The Green Party nominee for Ward 2 launched his campaign for D.C. Council Monday to offer a progressive alternative to the Democratic nominee and independent candidates.
Peter Bolton, a journalist and American dual citizen from the United Kingdom, said he stepped into the race to challenge Democratic nominee and short-term incumbent Brooke Pinto and independent candidates Randy Downs and Martin Miguel Fernandez, who both joined the race this summer. He said the District has become a “one-party state,” and the Democratic Party has moved too far right to offer a progressive candidate in Ward 2.
“Part of the reason I wanted to stand to run and contest this election is to give voters more of a choice and to try to break this dominance that the Democratic Party has had for so many years in this city,” Bolton said.
Republican nominee Katherine Venice withdrew from the race last week, leaving Pinto, Downs and Fernandez as the three active campaigns in the Ward 2 race until Bolton’s launch.
Bolton qualified for the ballot earlier this year when he ran for the Green Party nomination uncontested, and he said he now launched his campaign in hopes of giving voters “a real choice” for D.C. Council. He said he wants to challenge Pinto because of concerns like her alleged campaign finance violations, a lack of “progressive credentials” and her alleged failure to vote in a D.C. election before 2020.
Bolton said his other opponents, Downs and Fernandez, are “switchers” because they changed their party affiliation from Democrat to Independent to challenge Pinto ahead of the general election. He said their late entry into the race following the Democratic primary damaged the democratic process and took advantage of a law designed to permit smaller parties like the Green Party to receive nominations in a general election.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’re every bit as tainted by the failure of the Democratic Party to offer a progressive agenda than Pinto herself is, and by the way, I think that this whole practice of going independent just for one race is very duplicitous,” Bolton said.
If elected to the Council, Bolton said he would push for public ownership of city utilities like electricity and water, which he said should be provided “at cost” to eliminate profiteering by companies like Pepco or Exelon. He also hopes to advocate for D.C. statehood by 2025 by blocking the federal government from utilizing D.C. resources if it fails to compromise.
“The Council hasn’t done enough to put pressure on the federal government so I would suggest having measures like disallowing the federal government from using city amenities or hosting events at D.C. public schools,” Bolton said. “If they’re not going to be good guests, then we shouldn’t be good hosts.”
Bolton said he also wants to remove all Metro fares to make trains and buses more accessible for low-income commuters.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled businesses and damaged personal finances throughout D.C., Bolton said he wants to continue temporary policy plans put in place to help local residents weather the economic recession. Bolton said if elected he would solidify a permanent moratorium on evictions, work toward a single-payer health care system, ramp up funding for public housing and ensure the city maintained one health clinic for every 20,000 residents.
“The pandemic has really just exacerbated a lot of things that were already problems long, long before anyone ever heard of COVID-19,” he said.
Bolton said he can respond to widespread demands for racial justice by defunding the police, distributing reparations to the descendants of enslaved people, placing D.C. jails under municipal control and removing the federal government’s authority over parole systems. He said he also wants to decriminalize all drugs, endorse a bill that encourages non-lethal use of police force without guns and assemble a committee that works to eliminate homelessness in the District by 2025.
“One of the great problems we have in this city and throughout the United States is that the police are used to deal with issues that are not naturally within their remit – for example, mental health, for example, homelessness,” Bolton said. “So all the money that’s currently being spent on militarizing the D. C. police, I would redirect that toward public health services, toward services for the homeless.”
To drive his campaign forward leading up to the election, Bolton said he hired a campaign manager, launched campaign accounts on Facebook and Instagram and plans to poster around Ward 2 and host a Zoom call with voters sometime later this fall.