Newspaper article Roll Call

Council Candidates Could Bridge Capitol-District Divide

Newspaper article Roll Call

Council Candidates Could Bridge Capitol-District Divide

Article excerpt

The Capitol and the John A. Wilson Building are separated by less than 3 miles, but sometimes it seems like the buildings where Congress and D.C. government work are in different countries, let alone quadrants, and their elected officials speak different languages.

It helps to have "ambassadors,' people whose experience working on Capitol Hill or the administration of a president can help translate what"s going on to local officials as well as communicate to federal officials what"s happening on the local political scene.

Two such would-be ambassadors are among the five candidates vying for an open at-large D.C. Council seat in the April 23 special election: D.C. State Board of Education member Patrick Mara and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Matthew Frumin.

In recent conversations with CQ Roll Call, Mara and Frumin spoke about their diverse careers that originated outside the local political sphere and shared how those experiences have informed the work they do now and the work they"d do if they got elected to the council.

Mara came to D.C. the summer before his senior year of college, in 1996, to intern for then-Sen. John H. Chafee, R-R.I. When Mara graduated in spring 1997, he returned to work full time for the senator, who was then the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Later pursuing a career as a lobbyist for issues related to clean energy, technology and education, Mara came back to Capitol Hill frequently to meet with lawmakers and their staff, which has helped him keep his finger on the pulse of congressional activity, especially that which affects the District.

And as a Republican in a predominantly Democratic local political scene, Mara"s strategy, he said, is reaching out to fellow Republicans especially.

"I see Democratic and Republican staffers quite a bit, whether at school auctions or committees, but I"ve tried to focus in on Republicans when I talk about D. …

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