Attorney Ryan Jones grew up in the 14th Street Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and has watched gentrification push people of color into Maryland, Virginia and other places.
He also has lent his voice to the decades-long battle for D.C. statehood. During the protests in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd and other African Americans, Jones joined the demonstrations to help proclaim that Black Lives Matter.
The 36-year-old, who graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Law and earned a master of laws at George Washington University Law, now hopes to become the District’s next attorney general.
Incumbent Karl Racine, the city’s first elected attorney general, has announced his decision to seek another four-year term.
“Living through 2020, we watched atrocities happening to certain people and we were losing tons of lives and still saw that Black lives weren’t valued,” Jones asserted. “I protested and marched. However, to make a real difference, I decided to run.”
Jones said his campaign should not be viewed as a referendum on what Racine has or has not done. Entering the race remains more about making a difference, he insists.
“I could not sit back and not do nothing,” said Jones, whose father worked at the D.C. Office of the People’s Counsel advocating for residents against utility companies.
With family members, including his mother, working as real estate agents, Jones counts as a staunch advocate of homeownership for people of color.
He also works to protect seniors.
“Seniors in D.C. oftentimes don’t have wills and that prevents them from passing their property to family members, which establishes generational wealth,” Jones said. “Seniors are viciously sought after by people who are taking advantage of their age, health and lack of support.”
Currently, Jones finds himself fighting a case involving a senior citizen in the Court of Appeals. The individual has been asked to pay an excise tax because she has an independent contractor come into her home and provide needed care.
“She can’t afford this tax, so we have to look at certain provisions in the tax code on whether she should be paying out of pocket when she should not,” Jones said. “We do not need to put undue pressure on her financially. These are the types of fights that I’m taking to the highest level to protect our seniors.”
As attorney general, Jones revealed that he would create a program that would put citizens together with private law firms to handle matters outside the purview of his office.
“I care about the residents of D.C. and I know there are laws that are inequitable that we need to get off the books,” Jones said. “I’m fighting for our residents to make this city better.”