August is usually a sleepy time in D.C. In addition to school being out and everyone taking one last chance to hit the beach, the District Council goes on a legislative recess from July 15 to Sept. 15 every year. Normally there isn’t much happening in the D.C. government as a result, but that’s not the case this year.
Police Chief Cathy Lanier, DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and Council Member At-Large Vincent Orange have all either stepped down or announced plans to do so in the coming month.
Cathy Lanier started with the Metropolitan Police Department in 1990 and has served as chief since 2007. In that time, she’s made D.C. safer, the police force stronger and the relationship between the department and the community one of the best in the entire country. That she would be tapped by the National Football League as the league’s next senior vice president of security, while unexpected, isn’t shocking. She’s been one of the best police chiefs in the country and kept the nation’s capital safe for nearly a decade.
Her interim replacement, Assistant Chief Peter Newsham, is a supremely talented law enforcement official and longtime leader in improving safety in our city. I look forward to working collaboratively with Chief Newsham, who served as commander of the 2nd District (which includes Georgetown) from 2000 to 2002.
Kaya Henderson has been at the forefront of reforming our school system for a decade, first as deputy chancellor and since 2010 as chancellor. She and I have tussled over the years about proposed closures to Francis-Stevens and Garrison Elementary and renovation delays at Hyde-Addison and other schools, but in total Henderson has been a strong leader in rebuilding our public school system and the trust of residents in the schools’ continued improvement.
I’ve known Vincent Orange for more than 25 years, ever since I was an ANC commissioner in Dupont Circle and he was running for Council chairman against former Ward 2 Council Member John Wilson. He didn’t win that election, but he continued to be involved with District politics, eventually getting the Ward 5 Council seat in 1998. Since then, Orange has been a champion for economic development and promoting the local history of Washington. Across 13 years as colleagues on the Council, he and I haven’t always been on the same side of every issue, but he’s been a passionate advocate for residents and for the revitalization of the District.
Together, these three individuals have more than 25 years of combined service in these senior roles. And while each has dealt with adversity or public criticism, they will take with them an enormous amount of institutional knowledge of how we’ve been able to navigate the struggles the city has undergone. They’ve all given the District of Columbia exemplary service, and while the District continues to move onward and upward, they will certainly be missed.