The Washington Afro-American
September 25, 1993

D.C. Voters Approve Of Initiative 37

By D.L. Kinch
Washington AFRO Staff

Despite D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton's public opposition to Initiative 37, the question on last Tuesday's Special Election ballot, District Voters apparently decided the question was a good idea.

Initiative 37 won approval with 41,008 votes in favor of the question. while 31,904 voters decided against it. The question asked voters to support money set aside for weapons to be used for domestic programs, such as education. jobs and health care. New Chairman-elect David Clarke did not have comment on Election Night.

"I have been so preoccupied with the campaign. I hadn't really thought about Initiative 37," Mr. Clarke replied when questioned. In August 1992, the D.C. City Council decided to place the question on the next election ballot at the urging of Proposition One Committee, the group responsible for primarily bringing the subject to attention Ward Five Council member Harry Thomas, however, sided with Delegate Norton.

"I think it's bad legislation." Mr. Thomas stated during Chairman-elect Clarke's Victory party. We haven't educated people enough on it."

Initiative 37's victory would call for Mayor Kelly to write Delegate Norton a letter, asking that the question be brought before congress, something that Ms. Norton maintains she refuses to do.

"Bringing this question to congress would damage the reputation of D.C. voters," Ms. Norton told Mr. William Thomas and Homeless Advocate Wimberly 'Lenny' Higgs in a meeting last Monday. "It would hurt our bid for statehood and we would not be taken seriously by congress.

According to Mr. William Thomas, the measure needs to be an amendment because a legislative bill will not be strong enough or possibly, not even enforced.

"We need to adopt a 'Peace through peace talks attitude, instead of 'Peace through Strength', which really means 'Peace through Violence'. We could be using that money for our own needs," Mr. Thomas stated during last Monday's demonstration in front of Delegate Norton's office Building.

Ms. Norton contends that she agrees with the issues based by the initiative, but does not,agree that it calls for an Constitutional amendment.

"I will continue to raise the issues in the question, but through legislative means," said the District delegate.

Proposition One committee believes her action, which was officially made on Monday, right before Election Tuesday, to be a "low blow", and does not give Initiative 37 a fighting chance. "This initiative is not etched in stone," Mr. Higgs commented.

"We just want to push the question out there for voters to see and understand. Right now it is not a bill or an amendment, so to attack it at this time is not necessary."

A possible turn for Initiative 37 would be a plan for a conversion budget, something that, according to Delegate Norton's office, is an elusive gain for the Congressional Black Caucus for two decades.

"The CBC has been trying to install a conversion plan for the last twenty years, with little success" commented Donna Brazile, Delegate Norton's Media person. Delegate Norton's official acknowledgement of the successful initiative remains to be seen.