By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
Karl Racine is running for re-election as the District of Columbia’s attorney general but faces no opponent in the Democratic Party primary or even in the Republican, DC Statehood Green and Libertarian parties.
Nevertheless, Racine is making appearances at Democratic club meetings and participating in organization’s endorsement processes. “I am running unopposed but you will see me everywhere,” Racine said to a meeting of the Ward 7 Democrats on April 28 at the Dorothy I. Height Benning Library in Northeast. “The stronger we are, the voice will carry and others will follow. We want to be leaders in this city.”
Recently, Racine won the endorsement of the Ward 8 Democrats in a process where no other candidate for public office got the organization’s approval.
Racine became the first elected attorney general in the history of the District in 2014, when he won the Nov. 4 general election with almost 36 percent of the vote against five opponents. Since taking office in 2015, Racine has been an activist attorney general. He has joined other Democratic attorney generals in lawsuits and causes against the actions of the Trump administration on immigration and civil rights as well as the fight for D.C. statehood.
Racine is a native of Haiti and a longtime District resident. He was a star basketball player at St. John’s College High School and proceeded to get his bachelor’s degree from the University of the Virginia and his juris doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.
Racine has practiced law with the Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia, as associate counsel with the Clinton administration, and with such high-powered law firms as Venable LLP and Cacheris & Treanor. His 2014 election as attorney general was his first run for public office.
Racine told the audience that juvenile justice is a top priority. “The Office of Attorney General has exclusive prosecution over juveniles in the District of Columbia,” he said. “We came into office, we took a hard look at the outcomes of juveniles. Most judges give juveniles who commit crimes probation but loads them down with conditions.”
Racine said most juvenile probationers don’t meet the terms and end up back in trouble. To change that, Racine links a juvenile in the criminal justice system with outside organizations whose mission is to keep them out of trouble.
Racine said prosecutors in his juvenile division initiated an anti-truancy program at John Phillip Sousa Middle School that cut school skipping from 26 percent to 6 percent.
Racine said he is using the power of his office to make sure developers are keeping their word on building and maintaining safe affordable housing units. He wants to focus more on seniors in the areas of housing, consumer protection, and elder abuse if he is elected for another four-year term.
Greg Rhett is a politically active Ward 7 resident and told the AFRO why Racine doesn’t have an opponent this year. “He is doing such as wonderful job,” Rhett said. “He faced strong competition four years ago and he is doing exactly what he said he was going to do. Hands down, he is the best man for the job.”