With national attention focused on the District, Maryland, and Virginia, it's exciting to be at the center of perhaps the most contentious nominating contest in recent history, but it's also easy to forget what the election in November could mean for the thousands of District residents that face a troubling set of core challenges:
- A Democrat in the White House will absolutely bring us as close as we've ever been to enfranchising the hundreds of thousands of DC residents who are the only American citizens in contiguous United States who are denied voting representation in congress!
- It's no secret that the educational system in DC is badly broken. Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee are certainly off to a fervent start in repairing the system, but we can't forget that electing a president who cares about education puts a powerful advocate in our back yard (and of course, we care about educational equity for all Americans, beyond our borders). To put into perspective how stark our educational crisis is, consider this: over one-third of District residents are functionally illiterate, compared with only one-fifth nationally.
- We need careful and fair development of the city, a strategy that celebrates the rich cultural and political heritage of DC's many neighborhoods, and that emphasizes the value of community and the need for affordable housing as we support economic redevelopment and opportunity.
- Perhaps the healthcare crisis is nowhere more dire than in the nation's capital, where residents face the nation's highest HIV/AIDS rate and face significant obstacles to receiving even basic preventative care, prenatal care, dental care, and urgent care services. Consider that, save for overburdened hospital emergency rooms, there are no urgent care facilities open in DC on the weekend.
- Even our drinking water is in peril. The Washington Post reported in the summer of last year that lead exposure leads to violent crime. The District has been battling lead in our drinking water for decades, and unfortunately, lead exposure is a better indicator of crime than almost any other suggested causes of crime.
Let's be sure to keep local issues alive this week and on through November, because the District must be a model of the transformative power of good government, right here at the seat of federal power. We need to bring a Democrat back to Pennsylvania Avenue - for the international community, the country, and our city.