The changing of the guard in District has eliminated several obstacles to statehood. Walter Fauntroy opposed statehood for most of his term in office. When he finally came around, he insisted on personally controlling the statehood campaign. His leadership proved as ineffectual as it had been in his previous campaign for voting representation in Congress.
David Clarke, angry over being constantly outvoted as a member of the Statehood Commission, managed to author his own personal version of the D.C. constitution. Incredibly, it was approved by the city council with virtually no debate. This document has never been ratified by District residents and should immediately be replaced by the original constitution for the state of New Columbia approved by the voters.
Marion Barry never did much of anything for D.C. statehood, but his abuse of the mayor's office gave statehood opponents more than enough ammunition in the last few years to inhibit any real movement toward statehood. Finally, former council member Betty Ann Kane consistently used her considerable power to subvert the movement for statehood by delaying implementation of voter initiatives and denying needed funds.
How things have changed! Jesse Jackson, with a national reputation, has been elected shadow senator. Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon has considerable contacts with important members of the Democratic Party through her long service on the Democratic National Committee. Eleanor Holmes Norton is the new nonvoting congressional delegate, and the council has a new chair. District residents may finally have found the leadership they need to acquire the same rights that are enjoyed by all other Americans.
ROBERT E. LOVE Member D.C. Statehood Constitutional Convention Washington