February 13, 2014 •
Whether Washington, D.C. voters will have the chance to elect an attorney general this year remains a hot topic on the D.C. Council floor. Currently, the attorney general is appointed by the mayor. In 2010, voters approved a charter amendment […]
Whether Washington, D.C. voters will have the chance to elect an attorney general this year remains a hot topic on the D.C. Council floor. Currently, the attorney general is appointed by the mayor. In 2010, voters approved a charter amendment authorizing the first election of the city’s attorney general and setting a primary election for April of this year.
In late 2013, the council passed a law delaying the election from 2014 to 2018, fearing the city lacked the necessary preparation. Paul Zukerberg, the only candidate for the city’s first attorney general race, challenged the 2013 law in the District of Columbia Superior Court. Judge Laura Cordero denied Zukerberg’s motion for a preliminary injunction, stating that he would not suffer irreparable harm from the delay and therefore did not meet the standard to grant the injunction.
Upon the judge’s ruling, the council acted quickly to introduce a bill scheduling an election for attorney general in November 2014. The bill has sparked heated debate, both on the floor of the council and with current Attorney General Irvin Nathan. Nathan criticized the bill, stating it does not comport with the city charter. The bill would put the attorney general office on the November ballot without allowing for a primary election, thus circumventing the requirement of an election on a partisan basis as required by the 2010 charter amendment.
If the new bill passes the council, the possibility of a mayoral veto is likely, based on Nathan’s opposition to the measure. However, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson still plans to move the bill to passage, likely bringing it to a final vote in the next month.
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