Patrick Mara is running for an At-Large position on the D.C. City Council. I don’t have plans to highlight all local candidates on the blog but the Mara campaign headquarters fall within the Triangle at 1004 6th Street NW so I feel he’s mention worthy.
Mara is a republican and defeated longtime incumbent Carol Schwartz in the primary. David Alpert, founder of Greater Greater Washington, had a chance to sit down with the various candidates and endorses Mara whom he says is the first Republican he will have ever voted for in his life.
Mara could have (and perhaps should have) run as an independent. After all, he’s not much like today’s national Republican leaders at all. Mara supports gay marriage and abortion rights, for example. Mara doesn’t own a car, and hasn’t since high school, in fact. He commuted by bicycle from his Columbia Heights home to his energy consulting gig before he started running full-time.
Mara believes DC’s future rests on raising the population back to the 800,000 we had around 1950 (today, DC has only about 588,000 residents). Quite simply, there’s no way we can fit 212,000 more cars (or even half that) in the city. There’s not enough room to park them and no more road capacity to move them about. Instead, most of the new residents will have to get around by Metro, bus, walk, or bike.
Mara would like to see more bus service, streetcars, and an expanded Metro within the District. He believes in building more trails, and keeping Klingle Road shut. He supports measures to improve bicycle safety, like the three foot rule in Graham’s recent bill. Education is Mara’s top priority. He says he decided to run for Council after mentoring three young children, one east of the Anacostia River where dropout rates reach 50%, and seeing the way our education system is “letting kids down in a big way.” Families who don’t “win the lottery to go to a charter school” have to either pay huge sums for private school, move to Virginia or Maryland, or suffer under a bad system. He’s a strong supporter of Fenty’s education reform efforts (as are all the candidates I spoke to).
Alpert also sat down with Independent candidate Michael Brown who polls indicate to be the front runner for the at-large council position. In their discussion Brown seems to be for slowing down development of the city and favoring cars (wider streets, more municipal parking garages) over density and walkable urbanism. The Washingtonpost agrees and also supports Mara.
Brown has run for various city offices in the past including Mayor. It’s likely some voters will cast for him simply because his last name is the same as another popular councilmember (Kwame Brown). But if you value walkable city living you should consider Patrick Mara. The Republican party affiliation matters little. Alpert sums that up succinctly:
To me, having one candidate with whom I disagree on some bread-and-butter Democratic issues matters little. The Council has eleven Democrats, the maximum number permitted by law. Even if Mara is on the opposite side from me on, say, health care or workplace safety (not that I know how Mara would vote on any particular such measure), if seven of those eleven can’t agree on a bill, I’m not sure how good it really is. Besides, we’ve had a Republican in the past, and a much worse one for transportation, gay rights, and many other issues.
With my preferred presidential candidate likely to win DC in a landslide, the Ward-6 Council seat not on this election cycle, and my ANC6C01 candidate (Keith Silver) running unopposed, I consider the Council at-large votes to be the most meaningful I will cast.