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Meet Janeese

I grew up on 2nd Street in Ward 4’s Manor Park, the third generation of Washingtonians in my family. My mom has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 33 years, and if you’ve been to the Brightwood Post Office, she’s still the person who helps you at the desk with a smile. My mom raised me and my two older siblings to know the importance of family, hard work, education, and public service.

Seeing both DCs

Our family had to work hard. My local DC public school, Rudolph Elementary, had leaking ceilings, books that were missing pages, and was in the middle of neighborhood violence that made studying seem like a luxury. But my mom worked to give me a better path. My grandmother was a lunch lady at Alice Deal Middle School in Friendship Heights, and together they helped me enroll as a student there.

I remember my first time riding the E2 bus across Military Road to the neighborhood where Deal is located. It was like a different world. It felt so much safer. The books at school had all their pages. There were so many more resources and opportunities. And I couldn’t help but wonder, why can’t schools be like this on our side of the park? Now, it’s twenty years later, and Ward 4’s schools still aren’t keeping pace.

Leading from the start

Just as it was then, today in DC, the neighborhood where a child is born determines much of their destiny. I knew we could do better, and it ignited my passion to fight for my community. In 2005, I was elected as Student Representative on the D.C. Board of Education and Ward 4 Representative on the D.C. Youth Advisory Council. In 2006, I served as DC’s YMCA Youth Mayor and deepened my commitment to affordable housing, education, and the importance of civic engagement.

I went on to study Government & Politics at St. John’s University. After graduating, I completed a year of service with City Year, providing academic, behavioral, and attendance support to underserved seventh graders at Hollenbeck Middle School, leading after-school programs, and organizing activities aimed at improving the overall school environment. Once again, I saw first-hand the pervasive effects of income inequality.

Fighting for justice

Inspired to fight inequality head on, I came back to DC to attend Howard University School of Law. In 2014, I earned my Juris Doctor and began as an Assistant District Attorney, working for Philadelphia’s first African-American District Attorney.

In 2016, I came home to work for Attorney General Karl A. Racine as the Assistant Attorney General in the Juvenile Section of the Public Safety Division. There, I worked to advance juvenile justice reform by utilizing innovative, evidence-based practices and serving as an ambassador for the office’s “I Belong Here” and Human Trafficking Taskforce.

I currently serve as an Executive Board Member for the Ward 4 Democrats, as well as a Committeewoman on the D.C. Democratic State Committee. My husband Kyle and I live in Ward 4’s Manor Park neighborhood where I was born and raised.

Showing up for the home team

In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed inequality in our city continue to grow wider year after year. And while the city has become more prosperous, that prosperity has clearly not benefited everyone fairly. I know firsthand that problems in education, housing, health, and safety are all deeply connected. To solve one of them, we need to work on all of them. We don’t have a revenue problem; we have a leadership and priorities problem. This is why I am running to represent Ward 4 on the DC Council. Change cannot wait any longer, and developers can’t keep coming before our families. Ward 4 needs a strong independent voice and a fighter on the Council who will take bold and progressive action to address the inequality in our city, make sure our voices are heard, and ensure that no one is left out of our city’s future. We have a chance right now to make our ward and our city people-powered again.

Photos by Flickr users Ted Eytan and Mike Maguire

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Janeese is fighting for a DC that works for you, not big donors. We are refusing corporate contributions and only taking donations up to $50. If you’re a DC resident, your donation will be matched 5 to 1 by DC’s new public financing program.