METRO WEEKLY: How important do you think providing oversight is to performing your job as Councilmember, and what will your philosophy be when holding government agencies accountable for policy or spending decisions?
Brian Hart (I, At-Large): Oversight is critical to the role of a councilmember. My philosophy is to be fair and diligent in holding government agencies accountable. Agencies need to have the appropriate resources and support, but, at the same time, when agencies fail to serve the public, they must be held accountable. This can be accomplished through cooperation with the agency heads and supervisors, committee hearings and reports, collaboration with the Mayor, budgetary authority, and public pressure, if necessary.
MW: The Council is often seen as fluctuating between two extremes: having an overly cozy or overly antagonistic relationship with the mayor. How can you assure voters that you will be an independent voice on the Council, and not beholden to either the mayor, other councilmembers or your political party?
Hart: I bring outside perspective and experiences to the Council. I have economics and law degrees from Amherst College and Georgetown University. I practice business and public interest law at Paul, Weiss LLP, I volunteer in the community, teaching and mentoring students at Ballou and Anacostia High Schools, and I have served as Chair of the ANC’s Public Safety Committee in Adams Morgan. If elected to the D.C. Council, I will work full-time as a councilmember, and will not be beholden to any other councilmembers, the mayor, or any special interest groups.
MW: Please share your views on how best to address LGBT homelessness, not only for youth, but for adults, families, and senior citizens. What are your proposals for ensuring District shelters are adhering to the nondiscrimination protections in the D.C. Human Rights Act?
Hart: To address LGBT homelessness, we need job training, outreach, and social services specifically targeted to the LGBT community. In addition, we need better training for police regarding hate crimes and LGBT awareness, and we should expand LGBT awareness and anti-bullying campaigns in our schools. With respect to District shelters, nondiscrimination protections should be specifically checked as part of periodic audits.
MW: What specific recommendations do you have to decrease unemployment among the District’s transgender community and enforce existing laws relating to employment discrimination, both by D.C. government and private businesses?
Hart: I recommend targeted job training, awareness programs, and vigorous enforcement of the laws. If necessary, this issue could also be referred to the Inspector General or newly-elected Attorney General.
MW: Why should the LGBT community vote for you?
Hart: I believe in fairness, equal opportunity, and transparent government. I have worked closely with DC Appleseed in their fight against HIV/AIDS in the District. My law firm represented Edith Windsor in the DOMA case before the Supreme Court. The LGBT community is close to me both personally and professionally, and I will be a tireless advocate for LGBT rights if elected to the DC Council.
For more information on Brian Hart’s campaign, visit brianhartdc.com.
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