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DC mayoral candidate says more boarding and vocational schools will keep streets safer

Councilmember At-Large Robert White said the plan calls for an adjustment in the budget for infrastructure improvements.

WASHINGTON — The D.C. primary election is just over a month away on June 21. So far, voters have identified safety, education, housing and jobs as a few of the core issues they'll be voting on this election. 

On Tuesday, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White made a campaign promise to put money back in voters' pockets by slashing traffic tickets. One day later, his opponent, Councilmember At-Large Robert White, released his own plan designed to address education, safety, and jobs.

DC police report violent crime is up 25% from this time last year.  According to MPD’s latest data on juvenile arrests, more than 700 young people were charged with violent crimes between July and December 2021. 

“The amount of young people that are in this area running around with guns and committing a lot of the crime is abysmal,” said native New Yorker and Ward 8 resident Ian Brown. "It reminds me of New York back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s a shame that the Nation’s Capital has this type of crime in 202."

WUSA9 spoke to DC voters about what they need to see in their next mayor. Safety and education were top of mind. 

“Too many students who do not plan to go to college drop out of high school or graduate without the tools to move into stable careers,” said White at Wednesday’s campaign announcement.  

White believes his two-part education plan will keep our streets safer and get kids on a career path: Boarding school for those in need and vocational programs for all.

“I want the mayor to be intentional about increasing the quality of public education,” Brown said.

Raymond Bell, the CEO and founder of the H.O.P.E. Project (a job training program in D.C.), offered support for White's plan. 

“Two thousand residents graduated from my program in IT, CDL and as security officers," Bell said. "The average salary of IT graduates is almost $70,000 a year. Most of them enrolled between ages of 18-24 and not a single one of them has been arrested for a violent crime since they graduated.”

According to the campaign, 30,000 D.C. students are considered at-risk, with less than 60% graduating high school. Campaign workers cite the local youth unemployment rate at 17% -- that’s 7% higher than the national average for 16 to 24-year-olds, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

“I graduated from a DC Public High School last year,” said 19-year-old Lyric Johnson. “I have now had multiple minimum wage jobs. Where are my opportunities? I cannot go into debt by going to college. My family and I cannot afford it. D.C. is and always will be my home, but will there be space for me in 4 years?”

White said, if elected, he will make the program among his first priorities and will appoint a team of students, parents, teachers, and labor leaders to develop an execution plan in the first 120 days in office.

“Folks in our city who want to stay here, they need good-paying careers and that means our schools have to be laser focused on getting all of our students in good-paying careers or college," White said. "Outside of those two trajectories we don’t stand a chance."

WUSA9 reached out to all Mayoral candidates for comment. Only James Butler sent a statement agreeing with more vocational programs but expressing some concern. 

“This looks like another programmatic smokescreen,  instead of providing real ways to keep D.C. Residents safe," Butler said. 

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