In less than a week people will go to the polls to choose a Councilmember at-large in the District of Columbia to fill the seat vacated when Phil Mendelson was elected Council Chair. There are six candidates running and each is still trying to convince the voters that they are the right person to sit on the Council. Many of them are making good points on their own behalf and would serve the District well.
But one, Patrick Mara, is showing clearly that he is the wrong person for the District. Many believe I oppose Mara because he is a Republican but that is not the case. I have supported Republicans in the past, including Mara when he first ran in 2008. I thought then he meant what he said and would fight for the positions he took on social issues. But since that time I have realized it was all just pandering to voters -- something he continues to do today. I supported and was a co-chair of Carol Schwartz's issues committee in 1994 when she came closer than ever before to defeating Marion Barry for mayor.
So my problem with Mara isn't that he is a Republican but rather what he supports, his apparent ethical lapses, and the total hypocrisy of his positions. This week we found out two new things about Mara. One that he is opposed to raising the minimum wage and thinks $8.25 an hour is a living wage in the District. The second was reported in a Washington Post story and is that Mara made money by using his 2008 campaign donor list to raise money for the conservative group DC Progress, now renamed the R Street Institute. Mara claims that the work he did for the group involving his campaign list was actually different than what was called for in a contract he confirmed he signed. Either way the candidate who claims he will watch others ethics now clearly needs someone to watch his own. Ken McGhie, general counsel for the D.C. Board of Elections, said he has "never heard anything close" to the agreement Mara signed. Joseph Sandler, who specializes in election law was quoted saying current or former candidates "cannot benefit personally from a resource that belongs to the campaign."
Voters in the District are the most progressive voters in the nation. Polling on issues from women's rights to marriage equality has shown that the people who live and vote in D.C. believe strongly in equality and individual rights. While Mara talks a good game and has appeared to fool many people, the fact is that despite his talk he acts against these positions. While many moderate Republicans, among them Colin Powell, have stood up against their party when they felt that it was going against their principles Mara hasn't. Not only hasn't he stood up within his party for what he tells the voters he believe, he has supported as a delegate, with work and money, the most conservative candidates his party has ever put forward. If Mara had his way, Mitt Romney would be president instead of Barack Obama and we would have the next Supreme Court Justice appointed voting against same-sex marriage and to overturn Roe v. Wade. Add to that while Mara sat on the board of D.C. Vote he supported a candidate who would have vetoed statehood for the District and as a member of the State Board of Education, he supports school vouchers (giving public funding to private schools), which in D.C are used 52 percent for sending children to Catholic schools, some of which actively discriminate against children, parents and teachers in the LGBT community.
Mara does not represent the views of the people of the District of Columbia, which makes him wrong for the people of D.C.
This column first appeared in the Georgetown Dish.