DC Mayor Eric Jonathan Sheptock Will Fight Gentrifiers Tooth and Nail

You read the title properly. After having had many people suggest over the years that I run for mayor or for a council seat, I've finally decided to go for it. Since I don't care to argue with a dozen other council members and I prefer to be able to ram policies and bills through so we can actually get things done, I would only run for mayor. Since I began advocating for DC's homeless in mid-June 2006, I've critiqued all four mayors the city has had from my arrival in DC in the summer of 2005 and forward -- Tony Williams (1999-2007), Adrian Fenty (2007-2011), Vince Gray (2011-2015) and Muriel Bowser (2015-2019). It makes sense for any of them to challenge me to do better than them; but, none has done that. Even so, I'll make as though they did and show them how much better I can do as the only anti-gentrification mayor that the city has had since at least as fr back as 1999 when the late Marion Barry left that office.

Who knows??? This may be the moment that God has prepared me for as I endured my various struggles from birth to the present. My biological mother almost killed me several times during my first eight months of life. My adoptive mother -- the only one I've actually called "Mom" since I was able to speak -- turns eighty today. (Yes I called her to wish her a happy birthday) From eight months old until five and a half I had to call my foster mother "Mrs. Racks". (I'm not sure if my mother -- Joanne Sheptock -- realizes that, even though she got me at five years old, she's the only one whom I've ever called "Mom".)

The struggles that are most pertinent to my run for DC mayor have to do with my homelessness and homeless advocacy. In addition to many people asking me to run for office, many of them point out my intelligence and say that I don't need to be homeless. They don't have an appreciation for the amount of time it takes to do what I do as an advocate. (Since May 1st 2017, I've averaged about five hours of sleep per night -- 4.5 last night.) Neither do they seem to understand that, after all these years of advocating, I'd be a fool to walk away from the effort without any sizable and system-wide wins.....regardless of the pay or lack thereof. My run for mayor is about finishing what I started and what I've also invested a lot of time into. Those efforts include demanding that city officials mitigate the effects of gentrification, my putting forth much advice on how to address homelessness and my educating the general public about issues relating to poverty.

I've lived as a homeless person and I've seen much of what gets done by city officials who ostensibly want to end homelessness. I've also noticed what hasn't been done -- like how the current mayor issued a position paper on homelessness during her campaign and neither it nor anything that she has said about homelessness since then makes any reference to the failed 10-year plan to end DC homelessness (2004-2014). Coincidentally, she made addressing homelessness a central part of her platform after eight-year old Relisha Rudd was abducted from the family shelter -- the abductor killing his wife and himself. (Relisha has not been found dead or alive in over three years.) I've noticed how that, even though the city is doing something about homelessness, it's falling farther and farther behind -- and none of these well-paid officials is exhibiting a sense of urgency or redoubling their efforts. Officially declaring my candidacy (which I'll do before November 1st and might accomplish by October 1st) would be a game changer in and of itself, with me having been branded as a strong advocate for affordable housing. Local politicians, government officials, developers, landlords and others who are part of the problem of gentrification would watch to see if I last until the spring and then they'd cringe and begin smarting over my candidacy.

They might try to "off" me, which would make me an affordable housing martyr and guarantee that tens of thousands more join the local fight -- which may be a civil war by then, given what DC's other government is up to. Jesus died for a cause, but not before "turning the tables" on economic injustice and getting into the (mis)leaders of his day with a harsh message. So, I'm not running scared. I'm running for mayor.

Though I previously said "No" to those who've suggested that I run for office, I would always quietly consider what I might do as mayor -- not ever giving so much as a second thought to the idea of running for council. (I hate congressional bickering and governmental impotence too much to let myself become one-thirteenth of a decision.) One of the ideas that I've pondered often is that of running my campaign in such a way as to continually put pressure on greedy capitalists to begin to do better by the poor even before I take office. I want everything I say as a candidate to make the wealthy and the power brokers reconsider their ways and worry about what a Sheptock win means for them. (It helps that the least likely candidate of 23 became president of. These power brokers won't find it so easy to blow me off.) I've also thought about how I might give attendees of my rallies instructions as to what they can do to begin moving things in the right direction even before I take office. Mine would be an end-user (EU) government wherein all of my government's interactions with the media would be full of complete answers about everything that the public has a right to know; and, those detailed answers would eliminate any government jargon so that they can be understood by any constituent of average intelligence -- the "end users" of government services.

I've stated several times over the years that "Only a benevolent dictator can end homelessness and cushion the effects of poverty". (Too many people who are in or connected to government are driven by the "profit motive" and not enough are driven by the "prophet motive" -- that prophet being the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.) I voted for David Catania during his 2014 mayoral run. He has a really harsh mean streak. Though he is not entirely sympathetic to the issue of homelessness, I hoped he'd use his position as mayor to force government to make sense. I envisioned myself being able to relate to him and possibly influence him to do what will truly end homelessness. (As mayor, I'd want him to be my director of the Inter-agency Council on Homelessness -- so that he can be that benevolent dictator that I was hoping for when that position was created by the council in 2013.)

Others who've worked on addressing DC homelessness have expressed similar thoughts and feelings, though they often express it as a need for centralized power. Leslie Steen served as the DC housing czar(ina) for a year and then left because Mayor Fenty didn't give her enough authority to force the directors of the city's various housing agency's to the table. She had no subpoena power. The crafters of the law that governs DC homeless services wrote in a provision that requires the city administrator to hold a leadership position on the ICH. It was because the CA has authority over the various deputy mayors and other upper-level management in DC government. He can force a lot of people to the table, though I don't think they include all of the housing agencies. That said, there are different reasons as to why only a benevolent dictator can significantly decrease or altogether end DC homelessness. The good news here is that I'd focus those dictatorial energies on the government and thereby force it to work well for the people. As a matter of fact, I gained some respect for former mayor Adrian Fenty earlier this year -- though he left office in 2011 -- because someone who's worked in homeless services told me about how he cracked the whip on government to the extent that she (being a social worker) was able to house more people per year during his term than during any of the other 26 years of her career. (I'd love for him to be my city administrator or to swap roles with David Catania.)

If I "play my cards right", my candidacy might even force DC's third party to grow and become more viable and cause folk to consider creating a fourth party -- each of which would help to change the current two-party dynamic that leaves the underprivileged flip-flopping between the two parties that take turns at failing the poor. In a city where one-fifth of the 700,000 residents is on food stamps and less than one-tenth of its 450,000 registered voters got our current mayor into office, my candidacy would give at least three times the number who voted for Mayor Muriel Bowser a reason to vote in the June 2018 Democratic primary -- DC's de facto election. My candidacy would cause the topic of affordable housing to gain greater significance in the mayoral race and it would force real and full answers. I've even thought about what I can do right now today to force the hard conversations. I'm doing it. This blog post is one such manifestation. I'd frame the issues before the debates even begin -- yea, even before the campaign season begins. (The name I've made for myself helps greatly in this respect.) That way, the other candidates end up needing to respond to the facts that I threw out in various speeches and writings which the public can easily fact check .

I'm sure that there will be gentrifiers who "capitalize" on how I promote centralized power, benevolent dictatorship and cracking the whip on government. The short and easy reply that you can give them is that, had DC Government succeeded at its 10-year plan by the end of 2014 or Mayor Bowser devised a better plan, then there wouldn't be a need for a benevolent dictator. All DC residents -- including Eric Sheptock -- would be housed within 90 days of losing their homes.

I could type 10 times as much as I have thus far in this blog post and still not express all of the thought that I've put into a possible run for mayor. So, I won't belabor the topic much longer on this go-'round. I'll close out by reiterating that I want to put pressure on DC's wealthy and power brokers from Day 1 of my candidacy and that I hope to become the benevolent dictator that DC's poor need to act on their behalf. Pray that I win and be sure to vote.


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