Evans Makes It Official: He’s Running for Mayor

And now there are three.

Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans, the longest serving member of the District Council and a Georgetown resident, made it official by announcing his candidacy for Mayor of Washington, D.C., way ahead of the Democratic primary on April 1, 2014. Evans spoke in front of the 14th Street entrance of the new Le Diplomate restaurant, a hot new place on a hot site very characteristic of the city’s booming reputation as an urban hot spot.

Evans had been dropping hints and pretty positive signs that he would be running for some time now—his talk at the Downtown Business Improvement District’s state of downtown report several weeks ago sounded very much like a campaign speech touting the many project’s and development game changers of which he has been a part: the Verizon Center, the new Washington Convention Center, the coming of the Washington Nationals baseball team to the District, legislation creating business improvement districts and more.

In announcing his candidacy, Evans sounded a richer theme than merely being a high profile mover and backer of major developments, of being a finance and numbers wiz on the council as chair of the finance committee, of being able to claim a large part of the credit—along with the council and three mayors—for the changing physical, demographic changes of D.C. and its budget surplus. On Saturday, surrounded by his wife Michele and other family members, he preached the gospel of inclusion mindful of what many observers still see as a divide in the city, especially as evidenced in several recent council election and the last mayoral elections.

Evans has been serving effectively as a councilmember since 1991, when then Ward 2 Councilman John Wilson moved on to become Chairman of the City Council. His first race was close, the closest in fact that Evans has had since being re-elected time and time again.

“I came to Washington from Pennsylvania a number of years ago as a young attorney,” he said. “I put down roots here, I’ve raised my children here, and have been fortunate to be able to serve this city on the city council.”

This marks the second time that Evans—who has periodically over the years mused out loud about possible runs for mayor or chairman—has run for mayor. In 1998, he entered the race in a field that included Kevin Chavous from Ward 7, at-large council member Harold Brazil, and eventually the city’s chief financial officer, the very able Anthony Williams, who wound up winning and being re-elected four years later. Evans, in spite of running a skilled campaign, finished a distant third behind Williams and Chavous. That year, Marion Barry ended his mayor-for-life status by not choosing to run again.

Now, Evans joins a field that so far includes Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser and Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells.

Wells made ethics an emphatic part of his campaign. Evan’s announcement came with the background noise of the news that former councilman Michael Brown had been charged with bribery in the wake of an FBI sting. Brown had lost a bid for re-election to an at-large seat on the council last year. He was the third council member to be indicted for wrong doings—former Ward 5 councilmember Harry Thomas, former Council Chairman Kwame Brown and now Michael Brown. All of them were considered to be talented, gifted future political leaders of the city at one time.

The big question in the mayoral race remains Mayor Vincent Gray. He hasn’t said one way or the other whether he plans to run. Gray’s 2010 campaign remains under federal investigation. As long as questions remain about the campaign, it will be difficult for the mayor to run for re-election.

All of the candidates—Evans, Bowser, Wells—were part of the city’s annual Gay Pride Parade Saturday, a boisterous, but also much changed event which has become more and more mainstream every year. It’s still an enormous amount of high-spirited fun, and a required show-up for city politicians, whether they’re running for something or not.

For Evans, who rose to prominence as an ANC commissioner from Dupont Circle and got his political start there, it turned out to be a big—and surely exhausting—day. He might have noted that while the mayor was not as yet a candidate in the field, he was part of a big and energetic “One City” contingent.

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