William Lightfoot

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William Lightfoot
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia at-large
In office
Preceded byCarol Schwartz
Succeeded byCarol Schwartz
Personal details
Born (1950-01-03) January 3, 1950 (age 70)
United States
Political partyDemocratic (since 1997),
Independent (1988–1997),
Democratic (until 1988)
ResidenceTakoma, Washington, D.C.[1]
Alma materHoward University,
Washington University School of Law J.D.
OccupationAttorney, politician

William Parker Lightfoot (born January 3, 1950[2]) is an attorney and politician in Washington, D.C.

Early years and education[edit]

Originally from Philadelphia, Lightfoot graduated from Howard University.[3] He earned a juris doctor from Washington University School of Law in 1978.[4]

Political career[edit]

Lightfoot began his political career as a staff member for District of Columbia Council member Wilhelmina Rolark from 1979 to 1981.[4]

District of Columbia Cable Design Commission[edit]

In 1981, a voter referendum was proposed that would allow taxpayers a $1,200 income tax credit for each dependent child attending school.[5] Lightfoot successfully challenged the petitions as being collected by someone who was not a District resident, which made those signatures invalid.[6] Without sufficient valid signatures, the referendum was not on the November ballot.[6]

The Council appointed Lightfoot to chair the District of Columbia Cable Design Commission, a commission to write a request for proposal that would determine how cable television should operate in the District, in 1982.[7][8] The Council gave the Commission 90 days to write the request for proposal, but the Commission asked for another six months to complete it.[8] Lightfoot was opposed to the additional time, saying it unnecessarily delayed the awarding of a cable franchise.[8] The Commission released the request for proposal in July 1983. The Commission determined that there should be minimum offering of 60 channels for residents and 25 channels for businesses and governmental agencies.[9] The winning franchiser should set aside several of the channels for municipal and community use, provide studios to the public to produce programming, provide grants to support public-benefit television programs, provide service to all eight wards, and complete all work within five years.[9] The Washington Post named Lightfoot one of "Five to Watch in 1984", calling him the "cable czar".[10]

Lightfoot held several public forums to hear from residents about the imminent cable television service.[11] Lightfoot said that residents should be able to participate in the process of bringing cable television to the District and learn how it would increase employment and training.[12] The first forum was held in Ward 7.[11]

After the bidding process was complete, District Cablevision was awarded a contract to provide a 79-channel cable system to residents of the District within four years.[13][14]

Council of the District of Columbia[edit]

1986 campaign[edit]

In June 1986, Lightfoot announced he would run as a Democrat for at-large member of the Council of the District of Columbia, essentially challenging Betty Ann Kane's reelection.[15] Lightfoot said that Kane had helped big businesses more than working residents.[15]

The next week, John L. Gibson announced his candidacy for the same seat on the Council.[16] Gibson had been a commissioner of the District of Columbia Board of Parole; a community organizer for the United Planning Organization and the Washington Urban League; and a staff member for the District of Columbia Board of Education, the District of Columbia Office of Personnel, and the Department of Housing and Community Development.[16] Gibson said he was surprised that Lightfoot had decided to run because he was under the impression that Lightfood had said he would support his campaign.[16] Gibson speculated that perhaps someone had mistakenly told Lightfoot that Gibson would not actually run for the office.[16]

Lightfoot dropped out the following month, saying, "By remaining in the race, I would have split votes with Mr. Gibson, who shares my views on the issues. ... In the past, candidates with similar views would split the votes, allowing someone with another view to win. That is a mistake I did not want to repeat."[17] Lightfoot endorsed Gibson's campaign.[17]

Kane won the Democratic primary election with 69 percent of the vote,[18] and she won reelection in the general election, receiving 60 percent of the vote in the general election.[19]

1988 campaign[edit]

In 1988, Lightfoot ran again for an at-large seat on the Council of the District of Columbia, this time running as an independent.[20]

After leaving the Council, Lightfoot changed his registration to the Democratic Party.[21] Lightfoot's goal was to unseat Republican Carol Schwartz, who was expected to run for reelection.[22][23] Schwartz later decided not to run for reelection, citing the recent deaths of her husband, mother, mother-in-law, and best friend as factors in her decision.[24][25]

Other individuals who ran for an at-large seat on the Council included incumbent Democrat John L. Ray; Republican Jerry Moore, former Council member; Independent David Watson, former spokesperson for the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission; Independent R. Calvin Lockridge, D.C. school board member; Statehood Party Tom Chorlton, gay rights activist; Statehood Party David Watson; and Libertarian Dennis Sobin.[25][26][27][28]

Washington Metropolitan Council AFL–CIO and Greater Washington chapter of Americans for Democratic Action endorsed Lightfoot's candidacy.[29][30]

Lightfoot was elected to the Council with 27 percent of the vote.[31] He was inaugurated on January 2, 1989.[32]

First term[edit]

In the District of Columbia, corporations and partnerships are allowed to donate to political campaigns.[33] A person who owns several entities can have each entity donate separately in order to get around the maximum donation allowed by law.[33] Lightfoot introduced a bill that would eliminate that strategy by including donations by corporations and partnerships in each owner's total maximum donation.[33]

During the Government of the District of Columbia's financial troubles in 1991, Lightfoot proposed increasing the utility tax in order to honor the Council's promise to give $36 million in raises to government employees.[34] The Council unanimously passed the utility tax three months later.[35] Lightfoot turned down two salary increases that members of the Council were given.[36] Lightfoot was one of twelve council members who voted to end the employment of 2,000 mid-level managers because the government did not have the cash to pay them.[37] When an arbitration panel decided that police officers must be given four-percent raises each year for three years, Lightfoot protested, saying the District did not have the cash.[38] Lightfoot was also concerned that it would set precedent to also give raises to other governmental employees, which would require increases to income tax rates.[38]

The District of Columbia Board of Education had full authority of its own budget.[39] Lightfoot proposed an amendment to the Charter of the District of Columbia to give the Council the authority to veto line-items from the education budget.[39]

The District of Columbia Parole Board successfully petitioned the Council to increase its budget in order to hire 22 new parole officers.[40] When the District of Columbia Parole Board decided to use the money to move to larger space rather than hire new parole officers, Lightfoot criticized them, saying, "We're paying money for rent instead of hiring parole officers."[40]

Lightfoot was also critical of a line-item in the District's budget to pay for an outside security firm to guard the Department of Administrative Services when the Bureau of Protective Services could perform the same job.[41]

In May 1991, a police officer shot a Salvadoran man, Daniel Enrique Gomez, and arrested him on a charge of disorderly conduct.[42] The shooting led to the looting, burning, and vandalizing of more than three dozen businesses in Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and Columbia Heights.[42] Lightfoot and Frank Smith introduced a bill to give tax breaks to businesses that had sustained damages.[42]

Lightfoot served on the Council until 1997.[43]

1992 campaign[edit]

Lightfoot ran for reelection in 1992.[44] Lightfoot was on the general election ballot along with incumbent Democrat John Ray, Republican Philip Baten, D.C. Statehood Sam Jordan, and Independent Brian Moore.[1]

Lightfoot was reelected to the Council with 30 percent of the vote.[45][46]

Second term[edit]

In 1993, Lightfoot proposed merging the Council of the District of Columbia with the District of Columbia Board of Education, creating a larger, united government entity.[47]

Lightfoot introduced a resolution calling for the Washington Redskins to change its name.[48] The resolution said in part, "'Redskins'...is a discredit to the many men who have played outstanding football for the team. Nicknames and mascots constitute an unauthentic representation of Native Americans, whether used for entertainment, commercial or symbolic purposes. This imagery degrades Native American people and culture and distorts Native American and non-American perceptions of self and community."[48]

Lightfoot filed paperwork to run for mayor as an independent in August 1994.[49][50] He withdrew from the race a month later.[50][51]

Along with Council member John Ray, Lightfoot introduced a bill to allow companies other than Bell Atlantic to offer local telephone service to customers in the District.[52] Lightfoot said that competition would decrease customers' prices and while increasing the quality of service.[52]

Lightfoot proposed legislation that prohibited anyone less than 17 years old from being out in public between the hours of from midnight to 6 a.m. on weekends and summers and between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on other days.[53] Lightfoot said the legislation would improve the quality of life for children and help identify children who are likely to become victims of crime or may commit crime themselves.[53]

On January 30, 1996, Lightfoot told the Washington Informer, "I probably wouldn't run for re-election this year. I have two small children and I would very much like to teach them various things, being a good father and nurturing them. But I think the key word here is that I probably wouldn't run. But I haven't made up my mind as yet."[54] The following month, Lightfoot decided not to run for reelection.[55]

Recent years[edit]

Lightfoot currently works as Of Counsel with the law firm May Lightfoot PLLC. May Lightfoot PLLC.

Lightfoot was a partner at the personal injury law firm of Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot in Washington, D.C.[2] From 1981 to 2019. He has first began working for the law firm in 1981.[4] During his tenure on the Council, Lightfoot worked part-time at the law firm.[56] After his two terms on the Council ended, Lightfoot returned to full-time work, and he became a partner at the firm.[56]

Lightfoot was a co-chair of Adrian Fenty's transition committee in 2006[57] and Fenty's inaugural committee in 2007.[58] Lightfoot was also the chair of Fenty's reelection campaign in 2010.[59]

Lightfoot served as the chair of Muriel Bowser's campaigns for mayor of the District of Columbia in 2014 and 2018.[21][60] After his two terms on the Council ended, Lightfoot returned to full-time work, and he became a partner at the firm.[56]

Electoral history[edit]


1988 General Election, Council of the District of Columbia, At-large[61]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Ray 117,572 45
Independent William Lightfoot 71,948 27
Republican Jerry Moore 29,588 11
D.C. Statehood Tom Chorlton 19,446 8
Independent R. Calvin Lockridge 13,907 6
Independent R. Rochelle Burns 5,829 2
Libertarian Dennis Sobin 3,419 1


1992 General Election, Council of the District of Columbia, At-large[46]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Ray 149,227 51
Independent William Bill Lightfoot 87,729 30
D.C. Statehood Sam Jordan 27,326 9
Republican Philip Baten 16,516 6
Independent Brian Patrick Moore 13,246 4
  write-in 1,211 0


  1. ^ a b Sanchez, Rene. "Two Feeling Weight of Incumbency: In 5-Way At-Large Race, Lightfoot, Ray Not Taking Voters for Granted". The Washington Post. October 29, 1992. p. DC1.
  2. ^ a b "William P. Lightfoot. Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, LLP. 2015. Retrieved on July 8, 2015.
  3. ^ Knight, Althelia. "D.C. Lawyer Lightfoot To Seek Seat on Council". The Washington Post. June 19, 1988. p. D3.
  4. ^ a b c Richburg, Keith B. "Fast Lane Into Firms: The Revolving Door: As City Government Matures, the 'Revolving Door' Speeds Up". The Washington Post. March 12, 1981. p. DC1.
  5. ^ Richburg, Keith B. "Foes Dispute Petition on Tax Credit Issue". The Washington Post. July 29, 1981. p. A12.
  6. ^ a b "Board Says No To Initiative: Signatures Collected Illegally". Washington Informer. August 6, 1981. p. 1.
  7. ^ Sherwood, Tom. "Panel to Start Work On D.C. Cable TV". The Washington Post. December 29, 1982. p. C5.
  8. ^ a b c Sherwood, Tom. "D.C. Commission Asks Extension Of Cable Study". The Washington Post. February 15, 1983. p. C2.
  9. ^ a b Teeley, Sandra Evans. "Approval of 60-Channel Cable System With Few Changes Predicted for City". The Washington Post. July 6, 1983. p. D3.
  10. ^ "Five to Watch in 1984". The Washington Post. January 2, 1984. p. B4.
  11. ^ a b Owusu, Kofi. "Cable Forums Scheduled". Washington Informer. January 18, 1984. p. 3.
  12. ^ Owusu, Kofi. "Rolark Chairs Cable TV Forum". Washington Informer. February 22, 1984. p. 55.
  13. ^ Smith, Philip. "Firm Sues Over D.C. Cable Pact: Injunction Is Sought to Block Franchise Agreement". The Washington Post. November 21, 1984. p. B3.
  14. ^ Slacum, Marcia. "D.C. Council Votes Cable TV Award to District Cablevision: D.C. Council Votes Cable TV Franchise Award". The Washington Post. December 5, 1984. p. A1.
  15. ^ a b Jackson, Kirk. "Attorney Lightfoot Will Oppose Kane". Washington Informer. June 04, 1986. p. 1.
  16. ^ a b c d Brown, Oswald T. "Hot Race Now Seen For At-Large Seat". Washington Informer. June 11, 1986. p. 1.
  17. ^ a b Brown, Oswald T. "Forty-One Enter Field For Primary Elections". Washington Informer. July 16, 1986. p. 1.
  18. ^ Sherwood, Tom; Evans, Sandra. "Spaulding Unseated In D.C. Council Race: Ward 5 Incumbent Defeated by Thomas". The Washington Post. September 10, 1986. p. A21.
  19. ^ Jackson, Kirk. "Mayor Barry Easily Wins A Third Term". Washington Informer. November 12, 1986. p. 1.
  20. ^ Sherwood, Tom. "Endorsing Season Warms Up". The Washington Post. January 21, 1988. p. J1.
  21. ^ a b Noble, Andrea. "Minority parties see power grab for D.C. vote". The Washington Times. April 16, 2014. Archived from the original on April 19, 2014.
  22. ^ Sherwood, Tom. "John Ray Launches Reelection Bid: D.C. Council Member Attacks Illicit Drug Use, Racial Hostility". The Washington Post. May 15, 1988. p. D7.
  23. ^ Sherwood, Tom. "Barry Ally's Moves Leave D.C. Democrats Wondering What's Next". The Washington Post. May 26, 1988. p. DC1.
  24. ^ Knight, Athelia. "Schwartz To Retire From Council: Exit Reshapes Race For At-Large Seat: Schwartz Cites Personal Tragedies". The Washington Post. June 3, 1988. p. B1.
  25. ^ a b Horwitz, Sari. "Taxi Panel Spokesman to Seek D.C. Council Seat". The Washington Post. June 6, 1988. p. D2.
  26. ^ Knight, Athelia. "Lockridge Declares For D.C. Council Seat". The Washington Post. June 7, 1988. p. B5.
  27. ^ Knight, Athelia; Fisher, Marc. "Lockridge Fans D.C. Political Flames: Bid for Council Seat Adds Controversy to At-Large, Ward 4 Races". The Washington Post. June 8, 1988. p. B3.
  28. ^ Knight, Athelia. "Jerry Moore Seeks Council Comeback". The Washington Post. June 17, 1988. p. B1.
  29. ^ Knight, Athelia. "AFL-CIO Group Endorses Cropp for D.C. Council: 'Good Track Record' Gets Nod Over Jarvis". The Washington Post. July 27, 1988. p. B5.
  30. ^ Sherwood, Tom. "Resident To View NW Plan: Time to Move? Court Cases Move Action Away From District Building". The Washington Post. October 6, 1988. p. DC1.
  31. ^ "District of Columbia Results". The Washington Post. November 9, 1988. p. A38.
  32. ^ Sherwood, Tom. "Unity Emphasized At Inauguration Of D.C. Council". The Washington Post. January 3, 1989. p. D1.
  33. ^ a b c Abramowitz, Michael; Morin, Richard. "D.C.'s Lucrative Loophole: Campaign Contributors Able to Skirt Limits". The Washington Post. June 18, 1990. p. A1.
  34. ^ Richardson, Lynda. "Hall Hopes To Salvage Pay Raises: D.C. School Funding Debated at Hearing". The Washington Post. March 5, 1991. p. C3.
  35. ^ Sanchez, Rene. "Cash-Pinched D.C. Council Kills 1 Tax, Raises Another: Ward 6 Feud Also Settled in Brazil's Favor". The Washington Post. June 5, 1991. p. D1.
  36. ^ Sanchez, Rene. "Dixon Nominee Under Fire". The Washington Post. June 6, 1991. p. D3.
  37. ^ Henderson, Nell; Sanchez, Rene. "D.C. Council Backs Dixon On Firings: Management Cuts To Begin in October Under Compromise". The Washington Post. July 3, 1991. p. A1.
  38. ^ a b Sanchez, Rene. "14% Raise Backed for D.C. Police; Dixon to Challenge Arbitration Ruling". The Washington Post. September 11, 1991. p. D1.
  39. ^ a b Sanchez, Rene. "Budgetary `Heresy'". The Washington Post. March 7, 1991. p. J2.
  40. ^ a b "Parole Board Priorities". The Washington Post. March 19, 1991. p. A18.
  41. ^ Henderson, Nell. "In District's Budget, Employment Is Job 1". The Washington Post. April 4, 1991. p. J3.
  42. ^ a b c French, Mary Ann; Sanchez, Rene. "Mt. Pleasant Merchants May Get Aid: District Bill Offers Relief From Damage". The Washington Post. June 4, 1991. p. C3.
  43. ^ "Historical Elected Officials: At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia". District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. Retrieved on July 25, 2008. Archived from the original on July 23, 2008.
  44. ^ Shabazz, Malik. "Independents still hopeful in City Council race". Afro-American Red Star. October 24, 1992. p. A1.
  45. ^ Henderson, Nell. "Election 1992: District: D.C. Vote Favors the Familiar". The Washington Post. November 4, 1992. p. EA35.
  46. ^ a b "District of Columbia General Election: Final and Complete Election Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. November 3, 1992.
  47. ^ Vassell, Olive. "Lightfoot begins meetings on school/council merger". Afro-American Red Star. July 3, 1993. p. A1.
  48. ^ a b Anquoe, Bunty. "'Redskins' on the run: Bill seeking name change". Indian Country Today (Oneida Indian Nation). August 4, 1993. A1.
  49. ^ Tillman, Leroy. "Former Mayor Marion Barry continues political comeback". Los Angeles Sentinel. September 22, 1994. p. A4.
  50. ^ a b Flynn, Adrianne. "Lightfoot decides to quit mayor's race". The Washington Times. September 16, 1994.
  51. ^ Woodlee, Yolanda; Morin, Richard. "Racial Split Over Barry Runs Deep; In Poll of D.C. Voters, Views Differ Starkly". The Washington Post. October 2, 1994. p. A1.
  52. ^ a b Mills, Mike. "D.C. Council Weighs Phone Rivalry; Bell Atlantic Says Ray-Lightfoot Legislation Would Harm Service". The Washington Post. June 23, 1995. p. B2.
  53. ^ a b Brown, Janice Frink. "Curfew! 17 and under". Afro-American Red Star. June 24, 1995. p. A1.
  54. ^ Peabody, Alvin. "John Ray Bows Out After 17-Year Tenure". Washington Informer. January 31, 1996. p. 3.
  55. ^ "No Time for a Wimpy Council". The Washington Post. February 21, 1996. p. A18.
  56. ^ a b c Segal, David. "Forecast for the District: A Much Bigger Crowd at the Bar". The Washington Post. February 25, 1997. p. D1, D3.
  57. ^ Nakamura, David; Woodlee, Yolanda. "Fenty Joins Baseball Stadium's Fans. The Washington Post. January 18, 2007. p. T2.
  58. ^ Nakamura, David; Alexander, Keith L. "Sworn In as Mayor, Fenty Vows 'Greatness' for District, Schools". The Washington Post. January 4, 2007. p. B1.
  59. ^ Stewart, Nikita. "Fenty Blows Past 2006 Fundraising Record". The Washington Post. March 12, 2010. p. B2.
  60. ^ Nirappil, Fenit. "Education scandals place election year spotlight on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser". The Washington Post. February 24, 2018. [1].
  61. ^ "District of Columbia Results". The Washington Post. November 10, 1988. p. D10.
Council of the District of Columbia
Preceded by
Carol Schwartz
At-Large Member, Council of the District of Columbia
Succeeded by
Carol Schwartz