The Obama administration attracted many enthusiastic new residents to the District of Columbia with its sense of hope and air of progress. The election of Donald Trump signified a change in political tides that shocked the nation into a new state of reality. The response to this drastic swing of the pendulum came in a resurgence to local politics. As Democratic candidates began to speak up and stand out, another exciting phenomenon has started to take place, a strong millennial presence in the form of bright young candidates, eager to make a difference.
From City Council to the Democratic State Committee, millennial candidates have taken D.C. by storm. Accounting for roughly twenty percent of the district’s registered voters, residents ranging from ages 18-34 have the power to make serious political waves. Yet a dismal three percent of this population is likely to vote. This could be due to the lack of representation experienced in previous years, misinformation about the issues or a poor understanding of D.C.’s local government altogether. No matter the case, as the millennial population continues to grow, the importance of being informed is paramount. Here are a few of the issues impacting the quality of life for many young Washingtonians.
A term heard often around the city. affordable housing has been on the lips of D.C. residents for the past several years. Many think the conversation ends with affordable rental units, indeed a major issue but the discussion continues well beyond. As gentrification spreads to the furthest edges of the City. property taxes are on the rise: making it difficult for longtime homeowners to stay in their communities. Those looking to become new homeowners are finding themselves priced out of the city. Even with first-time buyer programs in place. the process to qualify can be long and the income caps exclude many at the early stages of their prime earning years.
Raising the Minimum Wage
In 2016. Mayor Bowser signed the Fair Shot Minimum Wage Amendment to raise the minimum wage from $11.50 at the time to $15.00 by the year 2020. giving the city one of the highest minimum wages in the country. After 2020, the minimum wage will adjust to match the city’s cost of living. The amendment also made provisions for tipped workers to make $5.00 an hour by 2020. the current rate is $3.33. June 19’s primary will give residents the opportunity to vote on whether or not restaurants must pay a minimum wage to workers currently operating under a base pay plus tip structure, The strongest opposition comes from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. Citing pay cuts and job loss as a result of the law.
Another hot topic, for young couples and families, is education. Recent scandals with D.C. Public School system have shined an even brighter light on what some would call a broken system. In terms of access. residents have the option of sending their children to participating public Charter schools. DCPS selective high schools and DCPS schools outside of their neighborhood boundaries and feeder programs all by way of a lottery system. Which goes to show. If nothing else. that all public schools within the district are not created equal. As families begin to plan for the future. some have opted out altogether. Choosing to go either private or moving to suburban communities with stronger public schools systems. Other issues like public safety, prison reform and care for the aging are also noteworthy and affect the less glamorous aspects of city living. Using several sources to stay informed is the best way to have a full picture of D.C.’s political climate. The June 19 primary will set major changes into motion. Be informed about who and what you are voting for.