Jack Evans Report: Challenges for 2015

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Congratulations to Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser! After a spirited race, Mayor-elect Bowser is now building her team to address the issues facing our city. I also want to congratulate the individuals who will join me on the District Council for the next four years. Re-elected were chairman Phil Mendelson and councilmembers Anita Bonds, Mary Cheh and Kenyan McDuffie. We will be joined by Elissa Silverman (At-Large), Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) and Charles Allen (Ward 6).

Four years ago, I wrote to you about the challenges facing our incoming elected officials in the face of an anemic recovery from the recession. Today, our city is facing a very different set of challenges and opportunities to continue to move the city forward. Among them are:

Education. We have made progress in the past few years to improve our school system, but education remains the most important issue for our city. Our biggest challenge is the ability to teach all students regardless of socio-economic condition, neighborhood, learning ability or assistance at home. We must continue to ensure that every neighborhood has excellent schools to meet the needs of our children. It’s important to remember that the quality of our school system has far-reaching effects, including whether families will stay in the District, employers locate here and create jobs, and we end the “school-to-prison” pipeline.

Homelessness. Helping our homeless residents this winter will be the first big test of Mayor-elect Bowser’s administration and the transition from Mayor Gray to Bowser. I’ve met with Mayor Gray and advocacy organizations to make plans for the 800 families that will need shelter this winter. Finding safe accommodations for these families is the immediate concern, but we need to do more to solve homelessness in the District, including funding the Housing Production Trust Fund to ensure affordable housing continues to be available in the District.

Right-Sizing City Services. Most projections expect that the city will grow by more than 100,000 people in the next 25 years. Those new residents create challenges and opportunities that the city must begin planning for now. This includes making investments in our police force, fire and EMS department, and our trash, recycling and litter collection resources. Additionally, we will need to evaluate our power and sewer infrastructure to prevent undue strain on those systems in the years ahead.

Statehood and Self-Determination. The national election results were a setback for our statehood efforts. However, one aspect of self-determination on which we should redouble our efforts is local control of land in the District. From the Georgetown Waterfront to Franklin Square to Pennsylvania Avenue, local control of parks and roads in the District is a win-win for the District and Federal governments. The Republican Congress can shrink the size of the Federal Government, and the District can more appropriately utilize those spaces for city residents.

I also want to congratulate the newly elected and re-elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners here in our own ANC 2E. We’ll continue to have the valuable guidance of Ed Solomon, Ron Lewis, Jeff Jones, Bill Starrels, and Tom Birch, as well as the fresh perspective of Monica Roache. I look forward to continuing to work with the ANC to help make our neighborhood a great place to live.

Jack Evans is the Ward 2 Councilmember, representing Georgetown since 1991.

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