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Statehood stalwart to speak at party convention

(Published April 10, 2000)

By OSCAR ABEYTA

Staff Writer

D.C. residentsí struggle for full citizenship rights will take center stage this year for the first time at a national political convention.

Board of Education representative Gail Dixon, a longtime Statehood party member, has been asked to address D.C. issues of statehood and congressional representation as well as other local issues before the national audience at the Green partyís national political convention in Denver June 24-26.

"Itíll give us a chance to have a bully pulpit for a change," Dixon said. "Weíre going to try very hard to get the word out that this is the truth about the District."

The Statehood party became part of the National Association of Green Parties when it merged with the D.C. Green Party in January. The merger made Statehood Party members part of a national party for the first time in the partyís history.

Statehood and other local D.C. issues have never had a national platform like this before, and this yearís convention is the first time Green Party members in this country have held a national convention. Dixon said Statehood Party members in the past have attended the Democratic Partyís national convention but have never had the opportunity to speak at those gatherings.

She said she will use the opportunity to educate other delegates from around the country about the state of democracy in the nationís capital. She said many people around the country are under the impression that residents of the District donít pay taxes and therefore donít deserve congressional representation.

Dixon said she was selected to speak at the convention because she is the highest elected official in the District from the Statehood Green party, even though the school board is a non-partisan body.

Dixon said she will speak about education issues at the convention, in particular the issue of charter schools. She said she is not opposed to the idea of charter schools, but she objects to the way charter schools were thrust upon the District by members of Congress who donít live in the city and canít force their own states to accept charter schools.

"We are ruled by people who come here from other places and have no connection to us," Dixon said. "I donít want Congress dictating to me on any level and I will fight that always."

Dixon also said she will use the opportunity to raise awareness of the recent federal court decision denying D.C. residents equal representation in Congress. She said in particular she wants to raise awareness about the so-called "20 citizens" suit which, if successful, would have given D.C. residents the opportunity to vote for either retrocession to Maryland or full statehood for the District.

The convention in Denver also will be an opportunity for Green party members to nominate their candidate for president. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader (whose newspaper column is published by The Common Denominator but has been temporarily suspended during his campaign) is seeking the nomination along with Joel Kovel, Steve Gaskin and the former singer of the punk group the Dead Kennedys, Jello Biafra.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator