Since the Council should be busy writing laws and overseeing District agencies I wanted to propose a low cost, organized, and focused way for members of the Council to join in the push for statehood. The plan is this: each Councilmember adopts a state or group of states thereby agreeing to meet with every member of each state delegation (House & Senate) over the next year. Below is a suggested list of which states each Councilmember should take on. While they can go to the meetings by themselves they could also ask constituents to sign-up to join them at these meetings to help build more advocates across the city for statehood.
So here we go:
- Chairman Phil Mendelson (At-Large): Originally from Ohio, our Chairman should be tasked with the delegation from the Buckeye state which includes the lovely Speaker of the House, John Boehner. The Chairman would only have to have 18 meetings about statehood to fulfill his assignment.
- Councilmember Jim Graham (Ward 1): While Scotland, his native land, has just as much representation in Congress as the District it’s probably best to task Mr. Graham with the state that provided him with his post-secondary education, Michigan. Mr. Graham, despite not driving a Michigan made car, should have no problem fulfilling 15 meetings on the Hill in the coming year.
- Councilmember Jack Evans (Ward 2): Hailing from the Keystone state and attending a whole bunch of schooling there, Mr. Evans should take on Pennsylvania’s 21 member delegation as his charge. Given James Carville once described Pennsylvania as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama down the middle” we think it’s a great idea to have Jack Evans meet with their delegation since Georgetown and Dupont Circle are just like Alabama.
- Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3): With some serious Jersey roots on her resume Ms. Cheh should take on the Garden State’s delegation. Having to set-up and attend 15 meetings with the New Jersey delegation shouldn’t be too hard and she should give her GW students extra credit if they join in on a meeting or two.
- Councilmember Muriel Bowser (Ward 4): Ms. Bowser is a real hometowner with no logical link to one of the 50 states so since she represents the northern most portion of the District we’ll assign her the northern most portion of the east coast: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and we’ll throw in Rhode Island for the heck of it (even though we know Massachusetts is north of RI). What they lack in representation in the House those states more than make up for it in the Senate proving that statehood really is important to small areas/small states. Thus Ward 4’s wannabe mayor will have to meet with 15 offices while balancing work on the Council and on the campaign trail.
- Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5): Since he attended the University of Maryland Law School he should take on the Free State (aka the Old Bay State) and Delaware just because. In total Mr. McDuffie would have to set-up and attend 13 meetings on statehood (just over one meeting a month).
- Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6): Similar to Ms. Bowser, Mr. Wells will have to balance his Council duties with his mayoral ambitions while handling statehood lobby duties with the nice folk from Minnesota, where he attended college, and the fine delegations from both North & South Dakota. All told CM Wells will be meeting with 16 congressional offices while also balancing his elected duties and his personal/political ambitions.
- Councilmember Yvette Alexander (Ward 7): CM Alexander was criticized last election year by her opponents as not being a very effective councilmember. While universally liked critics said there weren’t too many results under her leadership so we’re giving her a large delegation to lobby to prove she can bring results. Ms. Alexander should take on meeting with and lobbying the entire Empire State’s delegation of 29 members. Also, since she’s one of the few councilmembers not thinking about or actively running for mayor she might have a few more days free to have meetings on the Hill.
- Councilmember Marion Barry (Ward 8): It’s often said that ‘what’s past is prologue’ and for Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry where asking him to go back to his roots and work with the delegations from Mississippi and Alabama. Mr. Barry would be meeting with 15 offices from the states where he first began civil rights work in the 1960s. It would be rather fitting, albeit complicated, to have Mr. Barry meet with those delegations to once again press for equality.
- Councilmember David Catania (At-Large): Born in Kansas City, Mo., we’ll ask CM Catania to take on both Missouri and Kansas to lobby for statehood. With his sharp wit and acid tongue we hope he’s able to play nice at these meeting but we think he’s up to the challenge of meeting with a mere 16 offices on the Hill.
- Councilmember Vincent Orange (At-Large): Because he’s called himself the Best, we’re assigning him the biggest state to prove it. He attended the University of the Pacific which gives him a link to California and by giving him more meetings than anyone else on the Council, 55 total, hopefully it keeps him from running for another office which he so loves to do.
- Councilmember David Grosso (At-Large): While David is from the District he spent time in his youth in Virginia so we’ll assign him to work with the delegation from across the Potomac as well as the delegation from Wet, Wild, & Wonderful West Virginia. Mr. Grosso will have to meet with 18 offices but he’s worked on the Hill so it should be a breeze for him.
- Councilmember Anita Bonds (At-Large): We’ll wait until after #Four23DC on this one…
And it’s as simple as that! Our councilmembers should each adopt a state or states to lobby over the next year and on average it means that each councilmember has to meet with just over one or two offices a month to promote the statehood bills. If the Councilmembers fulfill these assignments that would mean they would have met with 246 members of the House & Senate which is 46% of Congress in one year!!! Additionally, it would mean that they would have covered the entire Congressional delegations of 21 of the 50 states. These meetings don’t mean we’ll get statehood supporters but we’ll be spreading the word, educating members, and building relationships about what we want and it all will be at no cost to the District taxpayers. The Council should take on a leadership role in the statehood movement but it doesn’t need to be flashy, it needs to be focused, methodical, and realistic. Having each member adopt as state or states is one way to focus our efforts in the push for statehood.
Just a thought,