Growing up in the de-industrializing Midwest, everyone lived with anxiety about the future. Layoffs happened constantly and jobs didn’t come back. A lot of people around me struggled, but they taught me that fighting back, even against all odds, is a form of dignity. So when I got older I joined the fight, becoming a Legal Aid attorney to defend people against eviction. At the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, I found that same fighting spirit and relentless dignity in the tenant associations I represented in DC.
When the Congress Heights case began, I saw right away that a small group of people were not going to be pushed around by a powerful developer. I was in complete solidarity with them for the entire ugly fight. We fought in the streets, in the courts, at the Zoning Commission, and in the press. Ten families endured horrific living conditions for years. It took seven years to convince elected officials to side with tenants instead of their politically-connected developer.
Hundreds of cases like Congress Heights are happening all over the District. If we’re going to win these fights, we need to win elections. The government shouldn’t be on the side of developers or union breakers, and advocates and elected leaders shouldn’t be compromising for them. We need leaders who will fight tooth-and-nail to ensure that public money and public power are used for the public good. I hope you’ll vote for me for DC Council At-Large on November 3rd.