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|Good morning. My name is Steve
Donkin and I am announcing my candidacy for Mayor of the District of
Columbia on the D.C. Statehood Green Party ticket.
Today is May 1, the beginning of National Homeless Month. It is also International Labor Day— a day of great meaning for working people, all advocates for peace, freedom and justice, and common people of all nationalities and ethnicities. Yet on this day, in the year 2002, we still find ourselves struggling against corruption in government and political leaders who are up for sale to the highest bidder, while the poor, the disenfranchised, the young, elderly and those otherwise deserving of some of the benefits our so-called booming economy are left behind. This campaign will be a step toward righting these wrongs.
Like a bowtie tied too tight around the neck, the incumbent administration has maintained a stranglehold on the public resources of this city that must either be broken or be the death of our diverse communities as we know them. Today we declare the beginning of the "People's Revolt Against Bowtie Tyranny."
The people of D.C. have been lied to, betrayed, bamboozled, and sold down the river by our elected officials for far too long.
The fight to retrieve our basic human rights from the grasp of fat-cat corporate special interests and their government hacks has been a long time coming and is building in momentum. Today, we put another spark to the engine of that movement by presenting to the people of this city—with great pride— a mayoral candidacy and a political party—the D.C. Statehood Green Party—of which they can truly claim full ownership.
We are the movement that comes from the people, stands by the people, and vows to fight for the people relentlessly and without compromise. We follow proudly in the tradition of Julius Hobson, Josephine Butler, and other heroes of the D.C. Statehood and grassroots justice movement.
Here is some of what you can count on from the Donkin for Mayor candidacy:
1) We are not for sale. Corporate lobbyists—whether they come from for-profit health maintenance providers based in Scottsdale, Arizona or for-profit prison contractors based in Nashville, Tennessee or anti-union mega-hotel conglomerates based in Bethesda, Maryland—can spend their blood money elsewhere. We have no use for it.
2) We adamantly opposed Mayor Williams' closure of our public hospital, D.C. General, and we continue to demand full restoration of that hospital. But even keeping the hospital open would not have addressed all our health care needs in the District. We need—and under my administration, we will get—full and universal health care, funded through a public single-payer insurance system that eliminates the for-profit insurers and covers everyone, regardless of income or employment status. Every democratic developed country except the U.S. has such a system; in Canada their national single-payer system was begun locally, and we can begin right here in D.C.
3) We will get a living wage law passed in D.C. Over 80 jurisdictions around the country—some under the leadership of elected Green Party officials—have passed living wage laws, and they work. It's time that the workers that labor in the nation's capital were paid a dignified wage with benefits so that they can enjoy the quality of life that we all deserve. It's also time they got a mayor who fully supports their right to organize.
4) With regard to the education of our children, no expense will be spared. Mayor Williams has been a free-spender when it comes to public funding for private developers, and a tightwad when it comes to funding our public schools, libraries, recreation facilities, and public university. We will do the reverse. Public education will be fully funded—and held accountable for the results obtained—while the billionaires who want to use the public treasury to finance their pet projects will be sent packing. Let them finance their own stadiums, Olympic parks, convention centers, and high-priced hotels with their own money.
5) The D.C. Statehood Green Party fully supports reparations for the descendants of the victims of the African slave trade. We will do more than simply give verbal support for some vague measures. We will implement a local D.C. reparations bill that will start the process rolling nationally so we can stop talking about it and start doing something about it.
6) The D.C. Statehood Green Party supports the right of non-citizen residents to vote in local elections. We advocate a change from the current winner-take-all system of elections to a fairer system of instant run-off voting and proportional representation, which will open up the process to allow the people to elect a more diverse and representative government. Again, most democracies in the world have such a system—the U.S. does not, which is why most people don't even bother to vote.
7) We will restore and increase funding to the safety net that is meant to care for our most vulnerable residents, and has been shredded by the Williams regime. Any society that exhibits such disregard for the welfare of the poor, the elderly, the young, the mentally and physically disabled, the homeless, the sick, and others in need is unworthy of the name civilized. Our administration will make the commitment to ensure that no longer will people freeze to death in the streets of our city from inadequate shelter, no longer will children in foster care be neglected and abused, no longer will people with AIDS go without treatment and people at risk for AIDS go without prevention and education, no longer will our elderly languish in squalid nursing homes unfit for stray animals, no longer will childhood asthma and cancer rates continue to sore while the polluters that cause such misery go unchecked, no longer will immigrants and our youth be criminalized and harassed by a police force that is unable to investigate a real crime without bungling it, no longer will adequate treatment for mental illness or chemical addiction be denied, no longer will our loved ones in prison be shipped all over the country to feed a growing for-profit prison industry that revives the old slave trade practice of treating humans like commodities, no longer will residents be forced out of their homes by run-away development and gentrification— all while our elected leaders mouth comforting platitudes like "I feel your pain" then look the other way. We will make them truly feel our pain, and our administration will take action and be accountable.
8) The funding of these essential public needs will be accomplished by some simple but radical shifts in our local budget priorities and tax structure. We will repeal the Tax Parity Act, which will have reduced revenue for the city by nearly 300 million dollars per year by 2004 if it is fully phased in, all the while giving the bulk of the tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of middle- and low-income families. We will further restructure our current regressive tax system in D.C. and create a progressive system calculated as a percentage of the federal tax payment, which will increase revenue for essential services like education and provide real tax relief for middle- and low-income working families. And we will continue to claim our right to implement a reciprocal income tax with surrounding jurisdictions and demand a full annual payment for non-taxed property in D.C. owned by the federal government.
9) Finally, the D.C. Statehood Green Party is fully committed to Statehood for D.C. and we will step up the movement for Statehood so that not another generation will go by seeing this dream deferred. And we will be very clear—the current talk of mere "voting rights," "virtual statehood," and "no taxation without representation" is inadequate, misguided, and in fact a detriment to the Statehood movement, not an enhancement. The proponents of these half measures, including unfortunately our own delegate to Congress, do a serious disservice to the people of D.C. telling us to be satisfied with less than our full rights. By demanding Statehood we are demanding the full citizenship rights enjoyed by all other U.S. citizens—two voting senators and a voting representative, full legislative, budgetary and judicial autonomy, the ability to implement our locally passed voter initiatives and our local budgets as we see fit, and the abolishment of the anti-democratic congressional D.C. oversight and appropriations committees. We are demanding all of these at once, and we are demanding them now. We are following the dictum of Martin Luther King Jr. when, writing in his Letter from Birmingham Jail on a similar issue of basic civil rights, he said, "For years now I have heard the word WAIT! This WAIT has almost always meant NEVER. We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that 'justice too long delayed is justice denied.'"
By the way, you can go to the D.C. Statehood Green website at www.dcstatehoodgreen.org to view and sign our worldwide petition for D.C. Statehood.
The Donkin for Mayor campaign will not be a typical political campaign such as is repeated time and again every election year in every ward of this our city. Perhaps this rut which we have got ourselves into of mindlessly pursuing politics as usual by the same tired rules that have been enforced by our oppressors for decades is the main reason that the capital of our nation still is the last plantation.
The Donkin for Mayor campaign is instead a campaign born in struggle. It is the age-old struggle of the people against tyranny and oppression, the struggle for liberty, justice and self- determination, and it is a struggle that we desperately need right now. As one of D.C.'s most revered residents, Frederick Douglass, said one hundred and forty-five years ago: "This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Let us join together in making our demands loud and clear, and backed up by organized force.
Tomorrow we begin the work of building the struggle by taking this campaign on the road, door-to-door, neighborhood-to-neighborhood, ward-to-ward. Let's organize, fight for justice, and free D.C.! Thank you.
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