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Ward 4 Council

Ward 4's Council Member is Janeese Lewis George, a third generation Washingtonian and native of Ward 4.

 

Janeese Lewis George was elected to Council in 2020 - a time ripe with change, tension, and uncertainty in DC and across the country. The coalitions that pushed to get her elected in 2019 have different needs than her neighbors are now demanding for her to address. Key issues include: history of violence, police interventions, social housing, gentrification, and public safety.

 

Her office spends most of their days with the residents of Ward 4 striving to understand and address their needs. Unable to make everyone happy, they strive for a middle ground by flooding resources into areas that need it while working to prevent situations that might get out of control.

"There's continual conflict between residents here and new gnetifers. Some things of gentrification could actually help the people that live here, and some things that people who live here want could actually slow gentrification."

Jim Lewis, constituent services coordinator, spoke with me about the history of gentrification tensions in Ward 4.  He shared that the evidence of DC's majority black history is strong in Ward 4, rattling off what each neighborhood in the ward was known for. Many of the seniors living in Ward 4 come from families of long time residents of DC, and many have great grandparents that came to DC from the south during the great migration, during the worst times of anti black racism. So, there's fear about what gentrification will bring. There's anger about the affects of gentrification, like bike lanes making it impossible to park in front of their church. But there's possibility too, like what dense public transit accessibility could do for fair housing development.

Public safety is a key issue for Ward 4's  council, but residents have opposing opinions on how to improve their livability with safety.

People look to our office to do something. We respond when there’s a shooting, go and talk to MPD, and follow up with neighbors if they're affected in some way.

Ward 4's Council Member team came into their position in 2020 during some of the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic and at the height of racial reckoning following George Floyd's murder. Just two weeks before being  elected into office in November 2020, two DC Police officers were indicted in the death of a 20-year-old Ward 4 resident who was killed in a crash following a police chase (watch a 4 min clip on the events and proceedings here). 

The team came in with a reform mindset, ready to engage with the public on their role in upholding public safety. But tensions between local council and Metropolitan Police Department and the Mayor's office have made addressing public safety something of a 'hot potato.' 

As the long-time downward trend in violence spikes up for the first time in Ward 4 since the 1990s, creating new legislative policies, enacting oversight, and clarifying for residents what is (and is not) in the hands of the council member has become a top priority. This includes seeking a significant increase in funding for violence prevention programs and services that reduce crime by improving the health, education, and economic opportunity for residents. But, this kind of reform takes time and is not always visible, leaving many constituents wondering 'what are they doing about the violence in my neighborhood?'

Janeese Lewis George is taking a holistic approach to improving the livability of Ward 4. Read about all twelve of her legislative priorities:

  1. Addressing COVID-19 with Urgency and Equity 

  2. Preserving and Expanding Affordable Housing

  3. Promoting Community Safety and Crime Reduction

  4. Ensuring Quality Education and Child Care for All  

  5. Investing in Good Jobs and an Inclusive Economy 

  6. Advancing Healthcare for All 

  7. Supporting Our Seniors 

  8. Sustaining Critical Investments in Transportation and Safe Streets  

  9. Strengthening Social Services

  10. Addressing Environmental Racism and Climate Change 

  11. Strengthening Government Accountability and Ethics 

  12. Fighting for DC Statehood

What's next?

How might we enable a holistic approach to one issue plaguing a city to transform the livability components of others? How might we make visible the changes that benefit all?

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