The D.C. Council has a big problem on its hands. Their decision earlier this year to ignore the decision of District voters on Initiative 77 is not going away. In fact, proponents of a referendum to overturn the Council’s repeal say they are close to gathering the required 25,000 signatures to put the referendum back on the next ballot. But the short deadline, Wednesday, probably won’t allow those who support the voter-approved measure that phases out the tipped wage paid to service workers, to secure the needed signatures.
Still, it’s telling that some 200 paid and volunteer petition circulators have been swarming the city on behalf of the Save Our Vote initiative. Some argue that funds to pay for the drive have come from out of state and that outsiders should, basically, “stay in their lane.” Even if enough signatures are secured, those signatures face the ominous task of being validated. Then, according to D.C. law, the signatures have to come from all over the city, all eight wards (5 percent of voters in at least five of the city’s wards).
If the signatures are verified, the D.C. Board of Elections would have to call for a special election to take place within 114 days, placing “Referendum 8” on a ballot in a March or early April 2019 election.
However, when the smoke clears, there’s a more significant issue on the table. What concerns us most is the fact that the voters made their decision. They chose to approve Initiative 77. They thought it out and voted accordingly. And while the Council and mayor may see things differently, they are elected to serve the people, right? Why then, should the Council feel compelled to override the decision of the voters? Aren’t the adults who are registered to vote smart enough to make their own choices?
It’s a slippery slope when elected officials begin to presume that they know better than their constituents. We may not support Initiative 77, but we support the decision that the voters have made. And we believe the D.C. Council, should have, and should, do likewise.