A Race to Watch

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By C.N. Staff Writer

The race for the District’s Attorney General will officially be on the ballot on November 4th, during the general election for mayor, thanks to candidate and criminal lawyer Paul Zuckerburg. In 2010 the citizens of the District overwhelmingly voted that the attorney general should be an elected position. However the City Council decided not to move forward with the measure and voted to delay the elected position until 2018.

Then came a city lawsuit brought by Paul Zuckerburg, which a D.C. Court of Appeals found that the City’s Council acted illegally. The Court said, It follows from our holding that an election must be held in 2014 unless it would not be practically possible for [the D.C. Board of Elections] to do so under the applicable statutory and regulatory provisions.” Thus, the election was slated to be held “after January 1, 2014” according to the court order. Zuckerburg, who filed the lawsuit against the council and the Board of Elections said the council’s delay “shows a tremendous disrespect for the voters” who voted for the position via a 2010 ballot question. The council argued that their reason for pushing the election back was to determine the roles and responsibilities of the role.

Before the lawsuit the city’s attorney general position had been an appointment by the mayor. His or her duties would include oversight in the city’s litigation. Under city law, the attorney general must have been “actively engaged . . . in the practice of law” in the District for at least five of the prior 10 years unless employed as a judge, law professor, or federal or D.C. government employee.

There are five candidates in the race (including Zuckerburg) who believe they are the best choice. Zuckerburg, 56, is an Adams Morgan lawyer who has been infamous for defending marijuana offenses and has defended its legalization. Edward “Smitty” Smith, 34, is a former federal lawyer who worked on Obama’s campaign said he is running because he wants to work on efficiency and establishing an autonomy task force. Smith is a native Washingtonian and said the District’s voting rights are personal for him. Paul Racine, 51, is a former deputy White House counsel and is currently a managing partner of the Venable firm. Lorie Masters, 59, is one of two females in the race with a background in litigation. She has said she wants the office to focus on government transparency and will also fight for the District’s voting rights. Lateefah Williams, 37, is a Georgetown Law School graduate who said she would focus on the constituency base in the District.

If you want to learn more about the candidates, you can hear them debate their platforms in Ward 8 at Old Congress Heights School on October 20, 2014 at 6:30pm.

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