Washington CITY Paper’s Ward 2 Primary Election Voter Guide

Washington CITY Paper’s Ward 2 Primary Election Voter Guide

The Washington City Paper created a voter guide for the Ward 2 primary election. Below is their coverage of Brooke. Click here for the full guide.

Brooke Pinto

Age: 28 

Neighborhood of residence: Logan Circle 

Hometown: Greenwich, Conn. 

What’s your new quarantine hobby? Or what are you binge watching during quarantine?

I wish I had a more fun answer for you. I have been calling voters mostly—all day and all night. I’ve heard of a lot of great shows that I look forward to watching one day in the future. 

EDUCATION

What will you do to combat education inequality across the District, particularly given the setbacks students experienced this year?

I’m concerned about making sure all of our teachers have the training necessary to provide distance learning, particularly since most health experts predict a second wave of this virus in the fall or winter. We need to make sure that teachers across the city have the requisite training to provide meaningful distance learning.

We also need to have greater focus on our run-down vacant buildings that need to be updated to fit the needs of our current students and not fall into disrepair. I was really discouraged to see the mayor, in her original budget, had pledged to increase education spending by 4 percent, but now with everything going on, she reduced that to 3 percent. Education is one area where funding needs to be increased, especially now. Age 3 through 17, if you fall behind one year, that can affect you for the rest of your life. 

Should the mayor maintain control of DCPS?

Yes, but shifting mayoral control is not among my first list of priorities.

CRIME

Mayor Muriel Bowser supported federal prosecutors’ shift to charging some gun crimes in federal court, rather than in D.C. Superior Court, as a tactic to combat gun violence. Attorney General Karl Racine recently argued the practice perpetuates racial disparities and suggested there is no evidence that it reduces crime. Do you support the practice? Explain your answer. 

As a city, we need to be moving toward a model of more local control over our criminal justice system, not less. We have very strict gun control laws here, we should be empowered as a city to have our elected prosecutors bringing those charges.

We’ve seen a lot of great success with our restorative justice program wherein victims of crimes can opt in to a restorative justice model, when perpetrator and victim come together for a targeted mediation to address not just the punishment of the crime, but why it happened in the first place, and to show a human face of that trauma to the perpetrator. We’ve found there’s great success when the person who committed a crime understands how deeply they have affected and traumatized the victim. That program needs to be expanded so we can handle our crime and our residents within our own borders.

Explain how you would address gun violence.

We need more lighting on our streets. We need more cameras in our public spaces. And in the longer term, I want to expand the “cure the streets” model that’s carried out through OAG and the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement.

Some believe greater police presence will lead to less crime. Others fear more officers will lead to more harassment of black and brown people. Should D.C. increase or decrease the size of its police force? Explain your answer.

We have a community trust problem in our city, when many members of our community have been traumatized by police officers through stop and frisk and other violatory practices.

There’s a lot more work we need to do to build community trust and make sure our police department has clear rules on what is and is not acceptable behavior. I want to make sure we’re building up community trust and listening to the needs of each neighborhood, as opposed to applying a one-size-fits-all increase or reduction. 

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION 

Oslo, Norway, eliminated pedestrian and cyclist deaths in 2019 with the help of Vision Zero initiatives. Those include replacing on-street parking with bike lanes, congestion pricing fees in the city center, and lowering the speed limit. Do you support any of these initiatives? Describe your vision for eliminating pedestrian and cyclist deaths.

What they’ve done in Oslo is impressive and is worth aspiring to. Linda Bailey and the District Department of Transportation have done a great job with Vision Zero in D.C. But we need more connected and truly protected bike lanes. I don’t think we are in a place like Oslo, where we can eliminate all of our parking spaces. Many of our residents and small business owners still drive and need access to residential and commercial parking. I want to be careful that we’re not applying a one-size-fits-all approach and saying we’re eliminating all of our parking spaces for this really important goal of reducing or eliminating cyclist deaths. 

HOUSING

Do you support eliminating single-family zoning, as other cities have done in order to increase housing density?

This is another area that depends on the neighborhood. There are certain neighborhoods where I’m in favor of eliminating single-family housing and increasing density.

I think the social housing options that have been proposed in other countries like Denmark is the future of our city to have true mixed-income people living together. We’ve seen great success there. I’m very interested in leaning into that model in D.C.

The Council is considering a bill to extend the District’s rent control law to 2030. There is a push to also expand the law to include more units. Do you support the bill? Do you support the expansion? Explain. How would you craft an ideal rent control scheme?

We need more rent control units in our city and we need greater enforcement of those rent control laws so that tenants aren’t being taken advantage of. We know that many tenants sign these leases, and years later, they’re getting utilities charges and other types of add-ons that aren’t readily apparent upon first glance that are in violation of rent control laws. It’s important that we have greater oversight, enforcement, and accountability, which will lead to protections for tenants and deterrents for landlords.

GOOD GOVERNMENT

Do you support ranked choice voting in D.C.?

Yes. 

Jack Evans’ ethics violations stem largely from his private employment. Do you support a ban on outside employment for councilmembers? Explain. Should there be any exceptions? Should the ban come with a raise?

I will not have any outside employment on the Council. I don’t believe there needs to be a raise. I do think [Ward 3 Councilmember] Mary Cheh’s work as a law professor is entirely reasonable. 

Constituent services funds are one way councilmembers are able to receive money from people and interests with business before the city. Should we change the rules around how the funds can be used? Eliminate them altogether? Explain.

This one makes me so sad. The original purpose of constituent services funds was to do just that—help constituents. The fact that our previous councilmember abused public trust in such a great way demonstrated how ripe for abuse these funds are. I do think the model needs to change. We should not have constituent services funds anymore.

CLIMATE

Do you support a Green New Deal for D.C.? If so, what would you include in it. 

Despite this terrible crisis we’re in, I’m hopeful it affords us the opportunity to reimagine how we use our public spaces. I support some proposals introduced this week to allow neighbors to apply for a permit to close off certain streets so that they can be used for walking and biking. I’m in favor of allowing restaurants to take advantage of their sidewalk space so diners can still patronize their restaurant and stay a safe distance from each other. I want to expand our solar energy credits. I want to expand our enforcement of those who are violating our climate justice goals. I want to increase the number of [electric vehicle] charging stations. There’s a lot we can do to clean up the Anacostia and Potomac rivers to make sure they’re potable and swimmable. It’s good for the environment and good for tourism. 

SMALL BUSINESS

How will you protect existing small businesses and support future ones that may hope to open?

There’s a lot we need to do to support our small businesses. We need to increase our direct grants we’re providing to them as well as interest-free loan programs. We need to ensure the bureaucratic processes in place to tap into those programs are working and streamlined. I talk to small business owners all the time who tell me they’ve been on hold for nine hours.

Our Certified Business Enterprise Program that aims to provide preference to small and local businesses here in D.C. has been defrauded and taken advantage of by out-of-state businesses.  They’re taking advantage of our local programs that are meant to help our local businesses. So I really want to have greater focus on expanding those programs and making sure we’re providing the resources and support and priority to our businesses that were here or are and need additional support as opposed to a larger focus on bringing in new businesses. 

ECONOMY

How would you balance the D.C. budget (including program cuts) in light of the shortfall caused by the pandemic?

I’m a tax lawyer. I used to represent the Office of Tax and Revenue. So I think there are lots of creative ways to utilize our tax code to yield different results in a way that balances the budget. But my first step is getting the additional $755 million that we’re owed from the federal CARES Act. I’ve been endorsed, I have support of sitting members of Congress like Senator [Richard] Blumenthal from Connecticut and Congressman [Joe] Kennedy from Massachusetts and former Senate minority and majority leader Tom Daschle among others.

I believe if I and others can make that argument more effectively, we can get the $755 million we’re owed so we can provide for more support for our small businesses, get more PPE and drive through testing centers, get more training for teachers, and other important things we have to focus on. If we get the $755 million that would solve a lot of these problems and I’m hopeful and confident in my ability to deliver there. 

Click here for the full guide.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.