Neither rain nor sleet nor snow will stop the deluge of candidates for Ward 4 city council. Earlier today I had the great pleasure of speaking with Mr. Artee Milligan. Mr. Milligan would not let a little snow stop him as he showed up for our meeting prepared for the weather with a yellow stocking cap on his head.
Mr. Milligan grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and graduated from LSU with a degree in accounting. He worked for Exxon Mobile for over 20 years and was known as "the fix it man." Mr. Milligan is an expert in "process reengineering." He moved to Ward 4 in 1994 and lives in the Shepherd Park neighborhood. He got interested in the race for city council because he said "I'm going to live and die in ward 4 and I love ward 4 and Washington DC." Currently, Artee J. Milligan is Executive Director of Metropolitan/Delta Adult Literacy Council. He has been in this position for the past 4 years and is very proud of his record of graduating 30 students per year. His organization helps students who drop out of the public school system to achieve their GED and if they desire to attend a community or 4 year college.
Mr. Miligan explained that he feels the pulse of ward 4 residents and he will use his record of success and hard work to make sure that "we are making the community better."
Speaking of Domku, Mr. Milligan explained that "these are the kinds of places we want in Ward 4." He continued, "ward 4 is missing the right kind of retail development." He seeks to encourage development whereby everyone benefits. He hopes that this development will keep tax dollars in DC as well as create jobs for its residents. He cited living in a low density environment as one benefit of living in Ward 4. "We need to manage our density to retain our quality of life," he explained. He hopes to guide this development as a representative of Ward 4 by providing "extraordinary customer service." Milligan explained, "I know that residents want clean streets, safe communities and the right kind of development...people won't have to call me to get these things done because I will already be working on them and they will happen automatically."
I recounted a story to Mr Milligan about a car that pulled up in my alley blasting music while its passengers relieved themselves against a garage. I asked him what was the appropriate response. Mr. Milligan suggested that I call 311 because long term data would be compiled that could be used by the police later on. The theme of data collection and analysis was one that emerged throughout our discussion. Mr. Milligan was actually quite passionate in his response, insisting that our alleys are not properly maintained and patrolled at present.
Milligan does not support Mayor Fenty's plan to take over the public school system. He believes that the mayor and council should focus on improving after school programs, improving early childhood development and ensure that test scores and graduation rates improve. Ed. Note: I have to admit, Mr. Milligan cited a number of statistics here to back his claims but quite frankly I couldn't write them down that fast, but his access to these statistics were quite impressive to a layperson like myself. Milligan believes that Dr. Janney and Robert Bobb should be given the chance to succeed before they are judged. He has a lot of faith in those two gentlemen. If they do not succeed then they should of course be held accountable. Finally, Mr. Milligan was adamant that no vote should take place on Fenty's plan before a ward 4 representative is elected. Milligan explained that there is just too much at stake in this matter for ward 4 not to be represented.
Mr. Milligan summed up the solution in one word: jobs. Then another word: opportunity. He cited more statistics here about DC unemployment jumping to 6.3% coinciding with an increase in crime this past January. Quite simply Milligan explained that more jobs equals less crime and more opportunity equals less petty crime. He believes the issue of crime is closely tied to the education system. He explained that the city needs to invest more in technical and vocational training to provide opportunities to its residents. As a councilmember Milligan said he would push for greater funding and explained that "just because a student drops out of the public school system doesn't mean that the city is no longer responsible for that student." He told me that 75% of those folks in prison do not have a high school diploma. He believes if we can give these residents opportunities they will then have something at stake in the community and "those with a stake in the community don't go to jail."
When asked about community policing Milligan said that he would like to see it on a routine basis and not just as "a flavor of the month" like when a murder is committed. He says that community policing is not a panacea rather it will tax a mix of initiatives to reduce crime.
He believes the Mission Shelter should stay where it is on 14th Street. He believes that the Petworth community does not seek this type of development.
Old Soldiers and Sailors Home
Milligan believes that the local ANCs should help design and shape the development that will occur in the old soldier's home. He did, however, emphasize the importance of affordable housing which he explained was a quality of life issue. He would like to see affordable housing for our first responders and teachers. He said the development is a good thing when everyone benefits not just the wealthy. With affordable housing providing living accomodations for cops, firefighters and teachers then they will have a greater stake in their job as well. He explained that there was a big difference when people live and work in the same community rather than working in DC and going home to Virginia or Maryland.
Mr. Milligan was joined by his campaign manager, Devlin Hilman who incidentally was wearing a matching yellow snow cap. Mr. Hilman is a 100% volunteer as is all of his staff. He explained that his volunteer staff is the equivalent of a six figure campaign war chest. However, he explained that this race is all about filling Mayor Fenty's shoes and that he knows he can get the job done. He does not believe that any campaign should be excluded just because they haven't raised a certain number of funds. He was very proud of the committed staff that he had assembled. Having said this, Mr. Devlin reminded Mr. Milligan that today was his 51st birthday. To celebrate his 51st birthday he will gladly accept $51 campaign contributions.
Last great book read: The Four Agreements about life experiences and being able to accomplish anything you want to. Mr. Milligan did say that he also reads lots of statistic based articles. "An article that has a lot of data really gets my blood flowing because inside the data is the way to make our lives better." said Milligan.
Musical taste: He likes everything except heavy metal. Last music he listened to was Prince's new album but he enjoys a wide variety.
Last great movie: Crash
I was extremely impressed with Mr. Milligan. He was sharp and he certainly knew his statistics. I'm sorry I couldn't do justice to all the statistics he cited. Whether we discussed, schools or crime or the homeless shelter, he did not hesitate in responding and provided very clear and consise answers peppered with supporting data. I also liked his comments about development and the importance of not losing our low population density. My only concern is that he came off a little bit like a calculating businessman. He was a little detached from some of the issues where I would have liked to have seen a bit more passion. Nevertheless, even if detached he certainly appeared to know what he was talking about.
To learn more you can visit his website at http://milliganforward4.com/