It should be noted -- I think the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics is doing a great job as is. It's probably one of the few D.C. government institutions that engages actively residents through Twitter, and it serves as a reliable source of information on all things election-related.
Yesterday evening the Georgetown Dish and Georgetown Current hosted the second candidate forum of the Special Election campaign season. The forum, which took place at the Social Safeway in Georgetown, included the participation of Sekou Biddle, Bryan Weaver, Jacque Patterson, Josh Lopez, and Vincent Orange. Dorothy Douglas, who had been at a State Board of Education meeting, showed up late. And though Tom Brown and Alan Page weren't invited (they hadn't won a ward-level race or raised more than $18,000, conditions set by the organizers), they appeared at the end and made brief statements.
All told, the forum touched on a number of issues, including the budget deficit, education reform, university expansion plans, and tax abatements. It also included a number of more light-hearted questions, including favorite councilmember, favorite movie and current form of transportation.
I'm putting together some thoughts on the issues that were debated, but for now I'd like to share a timeline of how the debate played out over Twitter. A number of the attendees, myself included, live-tweeted the proceedings, and the outcome, displayed after the jump, is a relatively accurate timeline of how the forum evolved. Of course, the sampling of Twitter users that attended yesterday isn't representative of all the opinions that others may have had about the event and the candidates, but it's an interesting snapshot.
Over the weekend, two stories broke that have provoked plenty of chatter amongst followers of local politics -- D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown was found to have demanded a fully-loaded luxury SUV that costs almost $2,000 a month in taxpayer funds, and a number of senior officials in the administration of Mayor Vince Gray have seen hefty pay raises relative to their counterparts during Mayor Adrian Fenty's tenure.
Candidates for the seat once occupied by Brown aren't staying quiet, looking to turn the controversies into strong campaign talking points.
Pat Mara, the sole Republican in the race and the first candidate to call for councilmembers to take pay cuts, tweeted this morning, "Chairman Brown has been careless with taxpayers’ money. 1st, he needs to apologize, no excuses. Then he must negotiate an end to SUV leases." The D.C. GOP, of which Mara is a senior member, has also railed against such spending excesses on its Twitter account.
For anyone interested in how many nominating petitions each candidate turned in, the District's Board of Elections and Ethics was more than happy to indulge. Each page continues 20 signatures, so with some basic math you get rough approximations as to how many signatures each candidate gathered.