Brooke Pinto, the newest member of the D.C. Council representing Ward 2, will not have a large African American constituency, but her views on issues such as economic development, public safety and education reflect an understanding of the plight of Blacks in the District, particularly those east of the Anacostia River.
On June 2, Pinto, a political newcomer, won the Democratic primary among a group of candidates, even besting former Council member Jack Evans, who stepped down in January amid an ethics scandal but ran again for his seat. On June 16, Pinto won the special election to serve out the rest of Evans’ term on the council, taking 40 percent of the vote.
Pinto, who will be the first woman and third person to represent Ward 2 on the council, expressed humbleness at her political success.
“I want to thank the residents of Ward 2 for entrusting with this position and I will work hard to represent the interests of this ward and the entire city on the council,” she told The Informer.
Pinto holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and her Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center. After graduating from law school, she worked as D.C.’s assistant attorney general.
In February, she decided to run for the council seat, receiving an endorsement from her former boss, Attorney General Karl Racine, who said she would represent the ward well.
“Brooke thoroughly understands the importance of listening to the views of all interests that could be impacted by contemplated legislation,” Racine said. “She is a persuasive person who leads by consensus.”
Pinto’s ward lies in the southern and western portions of the District, encompassing neighborhoods such as Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, DuPont Circle, Logan Circle, Sheridan-Kalorama, Mount Vernon Square, Shaw and a large portion of downtown. The ward includes many of the city’s monuments and museums and landmarks such as the White House and the National Mall.
Demographically, African Americans make up 14.95 percent of Ward 2’s population and the poverty level in the ward hovers around 13.3 percent, according to the latest census data.
While she will represent a small Black constituency, Pinto expressed her awareness of the challenges faced by many African Americans in the District in the areas of economic development, public safety and education. Regarding economic development, Pinto said she will “focus on lifting up small businesses.”
“I want to see that the city’s certified business enterprise program is well-run,” she said. “We want to make sure that our small businesses are set up to succeed and to eliminate any unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles they face. We have a plethora of government programs to help small businesses and they should be utilized.”
Pinto said fighting crime will also be a priority, noting that “public safety affects everyone in the city.” She said increasing community policing throughout her ward and in the District and that fair police practices should take place regardless of one’s neighborhood.
“I know that if a young person gets in trouble in the wealthier white neighborhoods, the neighbors rally around that kid and try to help him, but in communities of color, a young person who commits the same offense will be punished, and that is wrong,” Pinto said.
Pinto echoes the same sentiments when it comes to education.
“There are vast differences in education among the city’s neighborhoods,” she said. “Some schools have problems with classroom sizes and have an unfair teacher-student ratio. We want to give our students a real chance to succeed. Sometimes it has to do with the home life of our students such as whether they had breakfast before they got to school.”
Pinto said she will work hard on this issue and others while at the council. She still will be on the campaign trail because she faces Republican Katherine Venice and independent Martin Miguel Fernandez in the November 3 general election for a full four-year term that begins early January 2021. Even though she will be a freshman lawmaker, Nick DelleDonne, president of the DuPont East Civic Action Association, said he and his organization will support her.
“I am impressed with the way she reaches out to the community,” DelleDonne said. “I was glad to see her emerge as the winner and we will try to help her.”