Every resident living in Washington, D.C., looking for work could be guaranteed a job through a massive hiring spree that would expand the local government and reduce crime in the district, according to a proposal from mayoral candidate Robert White.
White, who is seeking to unseat Mayor Muriel Bowser in the June primary election, aims to add about 10,000 jobs to the district government in a plan designed to implement clean energy initiatives while driving down violence. The new jobs would include installing solar panels on buildings, planting trees, and removing lead pipes, among other things.
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“For far too many people in our city, the streets are offering a better opportunity than our government is,” White said. “For most people involved in violence in our city, if they were given the choice between violence and a well-paying, stable job, they would choose the job. But, far too many people aren’t getting that choice. We are trapped in a cycle of violence that has held Washingtonians back for generations.”
The proposal stands in stark contrast to Bowser’s bid to address the rising crime rate in Washington. The mayor is proposing a $30 million budget to expand the Metropolitan Police Department and reach 4,000 sworn officers over the next decade.
White said he, a mayor, would transfer police responsibilities such as noise complaints and mental health emergencies to other public safety agencies.
“Unfortunately, the mayor’s only answer to crime has been more police,” he told reporters Thursday. “More police is simply not a public safety plan.”
White also criticized Bowser’s other efforts to help residents find work, arguing that job training programs within the Department of Employment Services fail to help people find long-term employment. His plan would guarantee stable jobs and offer opportunities for career advancement, White said.
The jobs guarantee program would add roughly 10,000 people to the city government’s payroll and cost the district about $1.5 billion a year, increasing the city’s workforce by about 30%, according to White’s plan.
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Addressing the rise in crime in Washington, D.C., has been a priority for both Bowser and White throughout their campaigns, as violent crime has become a top concern among district voters over the last few years.
White and Bowser are set to head off in the Democratic primary on June 21. The two will also face Councilman Trayon White and former advisory neighborhood commissioner James Butler. The primary in the heavily Democratic district typically determines who will win the general election.