D.C. self-rule campaign takes ‘step backwards for democracy’

Attorney general election at risk of being delayed

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“I believe the effort to postpone the election is led by a lack of support for having an elected attorney general,” said Mr. Mendelson, a Democrat. “I find that especially offensive.”

Appleseed is planning to conduct and analysis of the delay to determine whether was imposed legally.

“If you can delay it for four years, that is to say you can delay it forever,” Mr. Smith said.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, who voted in favor of the election’s delay, raised concern about the feasibility of holding an election at this time.

“I had a feeling of unreadiness,” said Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat.

Mr. Graham is one of five officials also on the council in 2001 when it voted to repeal term limits. He is the only one of the sitting members who voted against the abolishment of term limits.

Comparing the two votes, Mr. Graham drew the distinction that the 2001 proposal killed a voter-approved referendum, whereas this time around it only delays it.

“If the proposal would have been that we were going to nullify the elected attorney general, I would have voted against it,” he said.

Mr. Strauss said that, strategically, this is a poor time to give the perception that elected officials should substitute their opinions for those of voters. Federal lawmakers are in the midst of marking up the District’s appropriations bill.

“If our own elected officials aren’t going to respect our democratic choices, how do we expect federal officials to respect our democratic choices?” Mr. Strauss said.

In addition, a charter amendment passed in April, which grants the city budget autonomy, is nearing the end of its 35-day congressional review period, and though local officials worried it could evoke congressional ire, no objections have been raised.

A bill that would legislatively grant the District budget autonomy is also headed to the House floor.

“There is a certain irony, at the time the Congress is supporting the budget autonomy referendum and they are looking to fund the statehood delegation but at the same time the council members have kind of defied the will of the people,” Mr. Smith said.

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