Alan Page:  Green Party candidate for At-Large City Council

Alan Page: Green Party candidate for At-Large City Council

by Chris McDonald

Disclaimer:  What’s Hot Washington (Maximum Watts Inc.) does not endorse political candidates.

Alan Page is running for At-Large City Council in Washington D.C, representing the D.C Statehood Green Party.  Green Party candidates represent a somewhat radical change from the norm, refusing corporate donations and essentially bucking the trend of a two party system.  In a country where Republicans and Democrats continue to push their ideological views, Mr.  Page represents those who are thinking independently, which is refreshing.

Why did you decide to run for City Council at Large, and why now?

I decided to run for Council when I saw a good friend of mine, Kymone Freeman (alongside many others), fight to get a 1 percent tax increase on income above $200,000 included in the fiscal year 2011 budget, as opposed to balancing the then-$100 million-plus budget shortfall through cuts to our safety net. The Council shot down this valiant effort eight votes to five. I want to be the sixth vote in favor of preserving our safety net and seeking to balance the budget through other means. Mayor Gray’s current budget proposal includes a 0.4% tax increase on income above $200,000, but even this modest increase is opposed by sitting Councilmembers. I want to be on the Council to fight for those who have the least, as opposed to the other Councilmembers who seem intent on only fighting for those who have the most.

Were you at all inspired by the campaign of Delano Hunter, the young man who ran for Ward 5 council in the last election?

No, I was not, although I did see his campaign posters very often because I live near Florida Avenue NE, a border between Ward 5 and Ward 6.
What about your background and experience qualifies you to fill the position?

I have worked extensively with young people through several nonprofits (Midnight Forum, One Common Unity, Helping Inner City Kids Succeed and more) as well as through my organizing experience in the arts community. I also worked with the homeowners association on my street to eliminate the open-air drug market climate that permeated my street when I purchased my home in 2003. Finally, I worked with H Street Main Street to make H Street NE more amenable to business growth and have witnessed great strides in that area over the years. In short, I have a lot of experience working with the people to get results and I want to bring that to the Council.

What makes you a better choice than your opponents?

I am the only candidate whose party— the DC Statehood Green Party—explicitly does not accept corporate donations. Corporate influence has been ruinous for DC politics, leading to corporations getting tax breaks and tax incentive financing that lines corporate pockets but does little to benefit the average District resident (and especially not the poorest DC residents). I want to be a voice for change and my party’s active stance against accepting corporate donations is a great step in that direction. I will work for the people because I only accept donations from the people. Other candidates either will be influenced by corporations or create the impression that they may be influenced by corporations when their parties accept corporate donations. I am also the most progressive candidate in the area of proposing new ways for the city to earn revenue, such as seeking PILOTS from universities and NGOs via negotiation between the CFO and these entities.

What is your platform?

My platform centers on the need to include everyone in the prosperity that has come to the District in recent years, increasing our tax base and reducing division by shrinking inequity. I follow this conviction by stating emphatically that we cannot balance our budget on the backs of the poor and by planning my budget priorities based on this belief. We have to craft future budgets with the aim of improving the lives of the least of us, to pull up the poorest residents in our city so they feel like they’re a part of the newfound prosperity in our city that we see reflected in an ever-rising cost of living and a growing area median income. Social programs that promote workforce development, stringent oversight over laws requiring District residents to be employed at the rate of 51 percent of all projects operating off of city dollars or with tax favored status (i.e. “first source law”) and continued education reform both for children and adults are key ways that we can expand the pool of prosperity and reduce financial inequality in our city.

What are your thoughts about the current controversy in the new mayor’s administration?

I tend to focus more on the mayor’s bad policy decisions, such as deciding to burden human services (26 percent of the budget) with 60 percent of the cuts in his proposed budget, than I spend thinking about his bad personnel and personal vehicle decisions. The former bad choice will affect the lives of thousands; the latter only affects a small portion of the budget (even though some harm may have been caused by hiring inexperienced people at the Department of Health, which is charged with saving lives in the District through preventative health policy and health policy).

You are a long-standing and respected member of DC’s Hip Hop community.  Some have called Obama the “Hip-Hop President”.  Do you consider yourself a “Hip-Hop candidate”?

Not particularly. I grew up listening to many forms of music, but this is only one facet of my personality. I also think that calling Obama “the Hip-Hop President” is reductive. He and I are both more complicated than that.

Do you think it is more important nowadays for musicians, in the Hip-Hop community and otherwise, to understand politics and help their fans understand them as well?

Absolutely, but I think it is important for everyone to understand politics, not just nowadays but into the future as long as this country exists. The occasional fixation with having hip-hop artists politicize their audience does not take into account the role that everyone has to play in the political process. It’s everyone’s job to be involved: democracy is a team sport. Sure, I grew up on Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions, but I would have been politically knowledgeable without rap, because my parents are politically knowledgeable.

Do you think it is more important nowadays for musicians, in the Hip-Hop community and otherwise, to understand politics and help their fans understand them as well?

Absolutely, but I think it is important for everyone to understand politics, not just nowadays but into the future as long as this country exists. The occasional fixation with having hip-hop artists politicize their audience does not take into account the role that everyone has to play in the political process. It’s everyone’s job to be involved: democracy is a team sport. Sure, I grew up on Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions, but I would have been politically knowledgeable without rap, because my parents are politically knowledgeable.

What are your thoughts about the current relationship DC government has with the arts community?

I watched a documentary where a factory town in Massachusetts revitalized itself by using the arts as the engine of economic recovery, specifically a regional arts museum. Galleries, restaurants, and other small businesses flourished after the factory that had left town was transformed into a large arts gallery. On H Street, the Atlas Theater was primarily responsible for the revival on the east side of H Street. Bars and restaurants followed in the wake of the re-opening of the Atlas, to service people brought to H St NE by the Atlas. The District has not done enough to use the arts in a comprehensive way to spur economic development.

The arts are not just something that feels good or only produces aesthetic pleasure; the arts are also a way to drive pedestrian traffic to underserved areas in a manner that revitalizes urban corridors. In the late ‘90s, I worked with a group of idealistic young people in an arts collective named The Amphibians. We put on one of the first hip-hop open mics/showcases in the city in 1997 and attracted a diverse range of people to the U Street corridor. Other groups, such as Generation 2000 and Live Society held events as well (and Republic Gardens regularly drew upscale clientele to the street). Eventually, U Street was flooded with commercial investment (the presence of a Metro stop admittedly helped). What this anecdote demonstrates is that the combination of arts and transit can revitalize urban corridors and spur investment. The District needs to figure out how to strategically combine the work of the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities with larger economic development efforts to utilize this underused resource: our artistic community.

What are your thoughts on The House of Representatives passing a bill to reinstitute D.C School Vouchers?

I oppose this measure on several levels. First, I am generally opposed to Congress imposing its will on the District in any way, because the District does not have a vote in Congress; this is despotism by definition. Second, I am opposed to the use of public funds to finance private institutions, because I favor the use of public funds in public institutions over which the public has oversight and in which the city has ownership. Third, I oppose the use of public funds for institutions such as private parochial schools that refuse to abide by the Human Rights Act and who discriminate against LGBT students and employees, as well as discriminating against students and employees by religion.

The media continues to make us feel like we are at a critical point in our country.  Should we believe the hype, and what steps can each of us take to make sure this country continues to prosper?

Every generation has a duty to help make this country better for the generation that follows, so in that respect, I believe that every generation has faced a critical point in our nation’s history. We’re no different and it is not hype, it is the historical reality of a country where every generation hopes to live a better life than the last. To live up to that promise, we will have to change our consumption of fossil fuels, de-escalate our military spending, and invest in alternative energy and a green jobs-based economy. If we don’t do these things, other countries competing with us in the global market will and the generation that follows us will *not* be as prosperous as we are today.

For more information on the Alan Page  movement, check out his blogspot.

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