DC for Democracy’s special election questionnaire for the Ward 4 Special Election asked the following question about income inequality.
While income inequality is far more than just a local issue, Washington has been ranked fourth highest among major cities in the country in the size of the income gap between upper and lower income residents. Do you think this broad income disparity is an issue the Council can and should address? If so, why, and what specific proposals/steps do you think should be considered? If not, why?
Ward 8 special election candidates’ responses are below. Candidates who are not listed did not respond to our questionnaire.
Yes. I believe the Council can and should place redistribution policies in place (must address income inequality) not only to benefit of those at the lower end of the income scale, but also to benefit DC society in its entirety. Both the rich and the poor lose quality of life when they live in economic (and largely racial) segregation.
I would reduce income inequality through these steps:
Improving education for children and promoting lifelong learning for adults — to make it possible for many more DC residents to get jobs that already pay at the upper end of the income scale.
Giving many more workers and their families the opportunity to enter the middle class — by raising the minimum wage and by increasing Earned Income Tax Credits.I support the Fight for Fifteen — raising the minimum wage a little each year until it reaches $15 an hour (and then adjusting it annually to account for inflation).
Furthermore, I support expanding the program that has now proven successful at the federal level — where hard working people in low paying jobs can get back not only get back all the money their employers withheld for taxes but a little extra money, through the Earned Income Tax Credit. The DC Government should expand this program to allow additional Tax Credits for DC residents who work hard all year but whose salaries doom them and their families to poverty while others live in prosperity.
Finally, I would fight to fund “quality of life” benefits like public parks and swimming pools and free Internet access, so everyone can enjoy the such benefits — without regard to their income levels.
Yes. The DC Council has the authority to affect the wages of District workers. For instance, one area where the Council could help to decrease income inequality is by increasing the wages for tipped workers. This could be done by either raising the minimum wage for tipped workers to the full minimum wage as it is for other District workers or, to a specified percentage of the minimum wage.
As a Councilmember I believe income inequality in the District is exceedingly worrisome and represents a significant challenge for our low income families. For these families that fall into the low and moderate income sphere putting food on the table, paying for education related expenses, and health care coverage are extreme burdens. We must work to ensure affordable housing is accessible and that individuals can take full advantage of tax breaks to help them get by.
According to Census data, there are more millionaires and high income families moving into the District than ever before residing in downtown, southwest, Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights and upper northwest neighborhoods. I personally don’t think the Council will and should do anything to address this. This type of residency brings lucrative businesses and new revenue streams to
the District. When you get boutiques from Hollywood’s Rodeo Drive establishing outlets in DC, that’s a positive, not a negative. Abandoned properties, downtown strip clubs or whole-in-thewall businesses are being replaced by stores known to the rich and famous. This is good for the DC economy.
However, there are other income disparity issues at another level that can be addressed starting with discriminatory employment practices by gender and race. It has become an accepted and common practice that Blacks are giving less wages with the same education and experience as their White counterparts. The more well-known income inequality issue is that of equal pay for women who perform the same tasks as men but receive less income. Being raised in a family of six women, after the passing of my father, I was the only male. I have testified, demonstrated, protested, petitioned and lobbied members of Congress to pass the ERA bill and all other corresponding measures to ensure women’s equal pay rights. Last month, I hand-delivered letters to 40 members of Congress about this issue.
There is another area that the Council can and should look into immediately to assist District workers, who love in Ward 8. The Council should force DCPS to honor its union bargaining agreements to give pay raises according to the contracts. There are hundreds of bus drivers and attendants, who provide services for handicap and special needs students who are still waiting for pay raises over a year ago. Honor this agreement. Give the workers their pay retroactively. Many of these workers were former TANF recipients or are recipients on government subsidized programs based on income. When their incomes increase, the
government subsidizes less. This should be a no-brainer.
“S.S” Sandra Seegars
I believe income inequality is an issue the Council addresses and they have done so by increasing the minimum wage. Income can be based on the tenure of the employee, and the job title. I believe the jobs that an uneducated person can obtain is never going to equal to the ones an educated person can obtain. That is why adults, rich and poor, stress the importance of education. Job experience also heightens the salary.
Yes. I support an increase in minimum wage. If billion dollar corporations want to do business in the District, they should be prepared to pay our residents fair wages with benefits. Our residents must be prepared for the jobs that are comining into the District. This not only boosts the economy but reduces disparities that exist and assists residents in becomimg independent, finding affordable housing and to establish themselves in being productive citizens in society. I support proposals to establish a minimum wage toward the $13 within the next few years, with raises of about $1 per hour each year. After that, the increases should be more gradual, for example half a dollar per hour per year, until workers reach the $15 level. Then increases to adjust for inflation should continue each year.
Yes, I think there is something everyone can do including the City Council to address this issue of income inequality. I propose better job training and educational opportunities, so the residents can become better prepared for jobs when they apply and advancement wherever they might already be employed.