Wow, what an unexpected victory Tuesday (October 18), when the Council voted 8 to 5 to adopt an amendment offered by Councilmembers Charles Allen, David Grosso, Kenyan McDuffie, Brianne Nadeau, Elissa Silverman, and Robert White to the Council Resolution “Constitution and Boundaries for the State of New Columbia Approval Resolution of 2016″ (PR 21-913). These Councilmembers were joined by Yvette Alexander and LaRuby May to pass the amendment. Please read the Washington Post article about the vote. We are also heartened to learn that Mayor Bowser supports the changes to the constitution.
We are especially grateful to At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman and her staff for their assistance throughout this campaign, together with At-Large Councilmember Robert White, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen and At-Large Councilmember David Grosso.
DC for Democracy members have argued that the constitution deserves serious deliberation by a bona fide constitutional convention of elected delegates. That is why, despite numerous concerns with the constitution, we focused on changing the method by which the constitution could be amended. With this amendment, we won three of the four key provisions we pushed for, in collaboration with a broad grassroots coalition.
The three provisions we won are:
1) Ensuring the delegates to the constitutional convention would be elected (not “selected”). The constitution passed by the New Columbia Statehood Commission did not specify that the delegates would be elected, and the so-called “constitutional convention” last summer was reason to demand that this be made explicit.
2) Ensuring that the constitutional convention could change any aspect of the constitution. The original committee print had given the Legislative Assembly power to constrain the scope of what the constitutional convention could consider.
3) Ensuring that the constitutional convention had full authority to change the constitution, subject only to ratification by voters. The original version had empowered the constitutional convention to merely make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly.
We failed only to change the timing of the constitutional convention. While we had pushed to have the constitutional convention held one year after admission, the Council kept the timing to two years after admission — not a big deal.
We have more work to do on this front (i.e. initiate a constitutional convention in 2017 or 2018, so we don’t have to wait until we become a state to fix our constitution), but please take a few minutes today to feel good about what you, DC4D and our progressive allies accomplished for democracy and civic engagement!
So many DC4D members helped by contacting Councilmembers that I cannot possibly thank everyone by name, but I would like to highlight a few members: Steering Committee members Keith Ivey, Jesse Lovell, and Andrea Rosen for the key role they played in defining our strategy; Anise Jenkins, for mobilizing the members of Stand Up for Democracy/Free DC; Ann Loikow for mobilizing support of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee; Markus Batchelor, who might well be credited with in winning LaRuby May’s vote; Claudia Barragan and Walter Deleon for their work through the DC Latino Caucus; and David Schwartzman for mobilizing the Statehood Green Party.
And if you can, please also take a minute to thank the Councilmembers who voted for democracy yesterday (feel free to tweet, as well):
At-Large Councilmember David Grosso firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 724-8105
At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman email@example.com (202)-724-7772
At-Large Councilmember Robert White firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 724-8174
Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau email@example.com (202) 724-8181
Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 724-8028
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen email@example.com (202)-724-8072
Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 724-8068
Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May LMay@DCCOUNCIL.US (202)724-8045