Elissa Silverman Credit: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

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Securing a D.C. United soccer stadium deal in 2015 looked a lot harder after last night’s D.C. Council at-large forum. Like kids clustering around a soccer ball, several of the candidates fell over one another trying to bash Mayor Vince Gray‘s plan to swap 14th Street NW’s Reeves Center for D.C. United soccer stadium land.

Elissa Silverman said Gray’s plan amounted to a “giveway,” while Rev. Graylan Hagler said the deal “stinks to high hell.” Statehood Green Eugene Puryear declared that developer Akridge’s negotiations to swap the Reeves Center for stadium land amount to a “terroristic attitude.”

Even Eric Jones, a former construction industry lobbyist, said the stadium amounted to a failed “campaign ploy” for Gray. Courtney Snowden proposed selling the Reeves Center and putting the money into human services.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Snowden said. “Maybe you’ve heard of D.C. General.”

Anti-stadium deal sentiment went over great with the lefty crowd at the forum sponsored by D.C. for Democracy, an outgrowth of Howard Dean‘s presidential campaign.

Not all 15 candidates in the race were on hand to trash the trade, though. Incumbent Anita Bonds didn’t show up, while the group’s membership voted not to invite another six hopefuls. (Having trouble keeping track of the candidates? LL has you covered.)

When the candidates weren’t criticizing the stadium, they were trying to outflank Silverman, a presumptive frontrunner who came in second in last year’s at-large election, on campaign finance. Silverman’s refusal to take corporate campaign contributions should theoretically make her a hit with good-government types, so her opponents griped that they’d be similarly abstentious, if only the District had public election funding.

Silverman wasn’t having it.

“I agree we can go further,” Silverman said. “My campaign does go further.”

The candidates themselves weren’t a happy family, but they were all about their actual families. White declared that he “filters” everything through his family, while Snowden invited the audience to look at her “perfect” son. On education, Pitts pointed out that, of the candidates on stage, only he and Snowden have “skin in the game”—-school-age children.

Candidate Khalid Pitts, who co-owns a Logan Circle wine bar, used the forum to fiddle with his small business-heavy platform. While he admitted that he wouldn’t ditch managing the wine bar and a related market if he’s elected to the Council, Pitts repeatedly tried to portray small business-friendly local government as crucial for improving the District’s quality of life.

“Think about that Elton John song, ‘I’ll buy you a big house where we both can live,” Pitts said.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery