Dr. Adeoye “Oye” Owolewa, who represents Advisory Neighborhood Commission single-member district 8E01, wants to take his passion for D.C. statehood to the next level.
Owolewa, a pharmacist, said he wants to replace Franklin Garcia as the shadow representative this year to help the statehood movement go forward.
“I believe it is a critical time for the statehood movement,” he said. “I think D.C. is very close to being a state.”
District voters elect one shadow representative and two shadow senators to lobby Congress on D.C. becoming the 51st state. The District is officially represented in the Congress by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who has no final vote on the House floor.
The District has no representation in the U.S. Senate.
Norton has a bill — The Washington, D.C. Admission Act of 2019 — that would make the District a state. The bill has 224 co-sponsors, enough to pass the House chamber. In the Senate, there are 35 supporters for a companion bill authored by Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.).
Owolewa said the congressional momentum favors the District becoming a state and a “perfect storm” of a Democratic Senate and White House, with the party retaining control of the House in the 2020 elections, could make the District a state within a couple of years. He said if the “perfect storm” happens, he will push Democrats to put statehood at the top of their agenda.
“The Democrats have to be accountable to us” he said. “In 2008, we had a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress but we were not prepared and therefore put on the back burner. We have come a long way since then and we need to seize the opportunity when it presents itself.”
Owolewa has served as a commissioner since 2019, his first elected office. The Boston native plans to be on the June 2 Democratic Party ballot for the shadow representative position.
He said if he is unsuccessful in the primary, he will run for reelection as a commissioner in the Nov. 3 general election.
Owolewa said regardless of the result of the shadow representative campaign, his activism in Ward 8 will continue.
“The future of Ward 8 excites me,” he said. “I want to bring together the newbies and the long-established residents. Even though I hope to be the shadow representative, I won’t abandon my passion for Ward 8.”
Democratic State Leaders Endorse D.C. Statehood
The Association of State Democratic Committees (ASDC), an organization comprised of party chairs and vice chairs of the U.S. states and territories, on Dec. 13 passed a historic resolution in favor of making the District a state.
The resolution, submitted by D.C. Democratic State Committee Chairman Charles Wilson, affirms that statehood has been endorsed by each Democratic state party organization.
Wilson praised the organization’s action.
“The passage of this resolution is an enormous win in our ongoing fight for statehood,” Wilson said. “Having the approval and support of our nation’s state Democratic Party organizations will be critical in our grassroots movement to make the District of Columbia the 51st state.
“I would like to thank ASDC President Ken Martin for holding a vote on this crucial resolution and seeing it through to passage,” he said. “With the support of our Democratic state-level organization, we know it is only a matter of time before full voting rights are granted to the residents of the nation’s capital.”
D.C. Democratic State Committee Vice Chairman Linda Gray agreed with Wilson.
“The leaders of the Democratic Party in all 50 states will enhance our efforts for full representation with their congressional representatives,” Gray said. “The support from our colleagues across the nation is greatly appreciated.”