Thirty-one-year-old Marcus Goodwin kicked off his campaign to run for the DC City
Council in January of 2020, but soon had to adapt his strategy to the many changes caused by COVID-19. Goodwin was running for office in the midst of a world torn by chaos, fear and
misinformation. I interviewed Goodwin a few days after this November’s Election Day to get his thoughts on some of the issues he’d been fighting for. As a candidate, he greatly supported education, housing and the local economy, since he believes in supporting low-income families and small businesses during difficult times. The issue Goodwin focused on most, however, was combating the pandemic.
“I think the hardest part for anyone [running for office this year] was dealing with coronavirus,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin developed his own plan for handling the virus, unusual for a candidate in a
local race. Aside from the policy issues posed by the pandemic, the impacts of the virus
disrupted one of his most important campaign techniques. “The classic trope of politicians is –they shake hands and kiss babies. There was definitely no hand-shaking and no baby-kissing,” Goodwin pointed out. Goodwin maintained his practice of knocking on individual voters’ doors, even amidst the pandemic, by taking precautions. This personal approach to politics has long been one aspect of Goodwin’s strategy that he feels sets him apart from his competitors.
As only the second member his family to attend college, Goodwin’s education has paved the way for a successful career as well as a desire to give the same level of learning to every other student. And what of young people going into politics? Goodwin says that every person should be as involved in politics as much as possible, even if it isn’t their main field. “No matter who you are, politics affects and impacts your life.” Goodwin is by profession a commercial real estate advisor, and argues, “For me it’s important to have people who understand more than just politics.”
In retrospect, Goodwin said his profession was an obstacle in his race for office. He
believes most voters are unfamiliar with ordinary citizens running for office without much
political experience. With interest high in politics, the DC Council at-large race drew 24 candidates for just two spots. Goodwin finished fifth, winning 12% of the vote. Although Goodwin did not end up winning the race, he has no plans to give up. “I certainly want to stay involved in the community and find the best way to contribute to making it a better place.”
He wants to stay active in his neighborhood association groups, as well as testifying at DC City Council hearings and remaining as politically active as possible, including on the Democratic State Committee. Goodwin technically ran as an independent in the at-large Council race, since only one of the two positions can be filled by a Democrat, but he admits that his views do more closely align with the left. However, he freely agrees that the party is far from perfect and could improve on its communication to the public. For example, on the topic of racial equality: “We’re in a time of racial re-awakening,” Goodwin said. “I don’t think the Democratic Party effectively tapped into making people feel comfortable.”
But despite this pronouncement, Goodwin’s stance surrounding race has never been
entirely clear. Back in the summer, his support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the
protests surrounding the death of George Floyd painted a picture of a social justice fighter who would do his best to fight for his fellow African-American residents. However, his calls for police reform and racial equality were often cited as a method of capitalizing on the name of the movement without doing enough to truly support it. Additionally, his profession as a real estate advisor has also been criticized for his involvement, although secondary, in the displacement of African Americans through the construction of new apartment buildings.
His attitude toward people who don’t support him has also been questioned. In an article by the Washington City Paper, Goodwin is quoted after a man on the street refuses to give to his campaign as saying “He’s never gonna support me. People like to support people they can control. People can’t control me.” Putting aside this odd statement, Goodwin has also been cited by many as someone who backtracks or denies former statements to save face. His back and forth on this simple interaction also reflects his shifting or clarifying his opinions on certain issues.
No matter your opinions on both the controversies and strengths of Marcus Goodwin, a
chat with him certainly reveals a complexity that made him one of the top candidates for the
Council race, with an endorsement from The Washington Post, among others. And Goodwin has shown that he is willing to be stubborn, deciding to run once more after having been defeated in 2018 for the same position on the Council. By the time 2022 rolls around, who knows? Voters might see Goodwin on the ballot once more.