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Similarities between the two Democrats campaigning to represent Capitol Hill on the D.C. Council — Charles Allen and Darrel Thompson — are striking.
On everything from sports stadiums to transportation, the two Democratic candidates have a shared vision for Ward 6 and both push nearly identical platforms on social issues. In the April 1 primary, the question will likely come down to which candidate voters trust to see it through.
Both men are backing the $390-million 11th Street Bridge project, envisioned as a way to alleviate interstate traffic and connect Ward 6 to Wards 7 and 8 on the east side of the Anacostia River.
They both want to look at re-routing the CSX’s proposed Virginia Avenue tunnel project, saying residents in Southeast D.C. have expressed too many concerns with the current path.
Allen, the former longtime chief of staff for current Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, said in a Tuesday night Washington City Paper debate that he would “demand” the railroad network not transport hazardous materials through the neighborhood.
Thompson, a former deputy for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., supports a “re-route or no build” approach, and indicated he could call on his colleagues at the federal level to try to bring their resources into the fold.
Both Democrats find a proposal to study construction of a massive, new superdome sports complex and entertainment development in Southeast D.C. absurd, saying they would rather invest in a park that would open up access to the riverfront.
The lone disagreement revolves around who gets to “ride shotgun in the bulldozer” when demolishing 10,000 parking spots surrounding the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. “I’d love to have you ride shotgun with me,” Allen joked.
Both would also like to see the proposed D.C. United soccer stadium deal happen, but they want to make sure it makes sense for taxpayers and the surrounding community, suggesting housing, transportation and public parks are important components.
When it comes to marijuana, both candidates are pro-decriminalization, but less certain about full legalization. Thompson said he needs to study the language of a voter referendum to legalize possession of less than two ounces of pot for people 21 and older. Allen said he’s “not there” on legalization, but would stand by the will of the voters if they pass it in November.
Both Democrats also support expanding the narrow list of conditions that currently qualify for the District’s medical marijuana program. In case D.C. voters are curious — yes, both candidates admit they have inhaled.
D.C. General, a former hospital that has been converted into a homeless shelter, sits just beyond the eastern border of Ward 6. It’s a stark reminder of the city’s ongoing homelessness epidemic. Both candidates advocate for a similar solution: finding permanent housing for its residents.