This November, District residents will decide whether the city’s Attorney General should be an elected public office. Presently, the Attorney General is appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Council. This would mark the first city-wide referendum since 2002, which supported the popular election of a District Attorney. The D.A. position remains a federal appointee. As of last November, there were still hold-ups in Congress to make this happen.
This new referendum is the result of legislation passed by the Council yesterday. No one was willing to say it out loud, but this was clearly a shot at Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) and his Attorney General Peter Nickles. Many consider Nickles to be too close to the Mayor, often getting involved in issues that an independent Attorney General would have likely avoided. This measure, says Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), “makes the AG more independent.” Maybe. Provided that voters decide to make the AG spot an elected office. Passage is likely given previous polling on the subject. This isn’t an outright attempt to oust Nickles, the first election would not happen until 2014.