Staff Editorial: Robert White’s vision for D.C.’s future deserves your vote

D.C. voters will decide the Democratic candidate for mayor in next week’s primary elections, and given the city’s historic support for Democratic candidates, the vote will likely decide the city’s next mayor come November. Incumbent Mayor Muriel Bowser is facing both new and returning challengers from across the District, all of whom are looking to unseat her over residents’ concerns about education, public safety, homelessness and other issues.

While the city may have weathered the worst of the pandemic, the next few years will test Washingtonians’ and their new mayor’s ability to address longstanding and new political issues. When we walk past homeless encampments, dodge speeding cars, struggle to pay rent, wait for delayed Metro rides, read reports of violent assaults and worry about the impact of climate change on our world and on our city, we see problems that D.C. still faces despite Bowser’s eight years in office.

But we know our leaders can do something about each of these issues, and we believe at-Large Council member Robert White is the candidate best suited to address them – The Hatchet’s editorial board endorses Robert White as the Democratic candidate for mayor. White’s detailed proposals on issues from homelessness to bike infrastructure outline a more progressive vision of D.C., and after eight years of Bowser’s stewardship, Washingtonians need a mayor with a fresh perspective. His comprehensive and forward-looking plans would allow D.C. to move toward a more progressive and ultimately better city.

The Hatchet’s editorial board based our decision on the issues that mattered most to us and our community, like transportation, housing costs, public safety and homelessness. We want a mayor who can address these issues but also understands where we were coming from. After reaching out to ask each candidate about their platform, Robert White’s team was the only one to respond. While White’s response to our questions was far from a deciding factor in our decisions, we felt it signified his campaign’s interest in discussion, collaboration and consultation with his constituents – especially among young people.

The Mayor of the District of Columbia is undoubtedly a difficult position to fulfill. In the end, we had to decide between Bowser – the establishment-type Democrat who has led D.C. for the past eight years – or Robert White – a progressive with exciting ideas for the city’s future but whose time on the Council doesn’t necessarily guarantee his success in the mayor’s office.

White’s plans on homelessness, housing, education, mayoral control of D.C.’s public schools, crime and transportation are too bold to pass up – especially when Bowser would simply provide more of the same. The progressive vision behind White’s campaign is of a more dynamic, resilient and equitable D.C. – one that has a responsive government that can support all its residents’ current and future needs. From expanding transit accessibility and building sidewalks and crosswalks that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act to loosening mayoral control over the city’s schools and investing in affordable housing, White has an attention to detail and a capacity to care that other candidates lack. His signature proposal, a jobs guarantee program for every Washingtonian who wants one, is similarly audacious. But working to provide stable and good-paying jobs that would help D.C. residents install solar panels, plant trees and maintain urban farms in their communities represent a commitment to protect D.C. and its residents from a climate that is increasingly in crisis.

Beyond differences in policy, White’s approach provides a marked difference from Bowser’s I-alone-can-fix-it attitude. When Greater Greater Washington asked each candidate about their plans to create priority bus lanes garnering opposition, Bowser said, “This is my plan, I will see it through.” White, a fifth-generation Washingtonian, instead stressed his ability to talk to people on both sides of the issue. D.C. residents need a mayor who will work for them and with them – not around them.

Electing Robert White would provide an alternative to Bowser’s current vision for the District. Bowser seems fixated on her past achievements and progress, and understandably so as an incumbent candidate with a long record. Part of that record involves dealing with one of D.C.’s most notorious residents – former president Donald Trump. When police officers forcibly removed protestors from Lafayette Square in the summer of 2020 so Trump could stage a photo opportunity, Bowser renamed part of 16th Street, which leads directly to the White House, to Black Lives Matter Plaza in a show of solidarity with the protesters. But in 2022, do voters need a candidate who touts “standing up to Trump” as one of her major campaign issues? Bowser’s extensive record also includes forcibly clearing encampments with construction equipment and endangering the people living there. These policies are logically and morally wrong, and they are a stain on Bowser’s leadership.

Regarding the other candidates, Trayon White is a tireless advocate for residents living across the Anacostia River, but his past antisemitic remarks made us question whether he can represent all Washingtonians. And James Butler’s plans for police reform combine both “tough-on-crime” and progressive ideas, but it’s unclear how those would actually work in reality.

We look forward to covering whomever D.C.’s next mayor may be, but more importantly, we look forward to working with them to create a better city. Whether it be Robert White, Trayon White, James Butler or Muriel Bowser, the next mayor has their work cut out for them. We believe that Mayor Robert White will have what it takes to do the job.

The editorial board consists of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s staff editorial was written by opinions editor Ethan Benn and contributing opinions editor Riley Goodfellow based on discussions with research assistant Zachary Bestwick, copy editor Jaden DiMauro, culture editor Clara Duhon, design editor Grace Miller and contributing social media director Ethan Valliath.

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