Mayoral race takes shape with Evans’ announcement

Media Credit: Corey Zagone | Hatchet Photographer

Mayoral candidate Jack Evans announces his candidacy Saturday, June 8. Evans has served as the Ward 2 Councilmember since 1996 and previously ran for mayor in 1998, coming in third place with 10 percent of the vote.

Jack Evans, a D.C. Council stalwart who represents neighborhoods like Foggy Bottom, officially announced his candidacy for mayor June 8, nearly completing the political picture for the District’s top office.

Evans, a Ward 2 D.C. Council member, said he would look to make D.C. “one of the greatest cities in the world,” and emphasized the diversity of the city and its need for continued growth in a speech at a 14th Street restaurant.

In front of about 100 supporters, Evans pledged to support the city’s different populations and small businesses by implementing a school-to-career pathway program to create jobs in the District’s key industries.

Evans, 59, said in a phone interview June 5 that his campaign will also focus on restructuring the education system, which has been marked by a growth of charter schools in recent years, leading to public school closures and mergers across the city. He also emphasized job growth, especially in D.C.’s low-income neighborhoods.

“People in many parts of the city have jobs, many don’t. Creation of jobs, and creating an educational structure that educates our residents for the jobs that exist, is really important,” he said.

Evans, who is not originally from the District, referred to the city as a “tapestry,” and first discussed the accomplishments of African-Americans, the city’s largest racial group. If elected, Evans will be the city’s first white mayor since Congress gave it home rule in 1973.

Peter Sacco, a junior who serves on the Advisory Neighborhood Council, said Evans will have a tough campaign, but that his long career of successful policy-making and finance acumen will help him.

“He was instrumental in passing marriage equality in the District, as well as working to increase the District’s bond rating to AA through his work as chair of the committee on finance and revenue,” Sacco said.

In March, Standard & Poor’s upgraded the District’s credit rating from A+ to AA-. The District reported a $140 million surplus at the beginning of fiscal year 2013.

The city’s longest-serving council member and a Democrat, Evans was first elected in 1991, and ran unopposed for his seat last fall. He could have difficulty garnering support outside of his own ward, especially when Muriel Bowser, a council member also running for mayor, represents Ward 4, the part of the city most dense with voters.

Evans said gathering supporters outside Wards 2 and 3 could be difficult, but was confident that his many years of experience would help.

“Having been around 22 years, people know who I am and think I’m doing a good job,” he said.

Ward 6 D.C. Council member Tommy Wells also announced his mayoral bid last month. Incumbent Vincent Gray has not yet announced whether he will run, but he hinted he may run when he criticized Bowser’s campaign in April.

During his first term, Gray came under fire for allegedly paying officials above the legal limit, and for paying a former mayoral candidate to attack his opponent. Several members of the mayor’s 2010 campaign team admitted to running a shadow campaign to help get him elected.

Junior Daniel Egel-Weiss, an Evans supporter, said his efforts to develop parts of the city, such as Chinatown, could help attract support.

“He built the Verizon Center, and then that whole area, it just exploded right after that,” he said. “He’s just been great in revitalizing a lot of neighborhoods in the District.”

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