Op-ed: Why I support Randy Downs for D.C. Council

Thomas Falcigno is a graduate student pursuing a master’s in political management from the Graduate School of Political Management. He also serves as a senator and chairperson pro tempore of the Student Association Senate.

On Tuesday, Ward 2 voters will have the opportunity to elect a new Council member who will represent many GW students during their four years at the University. I am urging you to support independent candidate Randy Downs for that seat.

I have known Downs for quite a while now. We both play on the same LGBTQ-friendly Stonewall Kickball team. In getting to know Downs, I have seen firsthand his dedication to his community, commitment to public service and tireless advocacy work, all of which will make him incredibly effective at representing the interests of Ward 2 residents on the D.C. Council.

For the past four years, Downs has served on Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission, representing the residents of Dupont Circle. Randy has been a strong advocate for transgender rights, affordable housing and increased accessibility. When the pandemic hit, Downs walked the streets, working with the District and businesses along 17th Street to help keep their doors open. If you walk down 17th Street, you will immediately notice its vibrancy, with patrons eating along the street in multicolored booths at almost every restaurant. If it wasn’t for Downs’ quick action to create these “streeteries,” many of the businesses along 17th Street would have likely had to shut their doors, putting hundreds out of work.

One issue that students frequently discuss is transportation. How do we affordably and efficiently get to internships and jobs while at school? Downs is the only candidate with a detailed plan on how to fix transportation for Ward 2 residents and us students. Downs proposes expanding the protected bike lane network by 20 miles, following through on a K Street Transitway and lowering Metrorail and bus fares – all of which are substantive ideas that could tangibly benefit students for years to come.

Downs’ candidacy offers a progressive vision for Ward 2, unlike his opponent, Democratic candidate Brooke Pinto, whose short-lived stint in the District and lack of understanding of how our District government functions proves she cannot adequately represent the interests of her new neighbors on the D.C. Council. Her financial supporters, which include anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ Trump allies, like former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, show us that her values do not align with the values of Ward 2 residents, let alone the citizens of D.C. Ward 2 would be smart to resoundingly reject Pinto and her dark monied interests from the Ward 2 Council seat.

For too long, Ward 2 has been represented by crooks and cronies that only seek to enrich themselves and advance the interests of their own egos. Ward 2 residents and students deserve to have someone in their back corner who will fight to make our District a more ethical, progressive and inclusive place. Downs exceeds that criteria for the Ward 2 Council seat. I implore locals and students who can vote in Ward 2 to support Downs and learn more about him here.

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