Metro Weekly

Gay Libertarian candidate will challenge Bowser in D.C. mayor’s race

Local activist Martin Moulton criticizes mayor over school lottery scandal and transportation safety initiatives

Martin Moulton – Photo courtesy of Martin Moulton.

Even as potential Democratic primary challengers to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser shy away from the spotlight, an openly gay Libertarian Party candidate is determined to ensure that this year’s election isn’t a coronation.

Martin Moulton, a longtime community activist in the Shaw neighborhood who has run in past cycles for D.C. shadow representative and for D.C.’s non-voting delegate position in Congress against Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, had previously collected signatures for petitions to run in either for mayor or for Chairman of the D.C. Council against incumbent Phil Mendelson. He said he had been talking to voters and Libertarian party members about which race would be better for him to enter prior to Thursday, when he decided to pull the trigger on a race against Bowser.

Moulton says he believes both Bowser and Mendelson, who drives the Council’s legislative agenda, have failed to address pressing issues and problems that have developed under their watch.

He has particularly been critical of recent scandals revolving around whether District employees and other well-connected Washingtonians, including former Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson — who was later forced to resign — were able to skirt the lottery for placement at D.C. public schools and get their children enrolled in some of the District’s higher-performing and more reputable schools, many of which have long waiting lists.

“I talk to people from all over the city, from Ward 8 to Ward 1 to Ward 3, and the biggest issue right now, and the press has been all over this, is the school scandals,” says Moulton. “We believe as Libertarians that these scandals have been created by too much micro-managing from government in the choices of how parents want to educate their children. And when I talk to parents, they are furious. They deal with the frustration of not being able to get their kid into a good school, and being forced to put their kid to a crappy school.”

Moulton says allowing free market forces to shape D.C.’s school system through school choice would help combat the District’s education problems by allowing parents to take control of their children’s education and hold bad schools and ineffective administrators accountable.

Moulton has also criticized Bowser’s “Vision Zero” initiative aimed at increasing transportation safety and reducing car accidents, claiming that traffic deaths have increased, not decreased, since the District began carrying out the program. 

“There are a lot of Libertarian solutions that haven’t been highlighted by the media, and people just don’t know about them, whether it’s the drug war, whether it’s education, policing, mass incarceration, over-regulation of small retail businesses,” Moulton says of the other problems that the District faces. “We think the solutions rely on trusting the public, trusting families, trusting parents, and trusting small businesses to do what’s in their best interests. Let’s take out the regulations that hamper them from doing that.”

A spokesman for Bowser’s re-election campaign was not immediately available for comment.

Moulton says the Libertarian Party is also in favor of legalizing, not decriminalizing, prostitution in the District.

“Let’s take this off the streets and send it indoors, where we can send the Department of Health to monitor health issues, we can send in DCRA, and DOES, and tell people who might be struggling and have resorted to sex work temporarily about other opportunities that are available to them.”

As for LGBTQ issues, Moulton knows that many members of the community can be skeptical of what Libertarians offer, but says the party has long advocated for greater individual freedom. 

“The Libertarian Party, at its founding in 1972, was for equality for all people, including LGBTQ people, to keep the government out of our bedrooms, and our personal decisions, and to only get involved if someone is being hurt or harmed by other people,” he says. “So I hope that the media would give Libertarians a fair shake, in that we’ve been doing the right thing, while it took the Democrats until Obama’s second term to come on board to giving LGBTQ people equal access to everything we should have.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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