Political newcomer Peter Bolton launched his campaign for the Ward 2 seat on the Council of the District of Columbia, representing the D.C. Statehood Green Party in an increasingly heated race.
Bolton, a journalist and activist, decided to run in Ward 2 after learning that the D.C. Statehood Green Party had no candidate on the ballot for the Nov. 3 election. Current Councilmember Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2) (LAW ’17) is fending off multiple independent challenges after winning the special and primary elections in June.
Bolton cited former Councilmember Jack Evans’ corruption scandal as motivation for running. Evans resigned in January amid accusations he used his council position to promote the interests of his consulting company’s clients. The Democratic Party has not served Ward 2 residents well because special interests and developers have been able to buy influence, according to Bolton.
“Those interests that give to the Democratic Party, they don’t do so out of the goodness of their hearts. They do so because they want something in return,” Bolton said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “The Democrats on the council and in the mayor’s office have been more than happy to be part of this whole sordid quid pro quo. That was very true of Jack Evans — it’s very true of other councilmembers.”
One of the biggest problems Washington, D.C., faces is the militarization of law enforcement, according to Bolton, who supports reallocating funds from the Metropolitan Police Department to mental health and aid programs.
“In my estimation, at least, one of the great problems that we have in this city and other parts of the United States is that the police are used as the first point of call for issues that are not naturally within their remit, such as homelessness and mental health,” Bolton said.
The council passed emergency police reform legislation in June, following nationwide protests over the police killings of unarmed Black people. Activists continue to push for further reforms after the police killing of 18-year-old Southeast D.C. resident Deon Kay in September.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made voter outreach a challenging task, especially when operating on a limited budget, according to Bolton.
“It’s been very difficult for my campaign and party in general. Obviously because canvassing is not really possible, because people, I assume, would not really be comfortable with someone knocking on their door and having close contact,” Bolton said. “My party is already at a huge disadvantage in terms of financial resources to Democrats, and frankly to the so-called independents in my race, who are switchers, who have switched their party affiliation from Democrat to independent just for this one race.”
Bolton says the D.C Statehood Green Party’s detractors, who call their policies and ideas untenable, are wrong.
“I would like to make clear that the things that I am advocating are not unrealistic, they’re not only realistic but they’ve been implemented in other cities, in other countries, particularly in Europe but also in Australia and New Zealand, Canada in some cases, and so on,” Bolton said. “I want people to really think about what’s possible, and whether they want to buy into this Democratic Party line that anything more radical than what they are offering is unrealistic.”