From Georgetown lawyer to far Southeast poverty worker, bureaucrat to businessman, Communist to conservative, gay to straight, teacher to tenant organizer and city politician to just plain Joe citizen, they are the "we, the people" of the District of Columbia.
Elected by city voters last week, they are about to take the next step in what many critics call a quixotic journey to make Washington the nation's 51st state.
They are the 45 delegates chosen for the city's first state constitutional convention, a 90-day, $150,000 gathering scheduled early next year that will write a basic document under which the District would operate should it ever become a state.
Largely ignored by the city's power establishment as a kind of political runt of the litter, the statehood movement has limped for a decade behind the city's push for limited home rule and voting rights in Congress.
But last year, voters approved a citizens' initiative requiring the city to begin the lengthy legal process of electing delegates to write a draft constitution. That document must then be ratified by the city's voters and Congress before statehood can be granted.
The delegates chosen last Tuesday ran largely low-cost, low-profile campaigns without developing major issues about what kind of state the city would become. About 60 percent black and 45 percent female, they were chosen from a diverse but predominantly activist field of more than 100 candidates, many of them veterans of community and single-issue politics.
"It's a diversified group, very reflective of the population of the city," said Jan Eichhorn, an official of the Department of Human Ser vices, and a convention delegate from Ward 6.
"Nobody is advocating a long laundry list of issues for the constitution," said Ward 2 delegate Alexa Freeman. Most want a "simple, straightforward document that will pass Congress," she said.
Several delegates have privately expressed concern that the convention will have a tough time avoiding "petty politics" even if it succeeds in writing a constitution stripped of the more extreme ideological freight of some delegates.
Inevitably, some will also see the convention as a stepping stone to other political positions in the city, several participants said.
"Too many special interests" may spoil the convention, another said. "It would never pass the voters or Congress and we would be the laughing stock of the country."
"It will be interesting to see when they get together and start jockeying for position," said another delegate, anticipating the potentially fractious task of electing convention officials and picking the committees that will design the proposed state's legislature, judiciary, executive and taxation powers.
Even with a traditional constitution, delegates acknowledge it could be many years before Congress accepts the city's statehood petition.
Only a few of the delegates are well known in the city. They include four elected officeholders: City Council members David A. Clarke, Hilda Mason and Jerry A. Moore Jr. and school board member Barbara Lett Simmons. All won at-large delegate seats.
Each received more than 24,000 votes in an election that saw some candidates at the ward level win with barely 1,000 votes. Mason, a member of the tiny Statehood Party and its only public officeholder, led the field with 33,395 votes.
The public officials, who have well-defined constituencies, are expected to play leading roles in the convention, along with some less well known but influential delegates chosen at the ward level.
Included in that group are Eichhorn and community activist Howard R. Croft in Ward 6; Public Service Commissioner Wesly H. Long in Ward 2; Georgetown lawyer Courts Oulahan and Justice Department employe Joel H. Garner in Ward 3; Marie Nahikian, a housing consultant and former City Council candidate, and Richard C. Bruning, of the Statehood Party in Ward 1; former school board member Vickie Street in Ward 4, and in Ward 8, Theresa H. Jones, an advocate for the poor.
Among the winners were three community and gay rights activists, Robert (Bob) Roehr, a Ward 3 Republican, and Freeman and Ken Rothschild of Ward 2.
Although the election was nonpartisan, the Democratic Party, with its 8-to-1 registration edge, is broadly represented among the delegates, including current Democratic state committee members James W. Baldwin, James E. Terrell and Jeannette Feely.
In addition, 14 of 25 candidates endorsed by the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC), a national group that places itself on the left of Democratic Party politics, won seats to the convention.
Other groups that endorsed candidates included the local Republican Party, Americans for Democratic Action and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club.
The Republicans include City Council member Moore and Ward 3's Oulahan, Roehr and Gloria R. Corn, a self-employed housing and political consultant.
Only five Statehood Party members won delegate seats, including Mason, her husband, Charles N. Mason Jr., in Ward 4; Bruning in Ward 1; Charles I. Cassell, an architect and the only person not a public official, who won an at-large seat, and Michael S. Marcus of Ward 5, a University of Southern California professor at its urban institute here.
In addition to City Council member Mason and her husband, there are other spousal links to the city's political life. Terrell in Ward 7 is husband of Mary Terrell, chief aide to City Council Chairman Arrington Dixon. In Ward 6, delegate Geraldine Warren's husband, John, is the school board member from that ward, and in Ward 8, Mildred J. Lockridge is the wife of school board member R. Calvin Lockridge.
Several of the delegates are current or past Advisory Neighborhood Commission members, including William Blount in Ward 7, Chestie Marie Graham in Ward 6 and Charlotte R. Holmes in Ward 8.
Maurice Jackson, head of the D.C. and Virginia Communist Party organization, won a seat in Ward 1, collecting 1,567 votes, or 8.3 percent of the ballots cast for 16 candidates. Jackson, who once ran for City Council under the Communist banner, could not be reached for comment. His election was front page news in the Communist Party paper, the Daily World.
Included among the delegates who hold city jobs is Anita Bellamy Shelton, from Ward 1, director of the Office of Human Rights. James E. Coates, in Ward 8, is a former president of the D.C. school board. Also chosen in Ward 8 was Absalom F. Jordan Jr., a former aide to ex-City Council member Douglas E. Moore.
Other delegates include:
Robert E. (Bob) Love, an Adams-Morgan housing activist from Ward 1; Barbara Maguire and Brian P. Moore, from Ward 2; Georgetown University law professor Philip G. Schrag of Ward 3, and Janette Hoston Harris and William B. Cooper of Ward 4.
Also, Harry L. Thomas, Talmadge L. Moore, Samuel Robinson and Norman D. Nixon, all of Ward 5; Sandra Ford Johnson and David M. Barnes of Ward 7, and Gwendolyn B. Paramore, Ward 8.