This post was written by Hatchet staff writers Rachael Gerendasy and Colleen Murphy
Long seen as the corporate candidate, Foggy Bottom’s Council member Jack Evans took the stage at Thursday’s business-centered debate with more than just the home court advantage.
Evans, who has represented the area around GW for 23 years, repeatedly said D.C. needed to lower its corporate tax rate, which is one of the highest in the country, to keep companies from moving to nearby Maryland and Virginia. But as the other five Democratic candidates battled over big ideas to revitalize the city’s economy, Evans mostly touted his same platform items: reform tax rates and invest in venues like the Verizon Center.
Incumbent mayor Vincent Gray, an alumnus, said D.C. needs to better support its private businesses in “a federal government town” and said he would create a business regulatory task force.
When asked how candidates would spend the city’s projected $40 million surplus this year, Bowser said she would focus on homelessness, which she called “an emergency” crisis in D.C.
But Evans, who helped lead D.C. through some of its most tumultuous financial times, said that he would save the surplus money.
“When we get a dime, we spend a dollar. What I am intending to do with the money is hang onto it and not spend it,” Evans said, taking credit for his role as “one of the architects” of the city’s recent surpluses.
The candidates also unanimously supported marijuana decriminalization, which will reach a D.C. Council vote on Tuesday.
When asked how he would boost the economy and keep tax dollars in the District, At-large Council member Vincent Orange said he would turn D.C. into a Hollywood hub geared toward family entertainment. The idea, also floated by Evans, may be hard to implement as hit shows like House of Cards have turned to other cities.
Nearly all of the candidates said that the Metro system was underfunded, which Wells referred to as the “economic engine of our city”.
In a meeting Wednesday, Gray and the governors of Maryland and Virginia pledged $75 million in additional funding for Metro, which will help pay for the addition of new eight-car trains.
Six candidates attended, leaving out Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal and lesser-known candidate Carlos Allen, a rapper and businessman.
The debate marks the second time this week that the candidates faced off in Foggy Bottom. One month remains before the Democratic primary.