Next spring, another Chavous will seek the Ward 7 council seat. Following the footsteps of his dad Kevin P. Chavous, Kevin B. Chavous, will challenge incumbent D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander, D-Ward 7.
Chavous said growing up in the District, generally, and Ward 7, in particular, instilled in him a strong sense of activism. That and his attention to issues of high unemployment and health issues — especially a high rate of kidney disease in the ward — the Hillcrest neighborhood native said he has set himself apart from other candidates.
The younger Chavous is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law. “I strongly believe that Ward 7 needs a change of pace coupled with a jolt of energy and enthusiasm. Because of his youth and strong foundation, Kevin Jr. has the capacity to offer just that,” said Ted Daniels, 27, a Ward 7 resident and a former high school classmate of Chavous.
In addition to Alexander, the 26-year-old Chavous will face Tom Brown, a teacher who runs a nonprofit, and Ronald Moten, co-founder of D.C.’s safety watchdog Peaceoholics.
Chavous, the D.C. Coordinator for the Black Alliance for Educational Options,
spoke with the AFRO, sharing his political intentions.
AFRO: Why are you vying for the Ward 7 candidate seat, and what sets you apart from other candidates?
Kevin Chavous: I was born and raised in Ward 7 so I have a very strong passion for helping and serving. We are a ward that has the greatest need in the city. I know that I will bring the legally trained mindset that we need at this time … A lot of issues that we are facing I’ve been facing my whole life, and I think people in the ward agree with me.
AFRO: Describe a typical Kevin B. Chavous supporter, including occupation, age range and daily concerns?
KC: Most of them are hard-working residents of Ward 7 who are tired of the distractions that have been presented to them by the Council, such as unemployment rates and a stagnant economic development. We are tired of having a lack of quality of education. We shouldn’t have to go outside of our neighborhoods for a good education.
AFRO: If you were elected, what would be the first issue you would tackle?
KC: The issue of transparency between council members and constituents. I want people to understand what I’m up to. I’m going to be an accessible council member who is up front with the constituent. We are going to have a website that constituents could access to see what’s going on.
AFRO: Name three pressing issues in Ward 7 that have not been addressed by the D.C. council or Mayor Gray’s administration.
KC: Education is a big one. We do not have enough high quality educational facilities in Ward 7. I know started talking about the middle school’s initiative, but they need to do more. The lack of shopping and retail options for people in Ward 7. I know they’re talking about a Walmart. We’ve heard these stories before, like Skyland development. We don’t like going to other places to shop. I don’t think the mayor has done enough to promote economic development in the ward. Just access to city services. A lot of people in our ward feel as though we have to wait longer than other wards. We feel as though our city service requests aren’t as important compared to other parts of the city. ?
AFRO: At a recent campaign kick-off event, you said Ward 7 has more vacant homes than any other ward in the city. What are your thoughts about homeownership versus renting?
KC: Homeownership is the backbone of wealth and society. I do believe people have to be prepared before people embark on homeownership. I support homeownership initiatives, but I believe that we have to give our residents the skills to prepare. I support a blight property tax initiative … if they let their home just fall into decay, there should be a stiffer penalty. It breeds crime and lends to other problems that cost the city. I do believe that we should put more pressure on homeowners who have blighted properties.
AFRO: You mentioned a health concern that few politicians mention: kidney disease. Why are you such a proponent for this issue?
KC: No one is talking about that issue, the fact that kidney disease rates in Ward 7 are high. My goal is to use the position to speak to issues that aren’t getting much attention. If no one is going to talk about, I will bring it up. If I’m elected I want to start a task force. We need to encourage people to participate in screenings for kidney disease. I understand it’s not the most important issue, but I wanted to highlight something that isn’t being talked about.
AFRO: For Washingtonians who are interested in getting to know you on a personal level, how would friends, colleagues describe you? What motivates your passion to sit on the D.C. council?
KC: Most people would describe me as a genuine person who loves D.C. Every level of my education has taken place in D.C. Most people who know me on a personal level know that I am a hard worker. The Kevin that my friends know is the same Kevin that is running for the council, who is willing to roll up his sleeves and do what’s best for Ward 7.
AFRO: As a 26-year-old, do you think your age helps or hinders your campaign?
KC: I believe my age is an asset. At my age I have the opportunity to devote all of my time to Ward 7. I have the energy, vigor to attack things with aggression. We are down with our unemployment rate. This is a great time for someone my age to run. I will be an example to other Black men; they, too, should get involved with civic engagement. With the lack of young Black males who are seen and heard, now is a great time to run. A lot of people are looking at our generation to step up.