Later this year, in December, the City will mark the 46th anniversary of the D.C. Home Rule Act which granted District residents the right to vote for a mayor, 13 members to the D.C. City Council and advisory neighborhood commissioners, all of whom would oversee a municipality with local governing powers previously held by Congress.
It was a long, hard-fought battle — one that Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans knows well. Elected in 1991, he’s the longest, continuously serving member of the D.C. Council and only the second member to represent Ward 2 — a seat previously held by the late John H. Wilson for whom the Wilson Building is named.
Evans, who frequently speaks of his longevity on the council with jocularity, has achieved a tenure of invaluable merit as newcomers to both the council and District win seats and initiate policies that his institutional knowledge has often shaped. He has been elected to the Council seven times and has witnessed the trials and tribulations of his colleagues who have endured investigations, reprimands, censorship, criminal convictions and time spent in jail including the late Mayor Marion S. Barry, former Chairman Kwame Brown, Michael Brown (D-At-Large), the late Jim Graham (R-Ward 1), Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) and former Mayor Vincent Gray.
But today, Evans finds himself in the spotlight, enveloped in a scandal related to ethics violations and conflicts of interest. There’s been ongoing scuttlebutt about Evans and ethics violations for years but voters expressed angst because the spotlight always hovered on someone else. Now that he has resigned as chair of the Metro Board of Directors and with his home being raided last week by the FBI, Evan’s colleagues on the council have vowed to launch an ethics investigation of their own and soon strip him of his chairmanship of the Finance Committee.
On social media, comments conclude “It’s about time.”
The good news is the council has stood firm, allowing zero tolerance for improper actions initiated by its members. They have acted swiftly because they believe D.C. voters expect nothing less. Still, with nearly 30 years of service to the District, it’s sad to see Evans go out like this.