After her reelection to the Council of the District of Columbia, Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto (LAW ’17) has her eye on a variety of issues, ranging from COVID-19 pandemic recovery to criminal justice reform.
Pinto beat out three challengers in November, garnering 68.83% of the vote. She previously won the seat in a June 2020 special election to replace former Councilmember Jack Evans, who resigned after numerous ethical scandals. With her June election, Pinto became the first woman to hold the position. Pinto said her reelection campaign was shaped by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the mass demonstrations for racial justice in D.C.
Helping the District recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is a main priority for her term, according to Pinto.
“First front of mine continues to be COVID-19 recovery, making sure that our community has access to quick and accessible and free testing, ensuring that we have access to vaccines once those become available next month, making sure that our workers have access to extended unemployment benefits and providing additional assistance to our small local businesses,” Pinto said in a phone interview with The Hoya.
After a summer of protests against police killings of unarmed Black citizens in D.C. and across the country, Pinto plans to address racial injustice with a multi-faceted approach.
“I think that when we’re talking about reforms and addressing the systemic racism that pervades our entire society and country and world, I think it’s really important to also zoom out and think about all of the areas that we can make a meaningful difference,” Pinto said.
The D.C. Police Reform Commission, created by the Council in June, has the potential to make a positive impact, according to Pinto. The commission will present their formal recommendations for Metropolitan Police Department reforms to the Council by the end of December 2020. Pinto said these recommendations will help to mold her criminal justice reform agenda.
“Criminal justice reform is going to be a major focus at the start of 2021 for me and all of my colleagues as we work to really implement many of the important demands of so many of our neighbors over the course of this summer,” Pinto said.
Increasing access to after-school programming is another important step towards a more equitable D.C., according to Pinto.
“It’s really important that we provide all of our students with optionality and access to after-school programming both for supervision, but also for athletic movement and intellectual stimulation and socialization and to hone various talents and skill sets as we set them up for higher learning,” Pinto said.
Pinto is also working to move the Second Look Amendment Act through the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. The bill would allow individuals who committed crimes before the age of 25 to petition a judge to review their cases once they have served 15 years of their sentences.
As winter approaches, increasing access to affordable housing and assisting city members experiencing homelessness is another key priority for Pinto.
“We’ve done a number of things to move folks into housing, and particularly as it gets colder in the next few weeks,” Pinto said. “We are very focused on moving as many folks into permanent, supportive housing as possible and ensuring that our wrap-around services and benefits are truly tailored to the individualized needs of each person.”
The possibility of a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate is a source of hope for D.C. statehood, according to Pinto.
“If Democrats get the Senate, there is no stopping what we could do, and statehood really becomes a more immediate term possibility,” Pinto said.
In addition to her policy-related goals, Pinto hopes that as the first female Ward 2 Councilmember, she will empower other young women to run for office.
“I think that women oftentimes stop themselves from pursuing their next goal with a fear or a worry of being the most prepared in the room before they raise their hand,” Pinto said. “I hope that my running and my winning inspires other young women to get involved, whether that be in public service or in their own private business capacity to step up to the plate.”