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D.C. voting rights spotlighted

(Published August 14, 2000)


Staff Writer

D.C. delegates to the Re-publican National Convention in Philadelphia amplified the call for voting rights in Congress when they announced the need during roll call but neglected to push the issue in platform negotiations.

"The District of Columbia…is the heart of our democracy and has half a million tax-paying citizens who hope soon to achieve voting representation," delegation chairwoman Ann Heuer told more than 2,000 of the party’s delegates on the convention floor.

The delegation also disseminated educational leaflets — headlined "Let D.C. vote. It’s only fair"— about the District’s unique and frequently misunderstood political status to delegates at the convention, which ran July 31-Aug. 3. The leaflet quoted the supportive views of prominent Republicans, such as Sen. Robert Dole and the late President Richard Nixon.

However, the local delegation apparently forgot to raise the issue during party platform negotiations because they were concentrating on other issues, like defense. Julie Finley, immediate past chairman of the D.C. Republican Party organization and one of the District’s representatives on the platform committee, shouldered the blame for the oversight.

Delegates said the support for congressional voting representation had been included in Republican platforms since 1972, but they could not cite the specific plank language.

D.C. Democrats, who meet Aug. 14-18 in Los Angeles for their party’s national convention, said in a press release that they will "work hard…to educate and motivate the state delegations to support our right to full voting representation."

It was not noted whether the delegation would lobby to include congressional voting representation within the Democratic Party platform.

Past statements on the issues, however, indicated the divergent views of the two parties. Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic presidential candidate, outlined in February his support for statehood and voting representation in Congress. A spokesman for Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, the Republican presidential candidate, told The Common Denominator in February that Bush opposes statehood.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton head the District’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention.

The group of 32 delegates and four alternates includes D.C. City Council members Sandy Allen, Jack Evans, Jim Graham, Charlene Jarvis and Vincent Orange; former Ward 6 city council member Nadine Winter; national committeewoman Barbara Lett Simmons, national committeeman Bill Simons, national committeeman-elect Arrington Dixon; "shadow" senators Florence Pendleton and Paul Strauss; Democratic State Committee chairman Norman Neverson, vice chairwoman Patricia Elwood and treasurer Robert Artisst; advisory neighborhood commissioners Willie Flowers and Kathy Henderson; Washington Teachers Union president Barbara Bullock; and Donna Brazile, manager of the Gore campaign.

Other delegates include Morton Bahr, Yolanda Caraway, Charles Cotton, Debra DeLee, Linda Finkel-Talvadkar, Hartina Flournoy, Lawrence Hemphill, William Lucy, David Meadows, Miriam Saez, Elizabeth Smith, Romaine Thomas and James Zogby.

Alternate delegates are Wanda Alston, Ronnie Edwards, George Fenderson and Amanda Hatcher Lyon.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator