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Casting A Spotlight on the Shadow Representative

Hello DC residents! My name is Erik Metzroth and I am running to be your next US Representative. To be clear, I am NOT running against the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who is our longtime delegate to the House of Representatives. Rather, the race I have entered will determine the next “Shadow” Representative — a position created by the District of Columbia for the sole purpose of helping to achieve statehood for the District. It’s an unpaid office that has been on DC ballots every two years since 1990. And, the way I see it, it’s been extremely underutilized…until now.

For starters, most of the electorate is unaware that the job of Shadow Representative even exists. Two weeks before the 2018 DC Primaries, I conducted a straw poll of DC residents in Dupont Circle. The results were shocking, to say the least. Would you believe that only one person (who happened to work for a DC voting organization in the recent past) could name the two-term incumbent Shadow Representative? Three others ventured a guess but were incorrect. The remaining thirty residents who filled out the survey simply said they could not name the officeholder. In fact, almost everyone admitted that they didn’t know there was such a position in DC government. When you consider that the poll was administered during the window of time that people are most tuned into whom and what will appear on their upcoming ballots, it demonstrates that our residents need to be educated to the fact that they have another politician working on their behalf to end taxation without representation.

Perhaps more importantly, in the past 25 plus years that someone has held this office, almost no progress has been made in moving us toward statehood. [Again, this is literally the only issue they have ever been tasked to work towards.] Sure, our license plates look different, although none of them can take credit for it. And, yes, they have done some solid outreach and coalition-building both inside and outside of the District. But at the end of the day, we still do not have a voting member of Congress despite paying the highest federal income taxes per capita spread across a population that is larger than Wyoming or Vermont.

If you asked the incumbent, he would likely say he is doing a lot to effect change. But is he doing the right things? Watch this video and decide for yourself. I’d argue “doing the newsletter” and “doing the TV show” (which had 16 total views on its YouTube account after one month) should definitely be prioritized below “meeting on the Hill,” if at all. Even worse, our Shadow Representative takes public stances on hot-button issues instead of focusing on his ONE responsibility. Part of the reason we are still disenfranchised is because unrelated agendas have been woven into the arguments against voting rights and/or statehood. It’s probably why we see our incumbent essentially giving up on the next two years if the balance of power doesn’t switch in Congress this November. Sure, he’s not the only one to espouse this view. But it still blows my mind to think that anyone would vote for a candidate who lame ducks himself before the first votes are cast.

It bears repeating that this is a one-job job. Convincing a majority of the 535 members of Congress to vote in favor of our cause is the easiest way to attain the equal rights we seek. Our Shadow Representative should be engaging with Senators and Representatives as much as possible to hammer out a plan that ends taxation without representation and eventually leads to statehood. With the next Census (and subsequent House reapportionment) just around the corner, productivity in the next two years becomes even more critical. To accomplish this, all options need to be on a table free of partisan demands.

In spite of what others might tell you, everyone is partially to blame for this issue persisting. Thirty-four states chose not to ratify the DC Voting Rights Amendment of 1978 after it was approved by both chambers of Congress. Presidents and national party committees have been weak, at best, on voting rights and statehood. Democrats will tell you that the GOP blocks any chance at representation because DC amounts to a guaranteed blue vote. Republicans will point out that in Clinton’s and Obama’s first terms, while controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, the Democrats were the ones who ultimately let DC voters down. Honestly, even big wins for the cause (such as the overwhelming local support for the 2016 DC Statehood Referendum or Norton’s progress at adding cosponsors to the related bill) are plagued by long waits ahead, according to the Delegate herself.

On the surface, the situation seems impossible. But that’s just because everyone who volunteers to tackle this issue gets stuck in the same factional labyrinth. Allow an independent, like me, a shot at ending taxation without representation. I guarantee you I will walk around the outside of that maze until I find a path to the finish line. That said, it should be noted that I would never work against the rest of DC’s elected officials’ statehood goals. Thus, I vow that any attempt at ending taxation without representation expeditiously would include language plainly stating our fundamental drive for full statehood.

In closing, the way I see it, you have three choices this November:

  • You can rubber stamp the incumbent
  • You can abstain from voting in this particular race if you don’t want to vote against your party
  • You can write in “Erik Metzroth” for United States Representative

I hope you choose option three, but fully support your right to exercise option two. Either way, you’ll increase the chances of ending taxation without representation in the next two years.

Erik Metzroth lives in Ward 3 and is running for United States Representative (DC) in the 2018 general election as a write-in candidate. His campaign is 100% self-funded. For more information, head to DCrepresent.com.

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