Addressing COVID-19 with Urgency and Equity
Councilmember Lewis George’s top priority is to address the profound impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on public health, economic opportunity, safe housing, community safety, education, and social services in Ward 4 and across the city. Ward 4 has experienced some of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the city, and she is committed to confronting the broader social determinants of health that lead to disparate racial and socioeconomic health outcomes alongside a targeted approach to addressing the pandemic.
Councilmember Lewis George has worked tirelessly to fight for increased equity and transparency around the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. She and her team have supported thousands of Ward 4 residents in accessing the vaccine through communication, individualized support, and targeted outreach to vulnerable communities, including seniors, communities of color, immigrant communities, and essential workers. She is a member of the Council’s Special Committee on COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery. She supports universal access to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccinations and the utility shut-off and eviction moratoria as critical public health measures. She is working to ensure that all District residents have the health care, housing, unemployment, and social services they need to endure through this difficult time and work toward a just recovery.
Preserving and Expanding Affordable Housing
Affordable and accessible housing is a priority for Ward 4 and is essential for District residents’ economic stability, safety, and health. Whether we own a home or rent; have lived here for a few years or for generations; are single, retired, or trying to raise a family, we know that the cost of housing in Ward 4 is skyrocketing. The pandemic has underscored that housing is essential to safety and public health. Housing is a human right and need.
Councilmember Lewis George is fighting to end chronic homelessness in the District and ensure that all District residents have stable, affordable places to call home during this crisis and beyond. She is committed to increasing housing affordability in Ward 4 and ensuring that longtime residents are able to stay in their communities and that our seniors can age in place. She is calling for significant investments in our housing programs (including the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, Permanent Supportive Housing, and Targeted Affordable Housing) and in repairing and preserving safe public housing. She is committed to expanding the Housing Production Trust Fund, raising the ceiling on homebuyer assistance programs, expanding the successful DC Homeowner and Rental Property Tax Credit, and taking bold action to expand housing protections like rent control, particularly so residents with low- and fixed incomes can remain part of our communities.
Promoting Community Safety and Crime Reduction
The District is at a criminal justice crossroads. Our old policies fueled the mass incarceration of primarily Black and brown residents without preventing the rise in violent crime. District residents are hurting, and they want safety and stability in their communities. We must pursue a public health approach to community safety that will provide enduring results.
As a former Assistant Attorney General who saw the impact of community interventions, Councilmember Lewis George is calling for a significant increase in funding for violence prevention programs and services that reduce crime by improving the health, education, and economic opportunity for residents. She is working to strengthen coordination with federal and state agencies to address gun trafficking into the District and tighten restrictions on untraceable “ghost guns.” She is advocating for increased investments in victim services programs and has co-introduced legislation to expand supports for victims of crime. She supports providing services for our returning justice-involved residents to prevent recidivism and accelerate decarceration. And she has called for an increase in staffing in the Office of Human Rights to better address discrimination and the profound ways it impacts our residents’ security and wellbeing.
Councilmember Lewis George is committed to robust oversight of District agencies involved in community safety and crime reduction; she meets with agency leaders regularly to advocate for increased transparency, accountability, and reporting to strengthen trust and better target investments in what works, including full implementation of the NEAR Act. She is particularly concerned about improving the relationship between the public and the Metropolitan Police Department and implementing best practices to strengthen the integrity and impact of MPD while piloting alternatives to policing for certain circumstances. She is committed to addressing bias in policing and introduced legislation to investigate ties between MPD officers and hate groups that impact officers’ ability to do their jobs fairly. She believes that all communities, in particular Black and brown communities with higher rates of policing and criminal justice involvement, must be involved in defining community safety for themselves.
Ensuring Quality Education and Child Care for All
All District students should have excellent child care and education options, and their futures shouldn’t be decided by where they live — or the luck of a lottery system. As a product of DCPS, a graduate of City Year, a student member of the State Board of Education, and an advisor at OSSE, Councilmember Lewis George has borne witness to DC’s two-tiered education system, and she is committed to addressing it.
Two of the biggest challenges that Ward 4 families face are finding affordable child care and quality neighborhood middle and high schools. That’s why Councilmember Lewis George is seeking to fully fund universal child care legislation, including the Birth-to-Three for All DC Act, and fighting for real investment in neighborhood schools in every Ward 4 community. Child care is essential, not only for a child’s early development, but for helping to make full-time work possible for young parents. Councilmember Lewis George supports expanding the District’s child care subsidy so more families of color can afford to send their kids to high-quality child care centers and so early childhood educators can earn living wages.
Councilmember Lewis George also supports investment and transparency in our K-12 public school system. Her first bill as a Councilmember was to call for the creation of a multi-year technology plan for DCPS, so that students have the digital literacy skills they need to succeed, and our schools have the equipment and staffing to support 21st century learning. Through her role on the Committee on Recreation, Libraries and Youth Affairs, she is working to strengthen and expand youth programs. Through her participation in the Committee of the Whole, she is engaged in robust oversight of the District’s educational agencies and is advocating for equity, access, and innovation for all District students. She also knows the importance of retaining our educators, so she works hard to make sure teachers and staff in our public schools have the support and protections they need to help our children thrive.
Investing in Good Jobs and an Inclusive Economy
Everyone should benefit from DC’s economic growth, but too often our working families and small businesses are losing out. The pandemic has worsened this inequity. Across the District, people have lost their jobs or are working essential jobs under demanding and often unsafe conditions. Unpaid caregiving has increased and fallen overwhelmingly on women. And our small businesses are struggling and closing; we risk tremendous economic, material, and cultural loss if we cannot help these vital businesses persevere.
Councilmember Lewis George is fighting for an inclusive recovery through safe workplaces, expanded employment services, sustained unemployment insurance, improved caregiving support, and targeted support for small businesses. As a member of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, she is committed to expanding job opportunities and job quality for all residents. She is calling for investments in DC CARES and a range of workforce development programs. She is also advocating for improvements to DC’s unemployment insurance system to ensure that every worker can access the benefits they depend on. She has requested additional funding for small businesses through DSLBD grants, the Main Street program, and the DC Small Business Recovery Microgrants Program. She is committed to providing opportunities for our young adults, reentering residents, and older workers by investing in workforce development for high-growth industries and green jobs. She is helping advance a range of relevant legislation, including measures to make unemployment insurance nontaxable; to strengthen the District procurement program; to develop an equitable and profitable recreational marijuana industry; and to improve paid family and medical leave. Our recovery and prosperity should benefit every resident who calls DC home.
Advancing Healthcare for All
While DC has tremendous health resources, there are stark, longstanding health disparities in the District that have led to devastating and inequitable outcomes for our Black communities and constrained Black residents’ access to care. DC has the highest Black maternal mortality rate in the nation, yet in many communities of color we are seeing hospitals closed or downsized and overcrowding increase.
Councilmember Lewis George is committed to ensuring all residents have access to nearby hospitals and clinics and is working to strengthen maternal and infant help outcomes, patient-centered care, and safe staffing in health care settings. She is calling for increased investments in behavioral health services for students and District residents. She supports a national, Medicare for All system that will increase equity and quality outcomes while reducing costs for all. She is working to combat discrimination in our health care system, expand access to immigrant residents, and strengthen sexual and reproductive health services, and the District’s coordinated response to preventing and treating HIV. In addition to prioritizing quality care, Councilmember Lewis George is working to addressing systemic racism and the social determinants of health, including safe housing, economic stability, quality education, and safe communities, to finally close racial disparities in health outcomes once and for all.
Supporting Our Seniors
Ward 4’s strength comes from our seniors and longtime community members. Our seniors are bedrocks of their families and communities, and they deserve responsive, accessible, and tailored services to ensure that they can live comfortably, access needed social and health services, and age in place.
Councilmember Lewis George is committed to strengthening responsive, affordable, and accessible health care services; expanding transportation access; improving access to physical and social activities for our seniors; and ensuring robust support for our caregiver. She supports strengthening retirement plans and ensuring all residents, regardless of their job, have the opportunity to save for a secure retirement. She is working to ensure all District seniors have the support they need to age in place and that home care workers and family caregivers are supported in these vital roles. She supports an age-friendly DC where all residents can access needed stores, services, and opportunities.
Sustaining Critical Investments in Transportation and Safe Streets
Ward 4 residents need safe, reliable, and affordable ways to get around, no matter their preferred mode of travel. We must promote transportation equity and access for our essential workers, seniors, residents with disabilities, and other community members through legislation, practice, and effective implementation of Vision Zero and moveDC.
Councilmember Lewis George is committed to increasing transportation safety, accessibility, and affordability while addressing environmental impact. She is fighting to preserve vital WMATA services and improve the bus system, which is essential to Ward 4’s essential workers, late shift workers, seniors, students, and residents with disabilities. Councilmember Lewis George supports the District’s Vision Zero plan and further investments to make our streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians; she is working to improve pedestrian safety, particularly for our students and seniors, and to promote bicycle infrastructure, including finishing the Metropolitan Branch Trail expansion project and build more protected bike lanes so getting downtown on a bike is a real possibility for more people. She knows that many Ward 4 residents rely on driving, so she is working to improve the safety and reduce the environmental impact of driving for residents. She introduced legislation to update and incentivize the District’s defensive driving courses, and she is fighting for improved traffic calming and infrastructure upgrades throughout the Ward. Her team is equally committed to addressing location-specific infrastructure and repair issues, from potholes to alley repairs to fixed street lights, to help residents get around more safely.
Strengthening Social Services
The District is strong when our safety net is strong. We need to ensure robust, responsive, and accessible social services to support all our residents, whether they are facing housing instability, food insecurity, caregiving or medical demands, chronic medical conditions, or insufficient income. We need to provide targeted support for our residents with disabilities. We also need to ensure that our veterans receive essential services and benefits. Our safety net has provided critical support and life-saving stability during the pandemic and must be preserved. As we work towards a just recovery, it is particularly important to protect and expand our social services with a racial equity lens.
As a member of the Human Services Committee, Councilmember Lewis George is helping to lead on these issues by increasing our investments in TANF, WIC, SNAP, school meal programs, Interim Disability Assistance, and both legal and social services for immigrant residents. She supports improving program flexibility and streamlined application processes, including online applications, online purchases, and video appointments for social and medical services. She is committed to supporting unhoused residents through both stable housing and vital social services.
Addressing Environmental Racism and Climate Change
The biggest threat to future generations of Washingtonians is climate change. The District must continue addressing climate change to ensure the immediate and long-term health and security of our residents. And low-income communities of color in the District already experience environmental injustice through that will be exacerbated by inaction, particularly in the east end of the city and along the Anacostia River.
Through her work on the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, Councilmember Lewis George is committed to delivering critical upgrades to our infrastructure, creating green jobs in our communities, implementing the DC Clean Energy Act, getting lead out of our homes and schools and playgrounds, improving food quality and sustainability, and expanding environmental literacy in our classrooms. She has called for additional staffing at the Energy and Green Building division and to preserve funding for the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund and the Renewable Energy Development Fund, and is supporting progress toward the Clean Energy DC Plan. She will continue fighting for equitable environmental policies for all District communities, along with needed infrastructure and workforce advances to support these goals.
Strengthening Government Accountability and Ethics
The DC Government should work for everyone—not just campaign donors and big business interests. Residents deserve leaders who are accountable for their actions and transparent to constituents, refuse corporate contributions, and will ensure government services are accessible to all.
Councilmember Lewis George is committed to principles of transparency, accountability, and equity. Throughout her career she has upheld high ethical standards, and during her campaign she refused corporate donations and used the District’s “Fair Elections” public campaign financing program. She and her team are regularly engaged with and out in the community, and she is dedicated to putting people first and ensuring that no one is left out of our city’s future. This means ensuring that all residents have the right to vote in local elections, regardless of immigration status; removing barriers to voting in DC; fighting for the District’s equal representation in Congress; strengthening the public campaign financing program; and closing the revolving door between the Wilson Building and lobbying. It also means strengthening our public unions, increasing public engagement in our public commissions and boards, and empowering our ANCs to be a strong voice for their neighborhoods.
Fighting for DC Statehood
District residents pay higher taxes per capita than any state in the nation, we serve our country with pride, and yet we are denied Senators, refused guaranteed voting representation in the House, and excluded from local autonomy. Statehood is not only necessary to gain Congressional representation; it’s also a matter of District autonomy over our laws, our budgets, legal system, and public safety.
Councilmember Lewis George is a strong supporter of statehood and is working to advance this issue on the national stage while also strengthening District autonomy and necessary coordination with federal agencies. She believes that the District must adopt best practices to position itself for statehood and maintain strong relationships with federal agencies and leaders who currently influence the structure of many District policies and institutions.