Brooke Pinto on the Insurrection and the Council’s 2021 Priorities

At the start of the new year, the District Council gained its first female majority since the late 1990s and its first African American majority since 2012. With the elections of Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4) and Christina Henderson (I-At-Large), many political analysts see the city’s 13-member legislative body shifting left.

After winning the special election to fill the seat vacated by Jack Evans, Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2) — the first woman ever to hold the seat and, now 28, the youngest Council member in history — won a full term with 70 percent of the vote.

Pinto spoke with The Georgetowner about the violent insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and about her 2021 priorities for the District and for Georgetown.

“The attack on the Capitol on Wednesday was an abomination to our democracy,” she said, pointing out that when the Capitol Police were “unsuccessful in dispersing the mob,” the Metropolitan Police Department “responded right away and helped get everybody out of there and to enforce the mayor’s curfew.” She added: “We will be supporting the efforts by the mayor’s office and the attorney general to get to the bottom of that breach.”

While Pinto holds President Trump accountable for the violence, she argues that, without D.C. statehood, city residents might see more failed security responses in the future. “I think it’s really a reminder of how important D.C. statehood is,” she said, “because we didn’t have control over our own National Guard, so we had to rely on the president to send additional troops and the Department of Defense didn’t respond to [the city’s] request for hours. That really could have kept our people safe. And five people died as a result of those attacks. So it’s a really stark and practical example of why statehood really matters to keeping us all safe.”

As the District embarks on pandemic recovery, Pinto is looking forward to working with her new colleagues on the Council. Calling Henderson and Lewis George “extremely bright, passionate and well-reasoned people,” she said, “I am so thrilled about the new women-majority Council.”

“A lot of legislation you will see this term will be focused on recovery: recovery for small businesses, our workers, on making sure our schools reopen and that our vaccine distribution goes according to plan,” she said. “Something you can look for in terms of the difference with a women-majority Council is the process by which women engage in consideration of legislation. I think women tend to be very collaborative, thorough, transparent and compassionate about our processes. And that can be something to look forward to.”

Pinto is prioritizing not only pandemic recovery, but support for struggling sectors of the economy. “I am very confident that once our city is vaccinated and we achieve herd immunity, people will naturally be very enthusiastic to go out, to shop, to eat, dine, drink and support our local small business community,” she said. “But it’s really important that we provide them the resources and support they’ll need during this interim period.” To assist small businesses, she will continue to seek grants, regulatory relief and easing of licensing burdens to “ensure they can survive.”

Another priority is helping out the unsheltered: “There’s so much need right now in the city, especially as we’re now into the colder months, dealing with the winter and ensuring our community members have the resources they need and moving as many of them as we can into housing as soon as possible.” She also plans to boost initiatives for afterschool care, drug intervention and interagency coordination.

Pinto said she will continue to fight for sensible reforms in policing, supporting legislation calling for body-worn cameras and independent investigations of police incidents. “As we’re talking about public safety,” she added, “we need to be very deliberate and sure that we’re supporting all of our residents, including those who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.”

In the case of Georgetown, Pinto emphasized that public safety, an effective pandemic response and business recovery go hand in hand. “I am really focused on making Georgetown a place where people want to live, work and visit,” she said. “I think it’s really important we focus on our recovery for the office real estate market and to support our small businesses that make our community so special to residents … and to visitors.

“Georgetown is a really beautiful representation of our city. So many tourists coming to D.C. specifically go to visit Georgetown. So it’s in everybody’s best interest to see it really thriving and successful.”

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