Wells Kicks Off Mayoral Candidate Speaker Series
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 03:10
Mayoral candidate and D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) promoted his campaign platform at a speech in the Georgetown University Law Center’s McDonough Hall on Tuesday afternoon.
Wells’ speech was the first in a series of candidate presentations sponsored by the Law Center Democrats, who have invited all declared Democratic candidates to speak prior to the primary election in April.
“I’m really running to change government in a way to make it governed by the voters and not just by those who give us money,” Wells said.
Wells, a second-term councilmember who began his career in the District as a social worker in 1985, is currently running without any corporate contributions.
The councilmember stressed his vision to strengthen the District’s neighborhoods through his “five-minute living” plan, in which all basic necessities, such as food, schools, stores, transportation and parks, are within five minutes’ walking distance.
“When I first ran for office, I was thinking, ‘Why do people live here, and why are they moving here?’ and I laid out a vision about creating livable, walkable neighborhoods,” Wells said. “If you want to fix transportation for the country, it’s not about adding more car lanes — it’s land-use planning.”
To make the city more accessible, Wells emphasized the importance of the D.C. public transit system, which he characterized as insufficient.
“Our city does well with a Metro that takes you in and takes you out, but we don't connect our neighborhoods very well,” Wells said. To solve this problem, he would add streetcars, which hold twice as many people as buses do, and expand the Circulator and shuttle-bus systems.
During the speech, Wells also touched on the topic of budget autonomy. Through the recent negotiations regarding the federal government shutdown, the District won temporary budget autonomy until September 2014. To Wells, however, this is not enough.
“I do know that some members of Congress have said we don’t deserve our own autonomy because we have had a corrupt government,” Wells said. “You have to have a government with integrity. The rights we have as a District should not be based on the behavior of our elected officials.”
Wells took the opportunity to direct attention toward his recent legislative activities. Over the summer, Wells introduced a bill to the D.C. Council that would decriminalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, particularly in response to the supposed racial discrimination present in current marijuana laws. Recently, Wells co-introduced a bill to raise the D.C. minimum wage from $8.25 to $10.25 in the next two years.
Wells closed by urging those in attendance to take ownership of changing the District and to fight against the power of large corporations with deep pockets.
“This is a different kind of campaign,” Wells said. “It hopefully will be something that continues around the country, where voters and individuals take back control of our government, so it is not simply a pay-to-play system.”
Those in attendance seemed impressed by Wells’ plan, particularly his vision for creating livable communities.
“I think he’s an excellent candidate for mayor. His focus on livable communities really hits a chord with everyone in D.C.,” Patrick Simmons (LAW ’14) said. “No matter who you are, we all want to live in a safe neighborhood with access to education. I think he’s the guy that can deliver that.”