Voting in local elections: what you see is what you get
Bernie Sanders Refuses to Concede Nomination to Hillary Clinton," New York Times; "3 days before D.C. primary, Sanders calls for statehood," CNN) people can vote for candidates for At Large Councilmember, and Councilmembers in Wards 2, 4, 7 and 8. (I live in Ward 4.)
DC's Ward elections. Outside of Ward 2, where the incumbent has been in office since 1991, the Ward elections are particularly spirited, featuring incumbents supported by the Mayor all facing challengers.
The contests in Ward 7 (Yvette Alexander, once endorsed by then Council Chairman Vincent Gray, now being opposed by the former Mayor, Vincent Gray) and Ward 8 (LaRuby May, winner of the special election held after the death of Marion Barry. facing Trayvon White once again--he lost to her by fewer than 100 votes) will demonstrate how much having the support of the Mayor is worth.
Of course, the same is true in Ward 4, Brandon Todd, constituent services director when Muriel Bowser was Councilmember who won in a special election last year, faces a leading challenger, Leon Andrews, who has been reeling in endorsements. This is her home ward, how long are her coat-tails, how strong is her support?
(I like Vincent Orange as a person but generally I don't like his proposals, which tend to be old fashioned big projects that are a lot less urban than I'd like. He does have ethical challenges too.)
Voting for the candidate they can become. Wondering about my choices, I was talking to my next door neighbor (a lifelong Washingtonian) and she said her approach to picking who to vote for is if they are capable of growing into the position of Mayor.
I thought that was an interesting approach to the quandaries we face in making our choices.
It's all relative: in many respects DC is dominated by an urban flavored suburban agenda. As I have written before, most of DC's elected officials live in the "Outer City" and employ what the most ardent urbanists would term more suburban policies and understandings about the center city ("DC as a suburban agenda dominated city").
The original urban district of Washington is mostly comprised of three of the city's eight wards: Wards 2 and 6 almost in entirety, and Ward 1, which mostly lies outside of the original "L'Enfant City" but was developed almost completely in city form. Three of the city's four at-large councilmembers live in the Outer City as do the Mayor and Chairman of the City Council.
Note that while I live close to Montgomery County too, Mayor Bowser's new house is practically in Montgomery County ("Muriel Bowser's new neighborhood is a 'mystery' to many," Washington Post), (But I lived in the city's core for about 20 years before moving to the Outer City. She's always lived in the Outer City.)
What you see is what you get? The thing about Councilmembers, in my experience, it doesn't seem like "they grow while they are in the job" in terms of significantly improving their policy positions and pro-urban philosophies and understandings about cities.
I hope I am wrong, and Councilmembers and their staffs probably would take offense and argue, rightly, that it's very difficult to move a "pure position on urbanism" forward.
It's just not clear that they "get better" on the issues over time. (I can think of a couple of exceptions, but their exceptionality proves the rule.)
When I was considering running myself in the special election in 2015, I got some advice from some elected/former officials in the area, and one specifically said "it's really hard to move a Council in a different direction" because Councilmembers believe because they won that they already know everything, and that their position on issues was endorsed by the electorate, so there is no need to learn -- once you're elected it's not a setting for an ongoing seminar in urban management and vision.
Instead the focus is on executing on the platform/issues you committed to at the start of the campaign and that's not so easy since a majority of Councilmembers is required to pass legislation, and there isn't much support for a particularly progressive urban agenda on most of the Councils in the Washington metropolitan area
So I think what you see is what you get for as long as a Councilmember is in office.
Baring extraordinary circumstances, the platform and positions espoused during the campaign for the most part are what we will get, with tweaks along the same lines, as new circumstances warrant.
On that metric, I am not enamored with the choices.