DC mayor candidate Robert White pitches jobs guarantee – The Washington Post

by | Apr 21, 2022 | Jobs

Placeholder while article actions loadD.C. mayoral candidate Robert C. White Jr. announced a major new platform for his campaign on Thursday: promising every District resident a job.White’s jobs guarantee, which he says would add about 10,000 people to the city government’s payroll at a cost of $1.5 billion per year, evokes prior ideas laid out by thinkers from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). White, an at-large D.C. Council member, is mounting an uphill fight to unseat incumbent Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D).Speaking to a small group gathered in Northeast Washington, White argued that increasing the size of the city’s workforce by one-third would not increase government bloat but instead offer residents dignified jobs that would deter them from violence — while putting them to work on valuable tasks like repairing aging public housing and painting crosswalks.Advertisement“This monumental program will drive down violence. … People want to be involved in improving their communities, and we want to give them an opportunity to do that,” White said, comparing his proposal to former mayor Marion Barry’s creation of the Summer Youth Employment Program, which gives paid work to District teenagers.February poll finds Bowser’s approval rating down, reelection prospects still highBowser, who is seeking a third term, has expanded that legacy program, including proposing higher wages for youth next year. But White criticized Bowser’s efforts Thursday, particularly the job training programs that Bowser has funded through the troubled Department of Employment Services, saying people complete the programs but then fail to find long-term work.Bowser declined to comment Thursday.White and Bowser are set to square off in June’s Democratic primary, along with council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) and former advisory neighborhood commissioner James Butler.AdvertisementThe size of the city’s budget has ballooned under Bowser, thanks to swelling tax revenue as well as major federal aid designed to help cities recover from the pandemic. Bowser has spread that money around to a variety of programs in each of the past two years, including huge spending to subsidize construction of affordable housing, increased spending on both police and alternative violence interruption programs, and targeted employment programs, such as one that employs people considered at risk of gun violence to work for the Department of Public Works.D.C. city workers’ largest union endorses Robert WhiteNoting that the city budget has grown rapidly in recent years — about $15.5 billion in 2020, $16.7 billion in 2021, $17.5 billion in 2022 and $19 billion in the 2023 fiscal year budget that the council is currently shaping — White said he would heavily invest new funds in job creation rather than an array of programs that he claimed are “just throwing a lot of money everywhere and not solving problems.”He did not go into detail about the specifics of his plan, though he said the jobs guarantee would include both directing some residents to private-sector or nonprofit jobs and hiring others to work for the District in roles such as planting trees, eradicating rodents and mosquitoes, and removing lead pipes.AdvertisementBowser and White both have described violent crime as a chief concern among voters and a top priority, but the two have diverged sharply in their approaches. Bowser says the city needs to hire more police officers. White, who has opposed hiring more police in the past, said he wants to remove many duties from police — including noise complaints, mental health emergencies and most traffic stops — and wants an audit to determine how many officers are necessary.“Unfortunately, the mayor’s only answer to crime has been more police. … More police is simply not a public safety pla …

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