Joshua Lopez is emerging as a contender in the At-Large D.C. Council special election.
While it’s too early to say who will rise to the top of the field of more than 15 candidates, interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle, Republican Pat Mara, Ward 8’s Jacque Patterson, and progressive favorite Bryan Weaver are getting the most attention. But the 27-year-old Lopez has been coming on strong.
Lopez, an Adrian Fenty ward leader in last year’s mayoral race, and the driving force behind the Write In Fenty campaign, is getting support from many Fenty loyalists, and is also benefiting from being the most visible Latino candidate. He submitted his ballot access signatures weeks before the deadline, and has raised more than $6,000. His signs are appearing on lawns around the city. And he is the only candidate who is bluntly criticizing Mayor Vincent Gray.
“I just want to be the guy who keeps the government honest and accountable,” he told DCist. “I think it’s dangerous to have a city council that’s simply going to rubber stamp everything [Gray] wants to do and not even question it, question what’s going on. I think I’d be the perfect guy for that.”
Another part of his message could also resonate: Lopez wants councilmembers to take a pay cut, the Washington Post reports.
“Taxpayers are struggling to put food on the table right now,” Lopez said. “Meanwhile, city councilmembers, who work part-time and presided over most of the policies that led to the city’s debt, are making large sums of money.”
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* Washington City Paper reports businessman George Chopivsky, “who is trying to buy the United Medical Center in Southeast, recently paid the woman reported to be Mayor Vince Gray’s girlfriend $37,500 for lobbying help.” The Post says Gray “is seeking to remove four Fenty appointees from the governing board” of the hospital, saying that he “was concerned that the four board members were members of Fenty’s administration and that he was interested in members that ‘have expertise in governing a hospital.’”
* Gray is creating a panel to conduct a nationwide search for a new D.C. schools chancellor, as required by law. Interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson will be considered.
* Gray nominated Lorraine Green, who chaired both his campaign and transition team, to be a member of the Washington Convention and Sports Authority. He also nominated City Administrator Allen Lew for the board.
* The Washington Times reports D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown wants to “bring on a financial adviser to aid lawmakers as they begin work” with Gray on the budget. Brown said the “adviser would be working on a ‘pro bono’ basis.”
* The Washington Examiner reports D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan “has dropped dozens of drunken driving cases since Jan. 31 and hundreds of others could be dropped as the police department shuts down its troubled alcohol breath-test program.” District breathalyzers were found last year to have been providing inaccurate readings for several years.
* In her Examiner column, Jonetta Rose Barras says that while Beatriz Otero is certainly qualified to serve as the District’s deputy mayor for health and human services, she opposes the selection because “for the past four years, the District lived without” that role, and another deputy mayorship, filled. Gray “has been trying to fix something that wasn’t broken,” and the city cannot afford it, Barras argues.
* Florida Rep. Allen West suggested in an interview that perhaps D.C. residents should not be required to pay federal income taxes. So will he be offering such a bill? According to Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser, nope.
* Maryland state Senate President Mike Miller, a Democrat who opposes same-sex marriage, says the chances of gay marriage legislation “passing the Senate at 60 percent to 70 percent, but said the vote count ‘is going to be very close,’” the Post reports. “He suggested that the bill would get somewhere between 22 and 25 votes in the chamber,” where 24 are needed for passage.
The Baltimore Sun says Miller “renewed his promise to help prevent the legislation from becoming mired in an endless floor debate. If the sponsors can collect their 24 votes, Miller said, he will find the 29 votes needed to cut off a filibuster.”
Sen. Allan Kittleman, the former Republican leader and the only member of the GOP caucus likely to support the bill, said the civil unions option he once backed “would consign gay couples to less than equal status,” the Maryland Daily Record reports.
* The Frederick News-Post reports Jan Gardner, the former president of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners, will serve as Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s state director, directing the senator’s five state offices.
* The Sun reports former GOP congressional candidate Charles Lollar “has been named as director of the Maryland chapter of Americans for Prosperity.”
* The Post reports Gov. Bob McDonnell “got free airfare from his alma mater to attend a football game at the University of Notre Dame last year, a trip to the National Governors Association meeting from the chairman of the board of footwear company Crocs Inc., and a painting of George Washington from the Virginia National Guard Foundation” in 2010. McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling “received more than seven times the gifts and trips as Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli,” but “got less, in dollar value, than previous governors.”
* The Examiner reports Bolling broke a rare Senate tie Tuesday, boosting a bill “to change the state’s budget-writing schedule to odd years, rather than even ones,” over the top. The measure is intended “to give incoming governors more time to craft their two-year budgets.”
* Is Alexandria the nation’s most romantic city? According to Amazon.com it is, Washington Business Journal reports.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC