Intersections, front yards and lamp posts around the District are adorned with different colorful signs this fall as 24 candidates seek election to two seats on the DC Council. Under its Home Rule Charter, one of those seats is reserved for non-Democratic Party candidates.
Democratic incumbent At-Large Councilmember Robert White (D) is standing for reelection having won the Democratic Party Primary last June. Current incumbent At Large Council Member David Grosso (I) has decided not to run for reelection.
District residents will have the opportunity to select two candidates on their Nov. 3 general election ballot and at least one of their choices must be a non-democrat.
Meet the Candidates
Claudia Barragan (I) is running on a focused platform of equity, diversity and action. Barragan boasts more than 20 years of experience in public service including service as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, a former policy staffer for Ward 8 Councilmember Trayvon White (D). Barragan brings an urban planning skillset to the race with experience in land use, zoning and environmental policy. If elected, Barragan would be the first immigrant woman to serve on the DC city council. www.claudiafordc.com
Markus Batchelor (I), just 27 years old, if elected would be the youngest current member of the council. Batchelor has served four years as the Ward 8 representative on the State Board of Education and previously served on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 8C. Batchelor is focused on reforming education to make it more equitable, increasing paid family leave, improving transportation access for District residents including making the Metro free and improving quality and access to healthcare east of the river. www.markusfordc.com
Mario Cristaldo (I) is an immigrant from Paraguay passionate about affordable housing. Cristaldo is seeking to create a DC that is affordable, livable, diverse and walkable for all residents regardless of their race, economic and social status. Since moving to the District 19 years ago, he has worked on several projects including as a community organizer for living wages in Montgomery County and for living wages in the District. Cristaldo was then appointed by former Mayor Anthony Williams (D) to serve on the rental housing conversion task force. Cristaldo also supports a Green New Deal for DC, Medicare-For-All and improving access to high quality education for all residents. mario2020dc.com
Franklin Garcia (I) is the US Shadow Representative for the District and is a longtime advocate for DC statehood. Garcia was the former president and original founder of the Latino caucus and currently serves as President of the DC Latino Leadership Council. He is running on a platform of “investing in our collective future” including increasing job skills training in the public schools, prioritizing District residents in the local job market, ensuring communities feel safe and supported through improved police-community relations and monitoring development and infrastructure with a focus on local businesses and construction. Garcia is also an advocate for increasing the availability of affordable housing in the District and supports relaxing regulations that make it challenging for tenants to get into homes. Franklinfordc.com
Marcus Goodwin (I), a native Washingtonian and developer of affordable housing, is seeking to apply his business acumen to promote more equitable economic development in the District. Rising crime and homicides are his other priorities. He previously served as the President of the DC Young Democrats and currently serves on the boards of Run Hope Work, the Afterschool Alliance, the CEO Program and the Young Real Estate Council. This election is not Goodwin’s first rodeo. In 2018, he ran as a Democrat against incumbent At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds (D), coming in third place. This year, Goodwin has been endorsed by the Washington Post. www.goodwinfordc.com
Kathy Henderson (I) is a longtime Washingtonian and advocate for affordable and a high standard of housing, literacy and education, improvement for police-community relations and economic opportunities for all residents. A biologist by training, Henderson has been a public servant for many years serving as an AMERICORPS teacher, a local activist in her own community and as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. While serving, she has become aware of issues with housing and violence within her own neighborhood and she is committed to making DC communities and neighborhoods a safe place for everyone to live if elected. kathyhendersonfordccouncil.com
Christina Henderson (I), as the former chief of staff for current incumbent Councilmember Grosso, is running with his endorsement. In her time working for the council, Henderson worked extensively on education policy. Currently, Henderson serves as legislative staffer for US Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Henderson is most interested in finding climate justice and sustainable environmental solutions in the District, improving access to affordable housing, school access and safety and early learning and care. Henderson has been endorsed by the Washington Post. www.christinahenderson.org
A’Shia Howard (I) is a fifth generation Washingtonian who is committed to addressing issues facing the District and her family. Howard believes that the economic and social disparities in DC are linked and has plans to address several differences. She plans to work to expand community programs for the District’s homeless population, law enforcement reform including mental health considerations for officers, reform of senior care and addressing neglect situations for the District’s elderly populations and increased inclusion in housing so all who want to live in DC have the ability to do so. howardfordc.com
Chander Jayaraman (I) is a self-proclaimed “true independent” running to increase equality in DC government for all residents. Jayaraman is committed to creating change at the governing level to put residents and their interests first. The ANC commissioner is also an advocate for securing public safety through funding of social programs such as mental health services and economic assistance. Jayaraman wants the District to be more inclusive of residents in economic employment and implement job training programs and protocols to assist people seeking and training for employment. He also has plans to expand educational offerings in the District to include more hands-on opportunities for students through internships and apprenticeships to help students forge paths into adulthood. chander2020.com
Ed Lazere (I), former executive director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, is running with an emphasis on accessibility and social change. The longtime District resident and advocate is focused on housing equity and affordability, expansion of public transportation systems to improve access for District residents, improving access to healthcare in underserved areas and pushing for D.C. statehood. Lazere has been endorsed by the D.C. attorney general Karl Racine, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Jews United for Justice among many others. edfordc.com
Jeanné Lewis (I) is passionate about building and empowering communities and is committed to investing in the people of the District. As the current vice president and chief engagement officer of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, which advances bipartisan discussion in Congress and in other government agencies, Lewis has professional experience in building alliances and promoting justice among marginalized groups. Lewis is focused on ameliorating the current housing crisis and creating sustainable housing for all, increasing accessibility to great schools for all children in the District, working to assist small business infrastructure and increasing access to maternal and child healthcare. Jeannelewisatlarge.com
Will Merrifield (I) is running for public office as an act of solidarity with community organizers and activists seeking economic justice in the District where previously private developers often have made decisions. Merrifield believes that the DC government has put profits ahead of people for too long and he plans to change that. Merrifield got his start in political activism in the District through the de-industrialization case in Congress Heights where he advocated for residents to have equitable living options and conditions against a powerful, politically connected developer. If elected, Merrifield plans to remove the profit motive for developers and completely overhaul the affordable housing system to make housing a right rather than a commodity. Merrifield is also focused on decreasing unemployment and a ‘true living wage’ to ensure residents only have to work one job to provide for themselves and their families. willfordc.com
Rick Murphree (I) is a business leader, veteran and educator running to improve DC’s economy, veteran’s affairs and education system. Murphree is striving to create an economy that works for all DC residents, especially working class families and small business owners. He supports programs that ensure a living wage and businesses that hire and promote locally. He is also committed to using grants and other funds to assist veterans in job searches and providing high quality health care and mental health services to those who have served. Murphee also believes in the importance of good education, regardless of the neighborhood that the child grows up in. He emphasizes his attention to gentrification and other housing issues as root causes for these inequalities and pledges to address them if elected. Murphreedc.com
Vincent Orange (I), former Ward 5 and At Large councilmember, is running to represent everyday Washingtonians. Orange previously served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce as well as serving as a Ward 5 and At-Large councilmember. Orange is committed to rebooting the District’s economy, extending universal paid leave benefits to nonresidents who work in the District, free tuition for resident students at the University of the District of Columbia and providing students with free technology, internet access and vocational education opportunities to further their education. Additionally Orange plans to pursue legislation that will implement a removal process, enact term limits, ban outside employment for elected officials if elected. vincentorange2020.com
Monica Palacio (I) is running on a platform focused on racial justice and equity. Palacio was born in Colombia and raised in New York City in rent-controlled housing. She cites her experience growing up and experiences with poverty and prejudice as fueling her campaign and run for the DC Council seat to protect civil rights of minorities, improve quality and access to education in the District, particularly in traditionally underrepresented areas and to advocate for DC statehood so that all voices, particularly minorities, are heard. Palacio attended Georgetown University law school and currently serves as the Director of the Office of Human Rights in the District. www.monicafordc.com
Alex Padro (I) led the revitalization of the Shaw neighborhood. The sitting advisory neighborhood commissioner currently chairs ANC 6E’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Licensing Committee and sits on its Transportation and Zoning and Planning Committees. Padro is also the executive director of Shaw Main Street. Padro’s top issue is economic reform where he seeks to implement changes across the District to help ameliorate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Padro is focused on community building and expanding affordable housing, serving seniors, supporting small businesses and promoting equitable development to rebuild a safer, healthier and more prosperous place for all residents to live. AlexPadro.com
Marya Pickering (R) is the lone Republican running for the DC council seat. As an active member of the DC Republican party for more than 20 years, Pickering’s top issues are care of the homeless and seniors, improving the local education systems and increasing the responsibility of the DC government. Pickering is also an advocate for tax breaks for seniors, implementing both private and public efforts to help the homeless, growing second chance employment and the use of opportunity zones. In education, Pickering supports increased funding for charter schools and parents’ rights to school of choice. The candidate believes improving local government through accountability and management and advocates for city-wide trash clean ups and assisting small businesses. Marya2020dc.com
Keith Silver (I) is a lifelong Washingtonian running on a platform to make the District a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable place for individuals to live and to work. As a self-proclaimed progressive activist, progressive economic development policies, community engagement, affordable housing, living wages and social justice are his top priorities. The four-time advisory neighborhood commissioner has worked on fair housing, budgeting, senior services previously and plans to continue this work on a broader scale if elected. Keithsilverfordc.com
At Large Councilmember Robert White (D) is seeking re-election to the DC council in the 2020 at-large race. White is running on his proven track record of fighting for transparency, accountability, efficiency and equity. White has previously introduced and co-sponsored legislation regarding housing conditions, and early childhood, secondary and adult education. White is the chair of the Committee on Facilities and Procurement and is the Vice-Chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Board of Directors. White previously served as legislative counsel to DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) on Capitol Hill. robertwhitefordc.com
Ann Wilcox (G) is running as a member of the DC Statehood Green Party. The party is focused on progressive issues such as DC statehood, saving McMillan park as a natural green space and publicly electing a school board. Wilcox previously served on the DC school board from 1994-1998 and is consumer law focused lawyer by training. Wilcox’s top issue is affordable housing and she hopes to address the failure to expand rent control further if elected in addition to working on the Green Party agenda. statehoodgreensofdc.org.
Four additional candidates have registered with DCBOE to appear on the ballot for the at-large seat, but did not respond to requests for inclusion in this article. Joe Bishop Henchman (I) is a libertarian, DC based lawyer and policy analyst. Dr. Michelangelo Scruggs (I) is a pediatric physician. Addison Starter (I) is a DC resident and affordable housing advocate. Calvin Gurley (I) is a DC based accountant. Eric Rogers (I) is a District native and the former president of the DC Black Democratic Caucus.
The DC General Election will be held on Nov. 3. Again, voters can vote for as many as two At-Large candidates on the ballot.