Nate Bennett-Fleming for D.C. Council At-Large
At-Large D.C. Council Member, Washington, D.C. in DC http://www.natefordc.com
920 U St. NW
Primary Election Date: 2014-04-01 General Election Date: 2014-11-04
Who am I?
As the unpaid Shadow Representative for Washington, D.C., I lobby Congress for D.C. statehood - equal citizenship rights for the 646,000 tax-paying citizens who are denied their democratic right to vote. Elected to office in 2012, I pushed to get D.C. statehood legislation before both the House and Senate for the first time in 20 years. I have met with over 100 Congressional offices, and have organized volunteers to meet with dozens more, to advocate for D.C. statehood. Since we began our all-volunteer lobbying campaign on the Hill, the D.C. statehood bill has attracted 65 cosponsors in the House and 11 in the Senate.
I am a native of D.C.'s Ward 8. I graduated from Morehouse College, where I was a member of Omega Psi Phi, with a bachelor's in political science. I have a law degree from U.C. Berkeley, and I studied public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
I am passionate about D.C. citizenship rights, to be sure. More generally, however, I believe in inclusive, representative government that emphasizes social and economic mobility. Income inequality is rampant in Washington, D.C., and it perpetuates itself through generations. I want to create pathways so all District residents have the opportunity to thrive, regardless of the economic situation they were born into.
Why am I running?
I grew up in Washington, D.C., and saw first-hand the effects of D.C.'s disenfranchisement on this majority-black city, where voter suppression for black people had been long-standing. D.C. only gained the right to vote for President in 1964, and still has no voting representation in the federal legislature, and only limited control over local electoral decision-making. Congress routinely interferes with D.C.'s local budgetary decisions, invoking federal authority to prohibit my city from spending locally-raised tax dollars on programs like needle exchanges, D.C. statehood advocacy, or abortions for low income women.
If elected to the D.C. Council, I would push to fund advocacy for D.C. statehood. We need professionals and we need full-time staff working to make statehood a reality.
I am also running to better reflect the democratic will of D.C. voters. The incumbent voted to overturn the D.C. electorate's decision to choose its own attorney general. The incumbent voted to accommodate WalMart's demands for lower wages. These votes do not reflect what D.C. voters want. If elected to the Council, I would vote in favor of bills to expand democratic rights for citizens, and against bills that effectively subsidize highly profitable, multinational businesses with questionable labor practices.
Finally, I am running to give back to the community that raised me. I was raised by a single mom in D.C.'s Ward 8. I am intimately familiar with the economic and racial inequities threatening the city's long-term sustainability. I also believe we have the power to lessen these disparities by investing in simple, but crucial, social supports like child care, healthcare, education, affordable housing, and transportation subsidies.
My three policy goals are to:
1. Strengthen and broaden access to education
*Vocational and tech training in high schools and for adults
*Community-based approach to supporting schools, with an emphasis on families
*College subsidies and readiness programs for D.C. students
*Entrepreneurship as a co-curricular training option for high school students
*Tech trainings for senior citizens
*Invest in extra-curricular activities and athletics for students
2. Create a more equitable economy
*Subsidize childcare, expand universal pre-k program to include two-year-olds
*Subsidize public transportation costs
*Invest in range of educational programs that lead to high-paying jobs
*Ban the box on job applications so returning citizens are able to find employment
*Establish a living wage, tied to inflation and cost of living increases
*Invest in housing-first programs for homeless residents
*Expand subsidies for housing vouchers
*Require inclusionary zoning in new commercial developments
*Support sick leave for all workers, including tipped workers
*Retirement account trainings and counseling for D.C. residents
3. Prioritize democratic governance
*Public financing for city elections
*Funding D.C. statehood advocacy
In terms of experience, I am committed to full democracy and civil rights advocacy for D.C. residents in my position as Shadow Rep. Where education is concerned - I was raised in D.C., and how teach law at the University of the District of Columbia. I am familiar with various facets of our city's education system. I believe quality education is a right all District residents should be afforded, regardless of age or ability to pay. Regarding economic development, I run a business that raises venture capital for black entrepreneurs, who disproportionately cite lack of available financing as an obstacle to starting a business.
My DFA Values
I believe in policy that will make D.C. a more equitable, democratic place. We must subsidize the financial well-being of District residents - through expanded childcare, transportation, and housing supports - so that so many of us are not regularly struggling to pay for basic needs. Countries with stronger social supports experience lower income inequality. With one of the highest rates of inequality in the country, D.C.'s social services are clearly not adequate; we need to strengthen them.
Indeed, the fate of our community depends on a government that represents its interests. We have come to view education and childcare as private expenses, rather than public goods, like roads and bridges. By investing more in human capital, in addition to physical infrastructure, we can create a more community-driven, less unequal, Washington, D.C.
D.C. needs the right to vote. Currently, it has no voting representation in the federal legislature. Even our local laws and tax dollars are subject to oversight and overrule by members of the U.S. Congress. D.C. residents will never have liberty without the same citizenship rights as other Americans - through statehood. I have worked passionately, and successfully, to get statehood legislation before Congress for the first time in 20 years. We have a historic opportunity to get DC statehood enacted into law, if we focus. I am focused on statehood.
My Campaign is People Powered!
Though my title is technically "U.S. Representative to Congress," that I was elected from D.C. means I can't vote, receive a salary, enter the House floor, work out in the Congressional gym, or eat in the Congressional cafeteria. But I have still met with over 100 Congressional offices to get their support for the D.C. statehood bill. And I have organized dozens of volunteers to help me along the way.
I have organized veterans groups, grassroots statehood supporters, students, and volunteers from across the city to meet with Congressional staff and advocate for D.C. statehood. All of efforts have been unpaid, but we have had greater success on the Hill than any statehood campaign since 1993. We have more than 70 cosponsors for our bill today, and we intend to keep fighting.
My campaign is also made up of volunteers - grassroots activists in their own rights who share a vision of a more equitable Washington, D.C. My team includes progressive leaders working on advocacy related to LGBTQ rights, black empowerment, DC statehood, rights of returning citizens, low-income youth in D.C., and ethical governance.
Together, we work with progressive organizations, and interested citizens, throughout D.C. to build a divers coalition progressives interested in strengthening civil rights and democracy in our disenfranchised nation's capital.