Carolyn Steptoe speaks on issues affecting Ward 5 and the city at large.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Questions From Statehood/Green Ward 5 Committee

Campaign Release #1

Statehood/Green Party Ward 5 Committee
“Statehood/Green Party Ward 5 Committee Members Want To Know About Ms. Steptoe”

1. What is her political philosophy? My political philosophy is wide-ranging and issue oriented. I have been a registered member of the Statehood Party for over ten years and prior to that I was a registered Independent. I believe that government has a role in ensuring that all District residents have full and equal access to all of the benefits and services of our city.
2. How long has she been a Brookland resident? I have resided in Brookland since 1998 and I am a native Washingtonian.
3. What are her criteria for desirable development in Brookland? As a council candidate, I think my focus on development must extend beyond Brookland and include all of the Ward 5 neighborhoods and indeed the entire city. I believe it is imperative that we look thoughtfully at the impact of development on city residents. (This is not just a DC issue, urban development is a national issue.) First, as city council candidate, I believe it is incumbent upon the council to understand the destructive displacement that can and does result from unbridled development. Gentrification and historic designation are issues that have gained considerable prominence recently in Ward 5. All too often, such issues are considered synonymous with urban development, resulting in further class and race stratification. This has been demonstrated in innumerable think tank and policy studies. Our elected officials must be mindful and careful about how they proceed with urban revitalization and be cognizant of the potential byproducts of such revitalizations. The continued and growing inequities in the provision of city services to our residents, and in particular the historically underserved residents, are obvious byproducts of the current development onslaught. We see this in the disparities with respect to our schools, healthcare for underinsured and uninsured (particularly critical in a city where HIV infection is at epidemic proportions), police protection, services to the elderly and mentally challenged communities, recreation facilities and green spaces.
4. How would she describe class relations in Ward 5 (and in D.C.)? Certainly we cannot ignore the undergirdings of race and class tensions exacerbated by the city's revitalization. The issues of race and class must be addressed openly by our elected officials. Focusing on such issues was strongly encouraged by various studies in other cities confronting revitalization. However, with or without rapid urban revitalization, our city’s race and class relations are no different than what exist in most American cities. To gauge relations is to first address the caliber of city services provided a neighborhood (or community). Based on class and racial construct, we would compare city services against neighboring counterparts and interpret the findings. However, I believe there is enough data currently on file to indicate the findings would be stark.
As City Council candidate, I believe, both with respect to Ward 5 and the city at large, we must be attuned and responsive to the long-standing (and previously neglected) needs our city's residents while simultaneously attempting to revitalize our city. The goal will be to create a fair, equitable, and balanced strategy for Ward 5 and the city. In that connection, in both commercial and residential areas, a hallmark of desirable development will be the extent to which existing businesses and residents will be assured continued viable places in the community. Desirable development cannot be a means by which existing businesses and residents are displaced. In commercial development the emphasis should be on businesses that will employ local residents and increase the number of times the dollars of residents are recycled in the community. In residential development, the goal should be, to the extent possible, increasing home ownership among existing residents and ensuring that existing residents are not forced out of the community. A thoughtful and people-centered development can improve the tax base and city services without displacing existing residents.
I am going door to door to introduce myself to Ward 5 Statehood registrants and voters. I am happy to address the Assembly and others.
Thank you for your support.
Carolyn C. Steptoe
Informal Questions Posed During Statehood/Green Party Ward 5 Committee
6/24/06 Meeting – Woodridge Library
Questions received on 6/24/06 from Ward 5 Committee Statehood/Green Party, Chair, Debony Heart
(Answers submitted by Candidate Steptoe 6/25/06)