Jim Graham, 71, Former D.C. Council Member, Dies

Jim Graham
Jim Graham (D.B. King via Wikimedia Commons)

Former D.C. Councilman Jim Graham, a longtime advocate for the LGBT community, has died, the D.C. Council said Thursday. He was 71.

Graham, a Democrat who represented Ward 1, served on the council from 1999 to his 2014 loss in the Democratic primary to Brianne K. Nadeau.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said Graham “left our city a better place.”

“Jim and I joined the council in the same year; we were classmates,” Mendelson said. “Jim had a strong commitment to the District that predated his election to the council. His work at Whitman Walker Clinic in the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic was widely and highly regarded.

“On the council, Jim worked especially hard on issues like homelessness, juvenile justice, diversity, and public transportation,” Mendelson said. “The District thanks him for his long public service and many accomplishments.”

Words of condolences poured in from around the city Thursday as news of Graham’s death spread.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said Graham “embodied D.C. values.”

“Jim was a fierce champion for Ward 1 and led the way in fighting to preserve and protect affordable housing in booming neighborhoods,” Bowser said. “He was also a tireless advocate for LBGTQ rights and access to health care. Jim welcomed all neighbors and showed us that DC’s diversity alone does not make us great, but instead our embrace and celebration of our diversity does.”

Ward 8 Council member and former Mayor Vincent Gray echoed the mayor’s sentiments, calling Graham “hardworking, brilliant, unique, always fascinating and a very skilled, thoughtful legislator.”

“Jim’s deep commitment to serving and helping people cannot be overstated,” he said. “Before being elected to the Council, Jim had already made his mark as a leader. As executive director of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, Jim was instrumental in raising awareness and combating the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1990s.

“Our city is better because of Jim Graham’s efforts. I will miss him,” Gray said.

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