By Alexis Applegate
Our most recent Dinner & Discussion featured Councilmember Charles Allen. Over creole-inspired fare, Allen spoke to nineteen people —lawyers from firms, legal-services organizations, and the government, as well as residents of Ward 6—to discuss his experience on the D.C. Council and his path to public service.
Councilmember Allen and attendees discussed a range of legal topics directly affecting the District: the rise in fines and fees that can lead to suspended drivers licenses; the Metro Fare Evasion Bill; conditions for people locked up in the DC jail; the school-to-prison pipeline; and more.
Mr. Allen also shared his path to becoming a public servant and elected official. He received his Masters of Public Health degree in Alabama, served as Chief of Staff for Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, and then ran for the Ward 6 seat himself. While some may be surprised that the Chair of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee is not a lawyer, Allen told his lawyerly dinner mates that he views his education and background as an asset. He is able to view problems through a public health perspective and visualize systemic ways of studying and addressing problems. He also has educated himself about the DC legal system and the legal services organizations that serve low-income residents. Through events such as ours, Councilmember Allen actively encourages collaboration between the D.C. Council and the legal service providers to work toward reaching our access to justice goals.
It was great to discuss some of the most important issues affecting our city. Thank you to Councilmember Allen for joining us and to Cooley for hosting this event.
Alexis Applegate is Washington Council of Lawyer’s Communications Director and member of the Board of Directors.