Key in DC election: Tipped worker wages, race for general council

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Election Day is unlikely to bring drastic change to Washington this year, with Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) all but assured of a third term as leader of the capital. But voters will have a second chance to vote on whether companies should be required to pay tipped workers the full minimum wage, and will shape the leadership of the city council in an election where at least one member in exercise of the legislative body is sure to lose their place.

Thanks to mail-in ballots mailed to every registered voter, drop boxes dotting the city and a slew of in-person early voting centers, well over 50,000 residents cast their ballots ahead of Election Day. Many who shared moderate optimism about the state of the district – pleased with the city’s leadership and prosperity in many cases, but often eager to find solutions to persistent problems like crime and high costs of lodging.

“I watch some of the things that are happening in DC, and I want to make sure we’re continuing in the right direction. I love the growth of the city and want to make sure we bring everyone with us,” said Fannie Barksdale, a retiree who lives in Ward 5. develop. I love that you have stores in your neighborhood. We just have to bring the less fortunate.

DC Elections: What you need to know about Initiative 82

To that end, Barksdale supported not only Bowser’s re-election, but Initiative 82, a ballot question that asks voters whether tipped workers should receive the full minimum wage paid to other workers or should continue to receive a lower minimum wage. supplemented with tips. Barksdale believes all workers should be paid the full minimum wage, which was the winning position when the same issue was on the ballot four years ago. This time, the DC Council repealed the measure; Council Speaker Phil Mendelson (D), who is likely to win his re-election bid, signaled he would not intervene if residents embrace the initiative again, after leading an accusation against her there is four years old. Several other council members made a similar promise.

“Not everyone tips when you walk into a restaurant, and we know that’s their job – everyone deserves minimum wage,” Barksdale said. Charlene Pierce, a retiree who lives in Ward 7, said she thought long and hard before voting in favor of Initiative 82. “It’s a catch-22 for everyone. How will employers fare if they raise wages? And how are the workers going to get by if they can’t get a raise? »

Others struggled with the issue for different reasons: Kevin Lambert, a 75-year-old Columbia Heights resident, intended to vote against the measure. He fears this will hurt businesses by increasing costs. But he didn’t realize that the initiative question was on the back of his ballot. ” Shit. It’s too late now,” he said with disappointment.

DC servers and restaurateurs battle for ‘minimum tip’ initiative

Regarding her choice for mayor, Pierce said that when she called government offices about abandoned cars and other nuisances in her neighborhood, she found the response slow. She worries that government officials, including Bowser, care less about the needs of poor neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, which have been historically underserved.

“I don’t think we’re getting the respect we deserve as voting citizens and taxpayers,” she said. Still, she voted for Bowser, noting there were no well-known opponents on the ballot for her to choose from. “She doesn’t always make me happy, but she does a good job.”

For Red Grant, DC mayoral race is ‘about purpose rather than popularity’

The most competitive race is for two at-large seats on the DC Council. Three outgoing council members – two who currently hold the general seats, Anita Bonds (D) and Elissa Silverman (I), and one, Kenyan R. McDuffie, who represented Ward 5 as a Democrat and is now running for the city sits as an independent — are competing with five additional candidates.

This competition focused on a number of issues. Bonds, who chairs the council’s housing committee, has faced criticism in light of a searing report last month from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development on public housing in the city. Silverman, a left-leaning board member who chairs the labor committee and has focused on workplace issues, including the city’s creation of paid parental leave, has long been a target of business owners; many flocked to support McDuffie, and some for the independent Graham McLaughlin.

As the only Democrat on the ballot, Bonds is likely to win a seat, staging what many see as a contest pitting Silverman against McDuffie for the remaining spot.

DC Elections: Here’s Where the General Council Candidates Stand

Both racked up new donations in the final weeks of the campaign, according to campaign finance reports due eight days before the election. Silverman, who takes public funding — which caps the amount donors can give him but matches the money with city funds — has received just over $75,000 since Oct. 10 and has spent more than $142 $000 in those weeks. McDuffie – who is ineligible for public funding after using it in his abortive primary campaign for Attorney General and can therefore accept much larger private and corporate donations – has raised more than $72,000 over the past few years. weeks, mostly from donors who gave the maximum of $1,000, and spent over $152,000.

By comparison, McLaughlin — who has been an excellent fundraiser for a first-time candidate, raising more than $280,000 in total with public funding — has taken in just under $29,000 in recent weeks, and Republican Giuseppe Niosi raised $1,325. Other at-large candidates did not file their final campaign financial returns on time.

Silverman criticized some of McDuffie’s and McLaughlin’s donors, arguing that the interests of wealthy developers and corporations carry too much weight in city politics. McDuffie and Niosi, meanwhile, criticized Silverman for a recent ruling by the city’s Office of Campaign Finance that she shouldn’t have used taxpayer money to poll a neighborhood-level race ahead of the New York primary. June.

She was ordered to repay more than $6,000 she spent on the poll, but appealed the ruling, which came after a formal complaint from one of her other opponents, Karim Marshall, who touts her experience drafting legislation as a member of council staff.

DC’s heated general council race is an unusual competition

Race is also a salient factor in the contest: Silverman is white and McDuffie is black.

“Some people are concerned that the council will be majority black and want to support Anita and Kenyan, which would help the African-American community retain a majority of seats on the council,” said longtime Ward 8 activist Philip Pannell. There have been discussions about it – it’s important to the political power of African Americans in the city, at least mathematically.”

The board has a black majority, with seven out of 13 members. The most likely outcome is that the board will continue to have seven black members if Silverman wins or drop to eight black members if McDuffie wins.

Reginald Wills, a doctor who lives in Ward 5 and voted in person in early voting, declined to say who he chose in the overall race, but said he was only interested in black candidates. “The city is becoming very gentrified. I’ve been here 45 years,” said Wills, who believes Bowser and other black leaders ably supported local businesses and provided good municipal services.

Racial dynamics matter more to some observers than a left-vs-moderate split, though McDuffie is more moderate on taxation and other issues.

“At first glance, when I said I supported Kenyan McDuffie, some people might have been shocked,” said Markus Batchelor, a former member of the State Board of Education known as a leader in the left-wing militant community of the town. “We have to think of our politics as being more nuanced than that. People who very often define what ‘progressive’ means, in a very stark way in our city, don’t necessarily look like me or look like Kenyans… If you go to progressive spaces, they don’t fit that aesthetic that clearly, at least from my perspective, would benefit the most from progressive policies.

Bridget Reavis-Tyler, a retired city government worker, opted for Marshall, a newcomer to the overall race. “I try to bring new blood into this, even though I’m old,” she said. She said she worried about gentrification during Bowser’s administration. “She was doing a lot of building, letting stuff in and not doing anything for people, forgetting who voted for her.”

Five other DC Council spots are also up for election, with the winners of the Democratic primary favored to win in each race. In addition to Mendelson, incumbent Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) expects re-election. Holder Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) is undisputed. In Ward 5, Zachary Parker — the left-leaning former school board member who won a competitive Democratic primary — takes on Republican Clarence Lee Jr. In Ward 3, another left-wing primary winner, Matthew Frumin, takes on Republican is running against Republican David Krucoff, who trumpeted his endorsement of the Washington Post editorial board, which is separate from the news operation.

The same four wards — 1, 3, 5 and 6 — also have races on the ballot this year for their State Board of Education representatives. In the race for attorney general, Brian Schwalb, who was backed by incumbent attorney general Karl A. Racine (D) before winning the Democratic primary, is unchallenged.

The ballot also includes elections for DC’s nonvoting delegate to the U.S. House (longtime delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is a big favorite to take the seat), shadow congressman, and commissioner. neighborhood advisory, a hyperlocal office.

Polling stations will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents can vote at any polling place in the city, regardless of their home address. A full list of polling stations on Election Day is available here.

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