
Government consultant
Party: Democrat

Why are you running?
I used to work for five government agencies and in that experience, I realized that I really enjoy public service and connecting with the community.  I believe that I can continue to do that as a councilmember.

What makes you qualified?
Based on my experience, I will be able to assist with committee matters and all the committees in council. I’m ready to craft legislation and also make recommendations to the agencies to improve their services.

What are some of the biggest issues plaguing Ward 4?
Education is the basis for most students and lack of education can lead to other issues, like violence. My goal is to strengthen the schools in the ward and allow students to have the best opportunities in the schools that are closer to their homes.

How do you plan to tackle these issues?
McFarland Middle High School will be opened up again [and] and I want McFarland to be remodeled before they put students in there. Then there is also a plan for a middle school in the north region of Ward 4, but right now it’s only just on paper. So I would want to follow through and make sure that school is created. And [I] also want to create partnerships with local colleges in the area.

Lydia I. Little
Age: 49
Substitute teacher in Prince George’s County, Maryland
Party: Democrat

Why are you running?

I’ve lived in Ward 4 all my life. Second of all, I think it’ll actually make a difference with some of the things that need to be done in Ward 4 because I’m more local and more visual.

Why are you qualified?
Based on what [my predecessors] have got, I can beat out all that they have done. I meet the criteria, I’m well known in Ward 4, my relatives live in Ward 4.

What are some of the biggest issues plaguing Ward 4?
Jobs and basically security for our young people. It’s a big issue about when our kids have to cross big streets in order to get to school and certain streets do not have patrol guards. I have an idea to provide jobs for Ward 4 residents.

How do you plan to tackle these issues?
Safety patrols are one way to provide jobs, so that these intersections will be guarded and our kids will be safe. Or I’ve talked to a couple of masonry teachers at different schools to maybe develop a step beam that goes over so that maybe kids would be safe, or go under so that kids would not be hurt crossing the street.

Edwin PowellEdwin W. Powell
Age: 47
Assistant Professor, Howard University College of Medicine
Party: Democrat

Why are you running?
Besides being a father, a husband and a citizen of Ward 4, I thought that it was an opportunity to really shed light on a number of issues that had not really been focused on.

Why are you qualified?
I have experience in education and I think that’s one of the biggest problems the city has. I have experience working with the elderly in D.C. Superior Court when I advocated on behalf of aging individuals. Also when it comes to affordable housing, I’ve had my foot in that arena for a number of years.

What are some of the biggest issues plaguing Ward 4?
At the very top is poverty. The fact that we have such a strong economic growth here in the city, it has not been fed at all into the hands of the citizens. There is a lack of affordable housing. Another thing is education, While it’s improving, if you compare it to other districts and other cities similar to D.C., it’s dismal.

How do you plan to tackle these issues?
They need to be tackled from a policy prospective. Every tax break we give to investors, we have to as citizens look for some type of community benefit. It’s [also] high time that we start providing those technical [and] vocational trainings that I think are emerging.


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