The Dec. 20 editorial “A new rush to judgment,” about the timing of the D.C. attorney general election, made some sensible points. The bill sponsored by D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) to push the election to November is also sensible. But both ignore a critical fact: The voters of the District already spoke. By a margin of 76 percent to 24 percent , they said they wanted an elected attorney general “in 2014,” as they were promised on the ballot. And the voters amended the D.C. Charter to say so.
Thus, the matter is not up for debate. The council is supposed to respect the people and hold the vote the people demanded. This is not a negotiation, and the correct course of action is not about the one candidate who has declared so far (Paul Zukerberg). This is about respect for democracy.
When do D.C. voters get respect? Look at it this way: The voters overwhelmingly said they wanted term limits for the council. The council ignored the voters.
The voters overwhelmingly said they wanted an independently elected attorney general to act as a check on the council, starting in 2014. The council has responded by trying to kill, delay or limit such an attorney general’s power.
So the council emerges without term limits and with no check on its power.
How nice for the council. How unfortunate for the people of the District and what semblance of democracy we are permitted here.
Gary Thompson, Washington
The writer is a member of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4G and a lawyer representing Paul Zukerberg in his lawsuit challenging the D.C. Council’s decision to postpone the election of a D.C. attorney general.
The Post says the D.C. Council should not “rush to judgment” regarding how and when to elect an attorney general but should “take its time” to get the election right. This ignores two critical facts.
First, the people already decided how and when that election should occur. They overwhelmingly ratified a charter amendment in a referendum, requiring election of the attorney general in 2014. As the council’s own general counsel determined, the council has no authority to override a charter amendment.
Second, the referendum occurred more than three years ago — in November 2010. It is hardly a “rush to judgment” to ask that the council faithfully implement the charter amendment.
Unfortunately, considering that the council voted 7 to 6 in October to postpone the election until 2018, and that nominating petitions for the April primary are due Jan. 2, it is now essentially too late to give potential candidates time to run in that election.
However, it is not too late to pass legislation requiring a November 2014 election and permitting candidates to run as partisans, which council member Mary Cheh’s bill would do.
This is not a perfect solution. But it is the best solution now available to keep faith with the voters.
Walter Smith, Washington
The writer is the executive director of the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.