D.C. Political Roundup: Cheh's AG Elections Bill Takes Center Stage

James Wright | 6/25/2014, 3 p.m.
A bill authored by D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), the "Attorney General Partisan Election Implementation Act," may be ...
Ward 3 D.C. council member Mary Cheh (Courtesy photo)

A bill authored by D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), the "Attorney General Partisan Election Implementation Act," may be key to the election of the District's first attorney general in November.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals, in the case of Zuckerberg vs. D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, reversed a decision by the D.C. Superior Court on June 4 that would have allowed a D.C. Council action to postpone the 2014 election of the District’s attorney general to 2018. The appeals court mandated that the attorney general election take place either this year or early next year. At this point, Cheh’s legislation becomes crucial as it pertains to the court.

"Given the ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals, the way forward in getting the District in the position to elect an attorney general in the November election is for the council to pass the legislation I introduced," said Cheh, 63. "The bill has already had a public hearing, and in the interest of complying with the order of the Court of Appeals, I urge the council to move expeditiously in passing this legislation."

Cheh's bill would allow candidates for the attorney general to have their party preference appear on the ballot in conjunction with their name. Attorneys that work for the District government can also run for the position. Paul Zuckerberg, a criminal defense attorney who acted as the plaintiff for the successful law suit before the appeals court, has filed papers with the D.C. Board of Elections for the position along with prominent defense attorney Mark Tuohey.

Right now, Cheh's bill is on the docket of the D.C. Council's Committee of the Whole and whether it comes up for consideration at the next legislative meeting, Monday, July 14, remains to be seen. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) chairs the Committee of the Whole and worked closely with Cheh on the details of her bill.

Cheh, who has voiced reservations about a 2014 attorney general election in the past, wants the electoral process to move forward.

"When my bill comes up, I hope my colleagues vote for it," she said.

Ward 8 Board of Education Race Moves Slowly

The race for the Ward 8 D.C. State Board of Education remains a low-key affair even though the special election is less than a month away.

On Tuesday, July 15, voters in the ward will replace Trayon White, who resigned in March, to accept a position with the District government. The two candidates to replace White are educator Tierra Jolly and veteran political and civic activist Philip Pannell. Darrell Gaston, an ANC Commissioner for 8B02, unexpectedly withdrew from the race on Monday, June 23 citing personal reasons.

Early voting for the race takes place beginning Tuesday, June 30 to Saturday, July 5 at the D.C. Board of Elections office at One Judiciary Square in Northwest and at Malcolm X Elementary School in Southeast beginning Saturday, July 5 to Saturday, July 12.

Residents can also cast their ballots at their voting precincts starting at 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

It would appear that there are no candidate forums scheduled and that concerns some residents and candidates.

"I am not aware of any forums," said Pannell, 63.

Ward 8 Democrats President Natalie Williams said that her organization hasn’t planned a forum but it isn’t out of the question.

"We have been focusing on getting out the vote effort for the mayor's race," said Williams, 43."But a candidates' forum for the board of education race is something to consider even though we have a short window to do it."

Charles Wilson, the president of the Historic Anacostia Block Association and a commissioner for 8A04, said he’s not surprised.

"Normally, it is Philip Pannell who would organize one," Wilson, 38, quipped.