At-Large Councilmember David Grosso announced earlier this year that he would not be running for reelection to the Council. This opened the floodgates for prospective candidates vying for his seat, whose numbers now surpass twenty. In concordance with the District’s “Home Rule Charter,” two of the four At-Large Council seats must be occupied by Councilmembers that do not belong to the Council’s majority party, which is the Democratic Party. Grosso’s soon-to-be-vacant seat is one of these two.
Because of this, nearly everyone campaigning for the seat is an Independent, save for three candidates: Ann Wilcox of the Statehood Green Party, Joseph Henchman of the Libertarian Party, and Marya Pickering of the Republican Party. Historically, the non-majority At-Large seats have typically been held by Independents.
The sheer volume of candidates looking to take Grosso’s spot can, understandably, be intimidating for those who plan to vote for more than just the President on November 3rd. For this reason I have compiled who I consider to be four of the most interesting candidates in the race, so as to kickstart the research process of whoever this election may concern.
– Orange formerly held an at-large seat on the DC Council from 2011 to 2016 that he left under controversial circumstances. Prior to this, he represented Ward 5 on the Council from 1999 to 2007. In 2016, while still in office, he became president of the DC Chamber of Commerce, a decision that drew widespread criticism from pundits and his fellow councilmembers and led him to resign from the Council. Having recently renounced his position at the Chamber of Commerce, he is once again making a bid for Councilmember At-Large.
Despite Orange having sported a moderate-to-conservative record in his past, opposing same-sex marriage in 2006 (a stance he flipped in 2010) and supporting restrictions on medical marijuana and adult entertainment businesses, he is known for his consistent support of a higher minimum wage.
– Batchelor is the current vice president of the State Board of Education and the youngest person ever elected to the board, having begun his tenure in 2016 at the tender age of 23. Batchelor, who also represents Ward 8 on the board, is seeking to follow in the footsteps of Trayon White, who represented Ward 8 before Batchelor and is now a Councilmember.
Much of Batchelor’s record revolves around erasing opportunity gaps and empowering and qualifying the younger generation, as well as his own. He has worked with organizations aimed at supporting the youth, most notably the Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute, and currently works with the People for the American Way’s Young Elected Officials Network, an organization focused on the support and guidance of young elected officials across the country.
– Palacio resigned from her post as the DC Office of Human Rights Director this February and announced that she would be running for the At-Large seat. The Washington Blade writes that Palacio’s time with the OHR included the adoption of “aggressive policies to fight discrimination targeting transgender women and LGBTQ people in general.” In her seven years in the position, Palacio fervently fought to instate and protect transgender employee rights and “citywide gender-neutral restroom initiatives, according to DCist.
In-keeping with her record, public safety is one of the core incentives of Palacio’s current campaign. She is a staunch advocate for support systems for families and traumatized persons, as well as for community policing and education equality with a focus on underserved communities.
– Finally, a 19-year municipal policy veteran, Lazere, who formerly served as the head of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, considers himself as “the person who has the most experience in working across the city with people and organizations and with policymakers to get things done.” The language of some DC news outlets suggests that they believe Lazere is one of the most progressive candidates vying for the seat this November. He has said that his decision to campaign was inspired by his concern for the impact of gentrification and growing inequality in the District.
In 2018, Lazere unsuccessfully ran for Chairman of the DC Council, focusing his campaign on the expansion of affordable housing and combating homelessness. He is admired in local progressive circles for his aforementioned priorities, and his impassioned fight for paid family leave.
A comprehensive list of candidates in DC municipal elections this year can be found here.