[from October 2004 issue]


There are too many city residents who think it won’t matter much if they show up at the polls on November 2 or not. Although it’s a given that the great majority of votes will go for the Kerry-Edwards team, it is still important that we demonstrate to the nation that we take our three Electoral College votes seriously and that our demands for full citizen rights are genuine indeed.

But there is another reason for all of us to make the effort to get out to the polls next month. And that is to demonstrate that our demands for true political independence that will flow from absolute and unfettered home rule is not something that only a strident minority of DC residents proclaim as our right. One measure of how committed we as a citizenry are to ruling ourselves is to vote in huge numbers. Yet, many say, “What’s the point? The primary was what counted and nothing will change.” Maybe so, but we still must carry this flag.

Then there are those Ward 2 residents who might wish to come out and cast, if nothing else, a protest vote against incumbent Jack Evans to register their unhappiness with his support of the baseball stadium financing deal that was recently announced. Well, we, also, are not happy about that, but we will not use that as a reason to urge voting against Evans. (We will, in due course, no doubt have many choice words on the subject; but that is for another day.) This is because we believe his service as chairman of the city council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue has been so exemplary and critical--and will continue to be--that we need him to remain at that helm. Accordingly, we reiterate, without hesitation, all that we had to say in this space last month when endorsing him for re-election.

Also last month we once again gave at-large Councilmember Carol Schwartz our strong endorsement for re-election. At that time, our words could only have relevance for registered Republicans, but in the November general election Democrats can vote for her and they ought to do so without hesitation. For those Democrat voters who may not have paid attention to our words about her previously, what we had to say about Carol (as well as Jack and other candidates) can be read on our website (www.intowner.com) simply by clicking the link to the back issues archive and opening up the complete September issue and scrolling to our page 3 editorial.

One important local politician we do not generally write much about, principally because her mandate extends farther than the tight-knit section of Northwest DC that is our reporting territory, is our Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. She has been a bulwark in the House of Representatives against every and all small-minded, vicious anti-DC members of Congress and, having assumed that role, has over the years on occasions too numerous to list, by force of her personality and keen mind and lawyerly (yes, she is also a brilliant attorney) skills not only preserved our limited home rule, but has enhanced it through her powers of persuasion that have set into motion a number of actions--and even non-actions--in the House of Representatives that can be considered precedents that auger well for eventual true independence.

In this effort, the yeoman service of our city’s long-time, unpaid so-called “shadow” Representative to the House, Ray Browne must not be overlooked. He is, once again, on the ballot and should be overwhelmingly re-elected so that he can continue the work that is his mandate: to lobby for and help secure full voting rights. His role is very much the same as that which has been historically performed in the past by designated or elected representatives from the non-voting territories of the then growing United States. He deserves the same respect and support for his efforts on our collective behalf.

But, let’s return once again to the neighborhoods, specifically those in Wards 1 and 2 which also have a stake in the outcome of the election to fill the District 1 Board of Education seat.

One candidate has been particularly effective in reaching out to a wide range of voters throughout these two wards and has thus demonstrated his seriousness as to his commitment to take on an enormous challenge for which there is only minimal financial compensation. It is important that the new school superintendent, who, by all accounts is believed to have what it takes to finally turn things around, have a board of education with members that are equally bright and committed and driven by the desire to serve in the public interest rather than to enhance their standing in the community or for other personal reasons. This is a matter of absolute concern not just for parents but for all of us who will be better served by well-educated graduates of the public school system.

Accordingly, based on what we have learned and heard about Jeff Smith, we do strongly endorse his election to that position. His experience as a former fifth grade teacher at Gibbs Elementary in Northeast DC, his work with disadvantaged youth and adolescents living in the King-Greenleaf Gardens projects in Southwest, his education in the DC public schools and at Howard University with both an undergraduate degree in economics and later a law degree from its outstanding law school, are just the “tip of the iceberg” alerting us to a very solid citizen who lives in Ward 1 with his wife Nyasha, also a product of Howard. And, at least for us, the “icing on the cake,” as it were, is that his own ward Councilmember, Jim Graham, thinks very highly of him and also supports his bid. Given our respect for the council member’s judgment about people and understanding of the needs of our city’s youth, we consider his opinion to be of serious importance.