Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of profiles on the candidates running for D.C. mayor in 2014. Click here to read all the profiles.
Tommy Wells is a D.C. councilmember representing Ward 6. Raised in Birmingham, Ala., Wells moved to the District in 1983.
After spending six years as a social worker and obtaining a law degree from Catholic University, Wells directed the non-profit Consortium for Child Welfare.
He served as a member of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B from 1995 to 2000 and was elected to the D.C. Board of Education from 2001 to 2006.
Wells is nearing the end of his second four-year term on the D.C. Council, where he chairs the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.
He lives on Capitol Hill.
Wells outlined his positions on several issues in a recent interview with WNEW D.C. Bureau Chief Matt DelSignore.
On transportation, Wells believes the District should expand its transit system, independent of WMATA. To pay for it, he says, “I would put a penny tax on the sales tax directly to fund the operations of our public transit system.”
Wells calls D.C.’s homeless problem a crisis and says the current administration was caught “flat-footed.”
“Competent and entrepreneurial” is how Wells describes D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson. He says he would improve public education using Ward 6 schools as a model.
D.C. UNITED STADIUM
Before giving his full support to the Gray administration’s proposed land swap that would result in a new stadium for D.C. United, Wells describes his caveats about public transportation around Buzzard Point and affordable housing.
Wells was the lead author of a bill that would decriminalize possessing less than an ounce of marijuana. The measure passed the D.C. Council in February. Wells says he would vote to legalize marijuana, though he says he’s watching what happens in Colorado to guide how tax-and-regulate might work in the District.
Of all the leading mayoral candidates, Wells is the only one who envisions a possible role for Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier outside her current job, perhaps as a deputy mayor. While he praises her “data-driven” leadership, he says some “refreshing there could be good.”
As chair of D.C. Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, Wells has repeatedly criticized what he sees as “systemic mismanagement” of the Fire and EMS Department by its chief, Ken Ellerbe.
Should the District have more traffic cameras, fewer cameras or is the current number just right? Wells worries about “undermining the legitimacy” of the cameras if the public sees them purely as a cash grab.