At The Downtowner, we’ve seen, watched and known Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans for a long time – about the same length of time he has served the ward, which includes Georgetown, as its representative.
That would be 22 years, ever since he won a hotly contested special election to replace John Wilson, who went on to become chairman of the District Council. We’ve seen him in good times and in bad (he was one of the steadying Council members when it went through the throes of having the city run by a control board) and in good times again.
The most recent good times are evidenced everywhere today in a city that’s growing in population by leaps and bounds, with a budget surplus and a redeveloped and resurgent downtown. We’ve also seen him experience personal joys and triumphs, and a devastating tragedy: the loss of his first wife, Noel, the mother of his three children. And we’ve watched him suffer the disappointment of losing his first mayoral bid.
Now, Evans is running again, in a Democratic primary that has been haunted by a kind of instability and unreality. The investigative cloud over Mayor Vincent Gray’s previous campaign four years ago has injected an atmosphere of unpredictability and nerves into the campaign.
Gray, of course, is running for re-election and remains a low-key leader of the pack in the polls to date, though he’s hovering around 30 percent. Just how much the federal investigation has affected the campaign can be seen in the recent big news that businessman Jeffrey Thompson agreed to a plea bargain with prosecutors, saying that Gray knew of the pre-arranged shadow campaign. This news is still rocking the campaigns looking to win the Democratic primary on April 1. If true, as it unfolds it will have a powerful impact on the Democratic primary and on the general election in November.
However that may shake out, at The Downtowner our choice is Jack Evans. Here are the reasons. They have nothing to do with the fact that Evans and his family live in Georgetown and that he’s a familiar and important presence in our village.
Without equivocation, we endorse Evans because he’s the one person who is uniquely and – we firmly believe – pragmatically qualified to preside over and run the District of Columbia government. Those 22 years of experience make him the longest-sitting member of the Council. His imprint is on almost all of the major changes that have occurred in the physical and economic rise of our city. He was a leading supporter of the convention center and bringing baseball to Washington and, it’s fair to say, had a hand in most of the development that has occurred in the city.
Evans knows – by dint of working on the Council, on its committees (especially as chair of the finance committee) and with the business community – what this city is all about in all of its aspects. He is not merely and only (as one of his rivals in the campaign has suggested) a councilman from Georgetown. While leading and representing a ward that’s one of the District’s largest and most diverse, he has a record of reaching out to all of the many communities in a city that’s changing rapidly in its racial, ethnic and overall population.
Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser has been impressive at times during the campaign. Yet for all her goals and plans, she’s remarkably short on detail and – in her seven years on the Council – light on concrete achievement except for an ethics bill. In many ways, we don’t feel that the city has had a chance to get to know her.
We think the mayor has done serious damage to himself and his reputation. In spite of the fact that he may have maintained the city’s momentum and financial soundness (with the help of councilmen like Evans), it is the kind of damage that is hard to repair in terms of trust, as polls have shown.
We do know Jack Evans, and not just because he has a lengthy track record. We’ve seen him become a mature leader over the years. Evans is the only candidate who has the experience to move forward and address the issues that prosperity can bring, including its impact on long-time residents. There isn’t anybody running who knows the city and how it works better.