D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman said she wants District voters to reelect her on Nov. 8 so she can continue helping people thrive and be productive in the city.
“I would like to serve another term because I have a lot more to accomplish and I am eager to do it,” Silverman said. “I am eager to work on policies that make this city a better place for families in regards to education, housing and public safety.”
Silverman hopes to serve a third, four-year term on the council. A legislator since 2015, the former Washington City Paper and Washington Post journalist has established herself as a progressive voice on the council who asks probing questions regarding policies of the Bowser administration and has been known to challenge the leadership of the legislative body itself.
In order to be successful, Silverman, an independent, must be one of the two top recipients of votes in the Nov. 8 general election in a field of 11 candidates which includes Democratic nominee Council member Anita Bonds and new independent candidate Council member Kenyan McDuffie.
Silverman said times have changed in the city since she took the oath of office for the second time in 2019.
“This is a challenging time for our city,” she said. “COVID has changed our habits as a city and its revenue stream. It has become clear by looking at the office vacancies in downtown that we will never return to the five-days-a-week work schedule where people traveled here to their jobs. A lot of people are working at home and not downtown and that has impacted our restaurants.”
Silverman said as a result of the dearth of people coming to downtown to work, “employers don’t need as much space to conduct their business.”
“The challenge is how we pivot to not having people come downtown during the weekdays and making that work,” she said. “It will be a challenge but from a policy standpoint it is exciting to contemplate.”
Silverman spoke of her awareness that some business leaders and entrepreneurs won’t support her candidacy because of legislation she has supported.
“I am aware that some businesses didn’t like the paid family leave policy I advocated,” said Silverman, talking about the law that mandates District employers allocate weeks for employees to take care of personal and family matters without losing their jobs and pay. “But the paid family leave policy is working. It is working for families, workers and employees.”
Silverman said if reelected she will continue to advocate for small businesses.
“I would like to get the DCRA [Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs] to work for small businesses,” she said. “I would like for the Office of Tax and Revenue to work for small businesses.”
She said housing for low-income residents should be protected and has shown interest in the concept of social housing. Social housing serves low- and middle-income people who are employed and the units are managed by either the government or housing associations.
“There will be a hearing on social housing this fall,” she said. “I am definitely open to making this city more affordable. I am still learning more about social housing. This may be needed when there are two-bedroom apartments costing $3,600 a month on the market. Plus, the Black family median income is significantly lower than the white family media income and we don’t want people leaving the city.”
Silverman recently led the redistricting of the city’s ward and advisory neighborhood commission boundaries which takes place once every 10 years based on the latest census data. She said the process overall emerged as successful in terms of her goal of making sure “everyone was listened to.”
Tiffany Brown, who serves as an advisory neighborhood commissioner for single-member district 7B02 in Ward 7, said she does not support Silverman’s reelection efforts.
“We need fresh blood on the council and I will be voting for Karim Marshall,” Brown said.
Brown said she didn’t approve of how Silverman handled redistricting in her ward and said she unnecessarily intervened in the process.
But while Brown has rejected Silverman’s reelection, Brian K. Thompson, the outgoing commissioner for single-member district 8A03 in Ward 8, said he will cast his ballot for the lawmaker.
“I found Elissa to be fair, decent and straightforward,” said Thompson, who chaired Ward 8’s commissioner redistricting. “I like the fact that she advocates for good things such as paid family leave and I think she has earned another term on the council.”