EDITOR’S NOTE: After press time Wednesday, March 18, Jack Evans told The Informer he will skip the June 16 special election for the Ward 2 seat on the D.C. Council, but still plans to run for the position in the June 2 Democratic primary.
Former D.C. Councilman Jack Evans, having resigned from the District’s legislative body earlier this year under the threat of expulsion, has made it clear that he wants to continue to represent Ward 2 residents, but opinions are split on whether he should.
Evans submitted his resignation from the council on Jan. 7 when it became clear that his council colleague planned to vote him off the body. However, on Jan. 17, Evans filed paperwork with the D.C. Board of Elections to run in the June 2 Democratic primary to permanently fill the seat and the June 16 special election for his replacement that will serve until the end of the year.
“I want to continue to represent the residents of Ward 2,” Evans told The Informer on March 16. “As a council member, I have performed great constituent services for my residents and I know the issues. I have in-depth understanding of the financials of the city and I have a strong record of accomplishment on the council.”
Evans, who served on the council from May 1991 until his resignation in January, holds the record as the legislative body’s longest-tenured member.
Evans has been credited for playing a legislative role in the construction of Capital One Arena in Northwest and being the primary force on the council in the building of Nationals Park in Southeast. He also served as the chief sponsor of legislation creating the District’s Earned Income Tax Credit program, a refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income working residents, particularly those with children and strongly supported legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in the city.
Evans ran unsuccessfully for mayor of the District in 1998 and 2014. As an active member of the Democratic Party, he has served as a delegate representing the District at every national convention since 1992.
In 2018, he won an election as the District’s Democratic Party committeeman, a position he presently holds.
However, Evans has had legal troubles for ethical issues. In 2019, he stepped down as chairman of Metro’s board of directors after the transit agency’s ethics committee found he violated conflict-of-interest rules.
Evans has been investigated by District officials and the council for taking payments from companies doing business before the council and Metro. A federal grand jury investigation of Evans’s business relationships culminated into an FBI raid of his home on June 21.
After reviewing the findings of a council-funded investigation, Evans’s colleagues recommended his expulsion in December 2019.
Evans said he understands that many Ward 2 residents may be wary of him serving another term but his message to them: I have learned my lesson.
“I’ve made mistakes,” Evans said. “I have apologized for those mistakes. This is a city for second chances.
“This is a forgiving city. I have made enormous contributions as a member of the council and I want to continue to do so.
“Besides, I have never been charged or convicted of anything. I think my council reprimand had more to do with politics.”
However, there are Ward 2 residents who aren’t sympathetic with Evans. Adam Eidinger, one of the leaders of The Committee to Hold Jack Evans Accountable that sought to hold a recall the council member before he resigned, adamantly opposes Evans’s reelection.
“He resigned his position because he was going to be kicked off the council,” Eidinger said. “Now, he trying to get back on the council in a crowded race of candidates and he thinks he can win with less than 25 percent of the vote. I am against that.
“Jack Evans has lost the trust of the community,” he said. “The investigations show that he used his council seat for personal gain and making money for himself and his friends.”
According to data from the D.C. Board of Elections, Evans faces seven other Democrats on June 2 and six Democrats and one Republican on June 16. Eidinger said if Evans gets a majority of votes during the primary and the special election, “I will respect the wishes of Ward 2 voters.”
Eidinger said if Evans squeaks by as the winner in both contests, he will strongly consider challenging him in the Nov. 3 general election as an independent.
Nonetheless, there are residents who stand by Evans.
“I have known Jack Evans since the late 1970s and I think he was an outstanding council member,” said Mary Eva Candon. “When he told me he wanted to run again for the council, I told him I would support him. He has apologized for what he has done and I believe him.”
Candon said Evans’s awareness of the District’s finances and his fiscal prudence “are skills that are needed now.”
“He knows how to hold projects accountable and he is good with constituent services,” Candon said.
Candon has also heard from Ward 2 residents who feel that Evans has been their council member for too long and she disagrees with their view.
“I understand that a new generation wants the chance to lead, but we don’t need that in Ward 2 now,” she said. “During these times, we need someone who knows what they are doing and Jack knows what to do.”