Ward Four has everything to lose, if Muriel Bowser is not defeated. Bowser has received nearly $ 300,000.00 in campaign contributions, for the April 2012 Primary.

This is a huge sum of money for a ward race. Most of her opponents haven’t raised a tenth of what she has raised.

The Ward Four Primary race is being influenced by corporations, LLC’s and businesses. They have tripled down in their contributions to keep her vote on the Council. The problem for us is that she votes against us. Her votes require us to pay or spend more money.

Most recently, Ms. Bowser voted to defeat Betty Noel’s appointment to the Public Service Commission (PSC). Mayor Gray nominated Ms. Noel to the post in September 2011. When Pepco and several council members questioned whether her previous position as an advocate for the District’s residents would impact her votes, the Office of the Attorney General appointed an outside panel of experts to study and report on the issue. The expert panel determined that with Ms. Noel on the PSC it would be able to carryout its role to oversee utility companies without a problem.

Although Ms. Bowser was aware on the expert panel’s findings, she still voted against her. Betty Noel is a long time resident of Ward Four. Mayor Gray said. “Betty Noel, an expert in utility regulation, has also spent her entire career fighting for the interests of District residents. If that alone did not qualify her for the job in the eyes of the Council, I’m not sure what else possibly could.”

The impact of Bowser’s vote on us is that we are guaranteed to pay higher Pepco and Washington Gas bills. Both Pepco and Washington Gas have proposed rate hikes: $39.7 million and $29.0 million respectively. Pepco has requested and received three rate increases over the last three years. Because Ms. Noel will not be on the PSC to watch out for us, it is very likely that the fourth rate hikes will pass and you will pay higher and higher utility bills for the foreseeable future. Given Pepco’s repeated requests for rate increases, I understand why Mayor Gray felt that Ms. Noel is the perfect candidate to sit on the PSC.

In December 2011, in an emergency legislation session, Ms. Bowser voted to tax IRA distributions and pension payments. During an emergency legislation session, residents are not allowed to testify against or oppose legislation. The legislation made it mandatory for institutions and pension plans to withhold 8.95 percent, the maximum tax rate, from the recipients’ checks. Seniors struggle to make ends meet. This legislation created an enormous decrease in the cash seniors had to pay their bills. The legislation was inherently bad public policy, but Ms. Bowser voted for it anyway.

Although most Ward Four residents opposed the construction of a Wal-Mart store at the very busy intersection of Gerogia and Missouri Avenues, Bowser voted with big business again and against us again.

The tenure of Ms. Bowser on the Council has already cost Ward Four residents plenty. We can’t afford four more years of Ms. Bowser. She lacks the critical thinking skills required to make the right votes for the people she represents.

Ward Four needs an intelligent and courageous council member who will stand up for people like Betty Noel. We need a person on the Council who will fight for the best interests of people who live in our ward. I believe that person is Baruti Jahi.

I am casting my vote for Baruti Jahi, because he can beat Bowser. In a head to head match up against Bowser in 2008, he did very well in the race even though Adrain Fenty supported her 100%. While Fenty is still supports her in this election, I believe he can beat her with our help.

Artee Milligan
Washington, DC 20012

Artee Milligan

Special to the AFRO