Hello District Neighbors,
My term as attorney general is rapidly coming to a close—but before it does, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you for putting your trust in me and for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your Attorney General for the past eight years.
When I took office in 2015 as DC’s first elected attorney general, I vowed to fulfill the statutory mandate that the Office of Attorney General be independent, use the law in the public interest, represent the District zealously in court, and defend DC values.
Perhaps the most significant change that came with becoming an independent office is the opportunity to creatively use the law to stand up for vulnerable residents. With your trust and the able and energetic assistance of my colleagues, I’ve done this in several areas over the last eight years.
For example, let’s take a look at affordable housing. DC has witnessed significant growth, pushing out and pricing out long-term residents—including Black and brown, senior, and low-income residents—resulting in some of the highest levels of displacement of any city in the country. During my tenure, we have been laser-focused on combatting this displacement. We’ve filed lawsuits against bad actors who sought to push out long-term residents to turn a profit and stood up for fairness in our city’s zoning and land use decisions. Not only have we achieved positive results, we’ve also expanded into new frontiers that can serve as a model for preserving and increasing affordable housing.
And as the chief prosecutor of crimes committed by children, I’ve sought to address the root causes of crime—such as trauma, poverty, familial instability, and lack of education and economic opportunity—so kids are less likely to reoffend, which approves public safety. We have innovated and reformed the juvenile justice system to reduce recidivism, empower victims, and help stop crime before it happens, including through our restorative justice and truancy-prevention efforts.
We’ve also used the law affirmatively to advance and defend DC values by aggressively expanding our work on behalf of consumers, seniors, tenants, and workers. Whether protecting the environment, the right to vote, immigrant rights, or reproductive rights, I have sought to build the most effective and respected Office of Attorney General in the country—all while regularly providing the Council, the Mayor, and DC agencies with legal advice; defending District agencies in Court; and saving or recovering billions of tax dollars.
Read about all of this work, and much more in a new report, Breaking Ground, that my office just released.
Key to achieving these successes on behalf of DC residents has been our office’s ability to operate independently, but this independence is fragile. And so—just as I have done—I would implore future attorneys general to fiercely defend any attempts to undermine that independence.
More than anything, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the residents of the District of Columbia. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to work on your behalf—alongside my exceptional colleagues—to make the District a more fair, just, and safe city.
On January 2, Brian Schwalb will be sworn in as DC’s next attorney general. I know residents have a fierce advocate in Brian, and I look forward to seeing his work—and my colleague’s continued work—to keep fighting these righteous fights.
From the bottom of my heart: thank you.