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D.C. Honors the Life and Legacy of Nelson Mandela

The world mourns the loss of a courageous leader, Nelson Mandela, a man who sacrificed his life to end apartheid in South Africa in his fight for peace and equality.  Not everyone is born to lead a country and create change, but Nelson Mandela committed his entire life so that the people of South Africa would be free from apartheid. The road to freedom is a long one – Mandela spent 27 years in prison but never lost hope or direction. He was confident that he “could lead his people in the right direction.” He never lost sight of “a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.”

We will remember Nelson Mandela as one who inspired and united the people of South Africa and led them to freedom through peaceful acts. His vision became a reality – four years after being released from prison – Mandela in 1994 voted with his people for the first time in his life and shortly thereafter became the first Black President of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela’s legacy will live on forever in the hearts and minds of D.C. residents who marveled his life. His actions and leadership has significant meaning to our city. The legacy he created will live on through future generations as we continue to break down barriers and strive for equality among all people. We will cherish and honor his memory and the contributions that he has made to his country and to the world.



Local Resident Voting Rights Act of 2013

This morning along with Councilmembers Graham, Bowser and Wells, I introduced the Local Resident Voting Rights Act of 2013. This bill would grant DC residents who are not U.S. citizens but are legal permanent residents voting rights for local municipal elections.

“All politics is local” is a common phrase in the U.S. political system. And while plenty of ink is spilled in this town giving the play-by-play on the endless rounds of political tug-a-war on the federal level, what most District residents care are the tangible things that affect their day-to-day life.

Pot holes, community centers, playgrounds, minimum wage, taxes, supercans, snow removal, alley closings, alcohol license moratoriums, red light cameras…these are all important issues that voters in the District of Columbia entrust their leaders with. And unfortunately, not all of our residents have say in choosing the individuals who make these decisions. In my opinion, that is unjust.

Since 1970, the District of Columbia has had a steady increase in the number of foreign-born residents. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2012), approximately 53,975 residents in the District are foreign born, but not naturalized U.S. citizens.  Over 90% of that population is 18 years of age or older. These are law-abiding taxpayers who should have the opportunity to have their voices heard in local elections.

For most of American history, noncitizens were permitted to vote in 22 states and federal territories. It was not until the 1920s that, amidst anti-immigrant hysteria, lawmakers began to bar noncitizens from voting in local and statewide elections.

Currently, there are seven jurisdictions where noncitizens can vote in local elections in the U.S., six of which are in neighboring Maryland. None of these cities or towns has experienced incidents of voting fraud with regard to noncitizens voting in federal elections.

A similar bill was introduced in the Council in 2004 and unfortunately due to the political climate at the time regarding immigration reform, did not receive a full consideration by this Council. Almost ten years later, its time for us to reignite this conversation. After all, if we are in fact ‘One City’, how can we continue to deny every legal District resident of age their one vote?



I’m thankful that we have so many young D.C. residents who are heavily engaged in the political process. Since I have been on the D.C. Council, I have tried to create a more transparent system where residents can offer input and engage on issues that are important to them whether it is education, the budget, increasing the minimum wage – you name it! Over the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with students from Powell Elementary, Wilson High School, Center City Public Charter School, and Archbishop Carroll High School on some of these very issues. It’s easy for us to think of kids today as uninformed and uninterested, but I’ve had a very different experience. The young people who contact me to offer their input have been engaging, witty and incredibly honest about their frustrations and hopes for our city. These conversations keep me encouraged about the future, and for that I am thankful.

Blog/Famous for DC

What about DC are you most thankful for this season?

We asked our friends around town what about DC they were thankful for this season. Here are their answers.



Washington City Paper: The People Issue: They Asked, I answered


Photo Credit: Darrow Montgomery/Washington City Paper

The People Issue

We asked, they answered—the 20 people who make D.C. what it is

Freshman At-Large Councilmember David Grosso won his seat in 2012 in an unlikely victory over incumbent Michael Brown. Fresh off successfully proposing to keep the District’s government open during the federal government shutdown last month, he’s on a crusade against the Washington Pigskins name and the criminalization of marijuana. —Will Sommer

It seems like over the past year there’s been a lot of people talking about the [Pigskins]name. What do you think is behind that?

David Grosso: The whole country has shifted in a way recently the last couple years on lots of important issues. The culture’s changing, the country’s becoming more aware of when your personal actions have an impact on people.

You’re coming off the shutdown, where you came up with the idea of not closing the city government. How do you think that turned out?

I think it was a big success. I think we got a lot of attention on the issue which we hadn’t gotten in a long time.

You have personal experience with a marijuana possession arrest. How did that play into your feelings on marijuana legalization?

I have two personal experiences actually with this situation that I think go hand in hand. Yeah, I was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana in 1993 in Florida. It was a misdemeanor with possession case, and it’s been well discussed in D.C.

But I think more interesting is an experience I had when I was growing up in the city here. We moved into the city when I was 16 years old, to the corner of Georgia and New Hampshire Ave on Rock Creek Church Road—my mom still lives there. That was in 1987. In 1987, in that neighborhood, there was no Metro, it was very poor, and it was a hotspot for dealing drugs on all those corners. I used to work at Col. Brooks Tavern over in Northeast.

I would go to work and I would come home at two, three in the morning, and park my car usually on the corner because there was no spot there, and walk by the corner of Rock Creek Church Road and Warder Street, where there’d be a gang of guys hanging out dealing drugs, right?

Probably more than a dozen times I walked by there, when the police were there with them up against the wall, searching these folks. Not once in my years of doing that did the police ever look twice at me. They didn’t push me against the wall; they didn’t question me. They didn’t ask me what the heck I was doing there. Not even glanced at.

I’m white, all those kids were black. It tells you something, and it makes you a little nervous that we’re going down the wrong path.

It’s like it’s already decriminalized for wealthy white people in D.C.

I won’t tell you what I had in my pocket, usually. They could’ve arrested me, too, and that’s the point.

To see the full People Issue click here.