D.C. primary elections: Residents back incumbents, increased wages for tipped staff

Media Credit: Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

D.C. residents voted in favor of a controversial measure Tuesday bumping the minimum wage to $15 an hour for tipped workers by 2025.

Local restaurants will soon have to pay their servers and other tipped employees $15 an hour.

During the D.C. primary elections Tuesday, D.C. residents voted in favor of Initiative 77, a controversial measure bumping tipped workers’ wages from $3.33 to $15 an hour by 2025, The New York Times reported Tuesday evening. Proponents of the initiative said it would ensure all employees are paid fairly for their work and secure predictable incomes, while opponents argued changing the law would impose a financial burden on restaurant owners and force them to hike prices.

The vote was called at just about 9:30 p.m., an hour and a half after polls closed, The New York Times reported.

The measure’s passage will bring tipped workers up to speed with their non-tipped counterparts. The D.C. Council passed a law in 2013 raising the minimum wage for non-tipped workers to $15 an hour by 2020, with gradual increases between 2016 and 2020.

Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

Volunteers set up in the Precinct 3 polling station at St. Paul’s Parish ahead of the D.C. primary elections Tuesday.

The primary race also secured multiple incumbent officials’ slots on the November general election ballot, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. She earned about 83 percent of the Democratic vote, defeating competitors James Butler, a member of the Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commission, and Ernest Johnson, a D.C.-based real estate consultant, The Times reported.

Phil Mendelson, a Democrat and the incumbent D.C. Council chairman, raked in about 63 percent of votes to defeat his sole opponent, Ed Lazere, the former director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. Mendelson has served as the Council’s chairman for six years and has been a member of the body since 1998.

Anita Bonds, the incumbent at-large Council member, won the Democratic bid for the seat with about 53 percent of votes, WTOP reported. Bonds has served on the Council since 2012.

Bonds’ opponents – Jeremiah Lowery, a longtime climate and health care activist, and Marcus Goodwin, an associate at a real estate development company – both received about 24 percent of the votes, according to WTOP.

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