D.C. Council Candidates Debate Gentrification's Impact

Early voting in a special election to fill an at-large D.C. Council seat began Monday, and the six candidates in the field clashed in a debate over the impact of gentrification and the city's declining African-American population.

At WAMU, the candidates in the special election set for April 23 battled over how they'd spend city money.

By noon, fewer than 100 early voters had turned out in what is expected to be a low-turnout election citywide that could have a dramatic impact.

The D.C. Council now is 7-to-6 majority white and in the next election could become 8-to-5 white. Only two of the six candidates are African-American, including Anita Bonds, who was appointed temporarily to the seat. She said African-Americans make up 50 percent of the city and should hold on to their representation on the council.

“People want to have their leadership reflect who they are,” she said.

Statehood Green party candidate Perry Redd, the other African-American candidate, agreed.

Each of the six candidates -- including Ellisa Silverman, Matthew Frumin, Pat Mara and Paul Zukerberg -- said they could represent the whole city regardless of race. Each also vowed to keep gentrification and the city's growing prosperity from displacing too many poorer citizens.

Only about 10 percent of the city's registered voters are expected to vote in this election, which does not have a runoff.

Early voting ends April 20.

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