We need to eliminate the gulf between the ideals that Washington, DC represents and the realities that District residents face. One cannot fully embrace the concept of a more perfect union when our voices are left out of the equation. DC statehood is an essential step in recognizing America’s ideal of being a representative democracy to all its people.
Without Statehood, we are not living up to whom we claim to be. The 700,000 residents in the District of Columbia deserve equal representation. American citizens are being disenfranchised, particularly citizens of color, without fair representation in Congress. DC should not have to rely on other people to get things done, and this lack of equality is a violation of international law.
DC residents pay the highest federal income taxes per-capita – more than any state in the country – over $8 billion each year. Where is it all going? DC statehood would allocate federal resources more equitably, so we’d see more of our tax dollars in our communities. Statehood would also give DC residents a powerful voice to make meaningful choices in our democracy.
Evidence shows that your zip code may be more important than your genetic code for health. Within the District, our life expectancies range by 20+ years when compared by neighborhood. Many of our senior residents require long-term care. The choices we make are shaped by the choices we have. Not a single one of our residents should have to choose between eating and affording their medication. Yet, thousands of residents find themselves in that very predicament each month. Guaranteeing Healthcare lifts the burden of this system from all our shoulders.
Having worked in the DC Public School System for the past five years, I have seen the struggles our students face with attendance and engagement in traditional classrooms. We need to increase funding for vocational and trade training and Social-Emotional services.
Increased Social and Emotional services would provide the additional support many of our students and families need to adjust to trauma, change, loss, economic instability, and other issues that hinder their success.
DC’s high school graduation racial gap increased 85% between 2017-2018. Our high school drop-out rates are among the highest in the Nation. We must develop new pathways that keep our kids engaged while preparing them for the opportunities of the future.
Universal Basic Income (UBI)
Universal Basic Income is a program where each DC resident would receive $1000 a month for life to help them live with greater security.
Championed in the 1960s by Martin Luther King Jr., an unconditional basic income would provide our people with an avenue to eradicate financial poverty, offer a lifeline to those in need, and ensure that they can more fully participate in the American story. We pay into the world’s wealthiest economy and have the means to take care of our citizens. Universal Basic Income provides a meaningful pathway for doing so.
More DC families are living in shelters now than at any time in our history. Yet, our communities were faced with a chronic housing crisis before the pandemic. Hundreds of our neighbors are facing housing insecurity as families struggle to keep up with their rent and mortgage. Broken promises from contractors to “set aside” units for low to moderate-income families in new developments have not panned out. Every resident deserves adequate and affordable housing.
Criminal Justice Reform
We need to reallocate funds to build more positive partnerships with community agencies and other care providers (i.e., therapists, social workers, Chaplains, and others to assist in servicing the non-violent crime issues), freeing our officers to focus on more critical areas of the City. We also need funding redirected to de-escalation tactics and methods that reduce police brutality.
Environmental justice happens when everyone, regardless of race, color, or income, receives equal protection from environmental harms and risks, and access to adequate environmental resources. By collaborating with community members, government organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and academic institutions to address environmental and health-related inequities, we can improve our environmental and health-related outcomes at the community level. We want to provide accessible and culturally appropriate opportunities for cultural minorities and isolated stakeholders to share their perspectives in decision-making processes and outcomes.
More than 35% of our residents report a chronic sleep deficiency year to year – resulting in decreased quality of life and increased risk factors for long-term illnesses, and depression among our people is skyrocketing. DC has more mental health providers compared to the national average, but low-income minority communities in DC are less likely to have access to a mental health treatment facility. Low income communities are less likely to have access to mental health resources and professionals than high-income communities. This is unacceptable and we need to guarantee access to high-quality mental health services for children and adults.
Mental health cannot continue to be stigmatized; it is an essential piece of how we consider the collective health and well-being of our city. In the short term, we need to increase affordable telehealth access to connect residents with mental health counselors. In the long term, we need to invest in workforce development programs to provide mental health training to advanced practice nurses and primary care physicians. Behavioral health professions are growing in demand and we should also encourage college students to consider these pathways with positive incentives to practice in shortage areas, including scholarships and loan repayment.
Ranked Choice Voting
In our current system, the candidate who earns the most votes wins the election. This kind of “first-past-the-post” system often yields elected officials who win despite often earning a relatively small portion of the overall votes, especially in primary elections with several candidates. The majority of our community’s residents are left feeling like they're not represented or that their voice and interests simply don’t matter. This drives partisanship and favors extreme candidates who divide constituents rather than bring people together.
In ranked-choice voting, each voter ranks their top three candidates by preference, from 1 to 3. After this is complete, every voter’s first choice is tallied. If a candidate wins a majority (50%+) of first-preference votes, they are declared the winner of the election. If no candidate hits the majority threshold, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Then, everyone who listed that eliminated candidate as their first choice has their second choice considered, a process that continues until a candidate achieves 50% support.
Benefits of Ranked-Choice Voting Include:
Better capturing voter preferences. Each voter can express how they feel about more candidates, so the outcome tends to reflect voters’ choices better.
Allows for more moderate candidates. A candidate with cross-aisle appeal is more likely to win using a ranked-choice voting system since voters can express their preference for a more partisan candidate as well as the more moderate choice.
Ranked-choice voting is often associated with a 10-point increase in voter turnout.
Lowers levels of negative campaigning. Since each voter can potentially vote for a candidate as well as their opponent, candidates shy from negative campaigning that would alienate the supporters of other candidates instead of trying to appeal to those voters as their second or third choice.
We need to end the wrongful and dangerous workplace discrimination of our LGBTQ colleagues in the workplace. We must support the LGBTQ community by passing the Equality Act (HR 5).
More than 48% of DC LGBTQ+ youth have seriously considered suicide over the past year. Over 40% of homeless youths in DC are LGBTQ+. These numbers are rising, and we need to establish robust mental health and shelter systems responsive to LGBTQ+ youths' needs.
We need to empower transgender sex workers in exploitative and high-risk situations by putting economic and health resources into their hands, championing their voices in the justice system, and supporting the decriminalization of sex work.
Economic Justice is at the heart of this campaign. Finding ways to empower people to take charge of their own financial destinies is our policy goal! Tools like #UBI and Crypto pave the way for a more just financial future. And #WeBelieve that future is Now.
Economic justice aims to create opportunities for every person to have a dignified, productive and creative life. It is rooted in the idea that the economy will be more successful if it is fairer and allows all people to reach their full potential.
The ultimate goal of economically just policies is to create opportunities for each person to build a sufficient material foundation upon which to have a dignified, productive, and creative life, thereby establishing a more human centered economy.
Addressing income inequality, the gender pay gap, the racial wealth gap and lack of living wages, affordable housing and crushing student loan debt are paramount to leveling the economic playing field. Finding innovative solutions is necessary to counter the economic disparities we see playing out everyday.