Dear presidential candidates:
Several prominent organizations in the District of Columbia (see attached list) are providing their support and endorsement for a 2012 presidential debate in the District of Columbia focused on D.C. issues relating to sovereignty (statehood), budget autonomy, and the unique needs of the District both economically and in the area of public services.
For too long, the District of Columbia has been given lip service by the Democratic and Republican parties. The District has been exploited as a backdrop for large partisan fundraisers in its major hotels, restaurants and clubs. But the District’s human and political rights have been ignored. Earlier this month the Democratic National Convention refused to even allow both Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Vincent Gray to speak briefly to the convention on behalf of the residents of the nation’s capital.
Led by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (see the attached letter of specific endorsement), civic, labor, religious, business and educational endorsers are requesting a presidential debate to be held in the District of Columbia. A geographically and logistically convenient venue can be arranged in short order. Our presidential candidates rarely discuss the needs of the people who live in Washington, D.C. – the home of the White House and the president. For a national government to talk about supporting democracy abroad, yet suppress the full voting rights via statehood of the residents of the District of Columbia, amounts to an exercise in hypocrisy and deep disregard.
We look forward to your affirmative response for a D.C. debate on serious D.C. issues as soon as possible.
Please do not divert this request, supported by the overwhelming number of the 615,000 residents of the District, to the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The CPD is a private corporation created and controlled by the Republican and Democratic Parties that choreograph the frequency, location, format and questioners of the debates down to the smallest detail. The CPD was thoroughly exposed in 2004 by George Farah’s No Debate book. Mr. Farah, a Harvard-trained lawyer, monitors the CPD (see his website).
Please stand for more open democratic processes that enlighten the voters around the country.
Those who have provided their active support and endorsement to bringing a 2012 presidential debate to the District of Columbia.
- Honorable Vincent C. Gray, Mayor, District of Columbia
- Andy Shallal, Busboys and Poets Restaurants, (President, Think Local DC First)
- Rev. John Wimberly, Western Presbyterian Church
- League of Women Voters, District of Columbia Chapter
- George T. Johnson, Council 2, American Fed. Of State, County, Municipal Employees
- Rev. Graylan Hagler, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ
- Don Cash, United Food and Commercial Workers, Minority Coalition
- Rev. Arthur Waidmann, Pastor, ret. United Church of Christ
- Rev. Bernard Hillenbrand, Hillenbruck Farm
- Keith Silver, ANC Commissioner, 6C-01, Co-founder, Peacewalk, (President DC Southern Christian Leadership Chapter 2007-present)
- Rev. Patricia Fears, Fellowship Baptist Church
- Thomas Blanton, Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters Union, DC
- Gigi Ransom, ANC Commissioner, 5C-12
- Jay Winter Nightwolf, Programmer, WPFW Radio (Echota Cherokee Nation)
- Medea Benjamin, co-founder Code Pink and Global Exchange
- Dr. Darryl Trimiew, Chair, Dept. of Philosophy and Religion, Medgar Evers College
- Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network
- DC Statehood Green Party
- Ann Renshaw, President, Federation of Citizens Association of District of Columbia
- Jim Dougherty, Board of Directors, Sierra Club
- Anise Jenkins, Stand Up for Democracy
- Lois Gibbs, CHEJ
- Fair Vote
- DC Vote
- NAACP DC Branch