- The Magazine
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?
Kris Hammond (R, Council Chairman): D.C. Council oversight of agency policy and spending decisions is extremely important. The D.C. government spends too much money on programs that do too little to advance the public interest. Those wasted tax dollars should be redirected to combating homelessness, providing job training, and rebuilding infrastructure. The D.C. Council should enact legislation to rein in excessive spending, but it will take oversight hearings to ensure that agencies are not spending excessively.
In addition, the Council should ensure that agency actions do not discriminate against or otherwise hinder the interests of the LGBT community. For example, oversight is needed to combat discrimination against gays and lesbians within the Metropolitan Police Department and ensure that it responds effectively to hate crimes committed against the LGBT community.
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?
Hammond: I will be an independent voice on the Council and not beholden to the mayor, other councilmembers, or my political party. Too often, councilmembers and the Mayor become embroiled in petty disputes, such as the 2010 squabble over Nationals season tickets. There are serious issues that must be addressed by the D.C. Council — as the only Republican on the Council, I will work to build a consensus that advances the interests of all residents. Finally, I have already demonstrated independence from my own political party by embracing marriage equality and advocating for other LGBT issues.
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?
Hammond: Homelessness is one of the most pressing issues facing our city, and public funds should be directed at helping our most vulnerable residents. I will work to ensure that the dysfunction witnessed at D.C. General and other shelters ends. Furthermore, I support the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Reform Amendment Act of 2013, which sets aside a minimum number of beds for LGBTQ homeless youth and requires culturally competent care at shelters.
Members of the LGBT community have suffered discrimination and victimization in homeless shelters. Drawing upon my background as an attorney enforcing anti-discrimination laws, I will conduct oversight to ensure the effective enforcement of LGBT anti-discrimination policies in District homeless shelters. Additional measures to combat discrimination include comprehensive cultural awareness training of all shelter staff and a complaint process that is responsive to concerns.
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?
Hammond: Transgender people are unemployed at a far higher rate than the general population. In the past, the District has implemented job training programs to help transgender people obtain the skills they need, but additional initiatives through the Department of Employment Services are needed. I also support funding to ensure that LGBTQ cultural competency training continues for D.C. government managers and staff.
Although the District has employment laws that protect transgender people from employment discrimination, transgender unemployment and underemployment persists. For ten years, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, I served as an attorney in the Employment Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, where I enforced anti-discrimination laws in the employment context. Therefore, I am uniquely suited to review anti-discrimination employment law compliance.
MW: Why should the LGBT community vote for you?
Hammond: I am a fiscal conservative who will cut wasteful spending and redirect the savings to important government initiatives. Unlike the incumbent Council Chairman, Phil Mendelson, who adamantly opposes the right of every law-abiding D.C. citizen to carry a handgun for self-protection, I believe that LGBT residents have the right to defend themselves against potential hate crimes. Chairman Mendelson has a good LGBT track record, and he and I generally agree on LGBT issues. Therefore, gays and lesbians who support some of my other policy positions can vote for me without being concerned that LGBT interests will be adversely affected.
For more information on Kris Hammond’s campaign, visit krisfordc.com.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!