Check out where the Ward 4 D.C. Council candidates stand on the issues affecting justice and freedom in the District. All candidates running for D.C. Council seats were asked to fill out this questionnaire. 

Note: The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. We do not support or oppose candidates for elected office. 

D.C. is considered the protest capital of the United States of America. Would you protect the First Amendment rights of protestors who live and visit the District?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes. Every community, especially ours as the nation’s capital, must be a safe place to express viewpoints freely. I work to make sure we protect speech. One recent example is I passed an amendment to clarify the mask provision in Secure DC to help prevent it from being weaponized against First Amendment protestors by giving local and federal law enforcement a legal basis to detain them.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

Do you support changing Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) policy prohibiting advertising “intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying public opinions.”?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes. I think it’s dangerous for government and government-related entities to be in the position of deciding what speech is controversial and the current approach requires them to do that.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

If a bill you opposed were to be passed by the D.C. Council, would you advocate for Congress to overturn it?

Janeese Lewis George: No. I am a lifelong committed supporter of Statehood and think we all need to work together to protect DC’s Home Rule.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

Because of our unique status and the impacts of the Home Rule and Revitalization Acts that give the federal government control over many different parts of our criminal legal system, including the prosecutors, courts, and supervision agencies, members of the D.C. Council do not have legal or budgetary authority over those entities. Would you use your role on the Council to ensure that these entities serve our residents fairly and effectively?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes. Many federal agencies like USAO, CSOSA, and DC Superior Court – though not controlled by DC – play critical roles in DC residents’ lives. I will continue to use my platform, influence, and advocacy to fight for a safer community and ensure these organizations are doing right by DC residents.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

What is your definition of safety?

Janeese Lewis George: A safe community is one in which all members can thrive, free from violence, the threats of violence, and discrimination – and whose needs are fully met when it comes to a strong education, food and nutrition, affordable housing, and economic security.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

Do you support the implementation of the 24/7 real-time crime center?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes. I believe a 24/7 Real-Time Crime Center can streamline and improve the District’s response to emergency incidents and save lives. However, there also need to be safeguards in place to ensure that DC residents’ civil liberties and basic rights are upheld.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

Currently, the Metropolitan Police Department and other District agencies have sole authority over law enforcement surveillance in the District. Do you think the D.C. Council should oversee this government surveillance?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes. There is vastly more surveillance data now than at any time in the history of the District. So much of what happens in our communities is captured on video. It’s important to have independent oversight to make sure people’s rights are being protected. I am open to a variety of approaches that would create additional transparency and accountability – whether from the Council or another independent body.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

Do you support the recommendations of the D.C. Police Reform Commission?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes. I support many of the recommendations of the D.C. Police Reform Commission overall and have worked to advance many of them in law – such as my bill to place common-sense limits on police vehicular pursuits.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

If elected, which recommendations would you prioritize implementing? 

Janeese Lewis George: In addition to my legislation on police vehicular pursuits, I strongly support the new Deputy Auditor for Public Safety in the Office of the DC Auditor in his work overseeing our public safety agencies and ensuring that they operate to keep our communities safe and maintain the public trust.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

Do you support police-free schools?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes. I prioritize bringing community-based interventions to our schools such as conflict resolution education, School Safety Directors, mental health counselors, and Safe Passage coverage to improve safety in our schools in order to reduce the District’s reliance on School Resource Officers and fully meet students’ need for safe, supportive learning environments.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

What non-law enforcement supports would you invest in to improve school safety? 

Janeese Lewis George: 

A) I passed and funded the School Transparency and Security Act together with Councilmember Robert White to fix door locks, PA systems, and security cameras at schools that keep students safe.

B) Road-related danger is a major source of injury and lack of safety for our students. That’s why I led the Council in passing and funding the Safe Routes to School Act, which will require major traffic safety improvements at every school in DC, starting from the ones that have been left behind.

C) I introduced a bill to require conflict mediation in every school curriculum in DC to help students learn how to manage their emotions, deescalate conflicts, and develop healthy relationships.

D) I funded a new ONSE Leadership Academy at MacFarland Middle School to provide in-school mentorship and support for students considered at risk.

E) I support funding for School Safety Directors in each school and co-introduced the legislation to establish the program. "

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

Do you support ending the use of solitary confinement in the D.C. Jail?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes and I’ve co-introduced the ERASE Solitary Confinement Act of 2023 to end the use of solitary confinement in the District.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

Do you support empowering a new independent oversight body with unrestricted access to the D.C. Jail to regularly and publicly report on the conditions and treatment of residents at D.C. Department of Corrections facilities?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

What types of measures would you implement to hold MPD accountable when they disregard or violate Department policies or District laws?  

Janeese Lewis George: 

A) I strongly believe that officer discipline should not be subject to collective bargaining in order to allow MPD to hold officers accountable when they commit serious violations– as has happened in the past.

B) I also defended the critical police oversight and transparency measures that Secure DC proposed repealing or weakening. 

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

Do you believe that mental health specialists, rather than police, should serve as the default first responders for mental health emergencies?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

Do you support a 24-hour harm reduction center in D.C.?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes. "I have included this as a budget request to the Mayor based on my experience visiting the OnPoint program in New York City. "

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.

Do you support increasing the number of Community Response Team (CRT) members and creating more appropriate crisis response locations?

Janeese Lewis George: Yes. We need more capacity to help neighbors suffering from mental health and substance abuse crises.

Lisa Gore: Did not answer.

Paul Johnson: Did not answer.