ISSUES RATHER THAN choices between candidates dominate the decisions facing District voters in the general election. Before the primary, we said Mayor Barry should be reelected, and nothing since changes things. Similarly, the other primary winners so far have not been put to second tests of any consequence. The one name voters may add to the list is at-large incumbent Hilda Mason of the Statehood Party. Whatever voters may think of the statehood constitution proposal on the ballot, she has earned another term.
As for that proposed state constitution, it should be rejected. A vote to do so would not be a vote to oppose statehood. On the contrary, to accept this politically charged and poorly worded document could cause irreparable damage to the cause.
Not only have the very authors of this proposal had second thoughts, but other local officials are acknowledging its flaws by promising to clean it up if only the voters will hold their noses and vote to approve it.
But even that route is troublesome. The convention delegates themselves, on a split vote, urged the D.C. Council to change the ballot from a yes-or-no question to an article-by-article vote. Too hard, said the council, but we'll fix up the draft if the voters will say yes. Better yet, said congressional delegate Walter Fauntroy, he will "assist the relevant committees of the Congress in crafting a proposed constitution more to our liking."
There you have it: just close your eyes, say yes to a mess and return to the old colonial way of life by asking Congress to step in and do the job. Sound familiar? Too much so.
Also on the ballot is a call for a nuclear weapons freeze. This, in the words of a summary statement, would make it the policy of the District to: 1) support a mutual Soviet-American freeze "as a first step towards arms reduction, 2) encourage redirection of resources to jobs and human needs; and 3) recognize prevention of nuclear war as the only defense against nuclear destruction."
We have suggested that the nationwide freeze campaign serves much better as a vehicle for expressing anxiety about the national administration's nuclear policy than as a prescription for a policy in itself. Proponents hope that a mutual freeze would cork the arms race. President Reagan responds that it would lock the United States into strategic inferiority -- a debatable point -- and hinder programs to put the great powers' nuclear forces on a slower trigger in a crisis -- a sound point.
District residents, unrepresented in the floor votes of Congress, may welcome this rare chance to offer a political judgment on a national policy question. Still, the substantive issues bound up in a freeze do not lend themselves easily to a popular referendum.