Patrick Kennedy, former campaign co-chair to Washington, D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), announced April 8 that he will be opposing Evans in the 2020 D.C. Council elections following recent ethical scandals involving Evans.
Evans was reprimanded by a March 19 council vote after using his government email to solicit business deals and offering to use his influence to help clients. D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) reduced some of the responsibilities Evans holds as chair of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, such as control over tax policies and his oversight over the city’s sports and events authority, but did not strip him of his position as chair of the committee.
The federal grand jury is investigating Evans because of legislation he promoted in 2016 that would have benefitted a digital sign company, Digi Outdoor Media, which Evans had previously purchased stock from a month earlier, according to The Washington Post.
Evans, the District’s longest-serving councilmember, lacks the fresh perspective needed to address the issues that D.C. currently faces, according to Kennedy, who is currently serving his fourth term as a neighborhood commissioner in D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood.
“As I have said, I think even aside from the ethics issues, that Jack’s sensibilities and policy preferences just aren’t a good fit for the District as it exists today and that this election is an opportunity to discuss doing things differently,” Kennedy wrote in an April 9 tweet.
Kennedy plans to focus his campaign on a progressive platform that extends beyond criticizing Evans. He aims to highlight issues of affordable housing and transportation, including plans for a network of protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes.
The candidate also plans to receive funds through the new public financing program, a program facilitated by the government to offer candidates who swear off large corporate contributions with matched funds for each small public donation those candidates receive, according to DCist.
In addition to Kennedy, others are considering running against Evans, who previously ran unopposed in the 2016 election. However, some officials are skeptical of the potential success of any opposing campaign because of Evans’ 28-year run as D.C. councilmember, according to The Washington Post.
Although former incumbents involved in scandals have been ousted by newcomers in the past, including the concession of former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D), who served from 2011 to 2015, to Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), it would take more recent allegations to garner enough push for a new candidate to eliminate Evans, according to DCist.
In 2014, former D.C. Medicaid contractor Jeffrey Thompson pled guilty to felony charges for illegal contributions to Gray’s campaign. Bowser received 44.2 percent of the vote in the 2014 Democratic primary, defeating Gray in an election that had the lowest voter turnout in 30 years.
There has already been a push from D.C. activists to recall Evans from his post. However, the campaign was halted by the D.C. Board of Elections on April 3 as a result of technical mistakes regarding paperwork that needed to be filed in order to collect signatures for a forced recall, according to The Washington Post.