A group leading the push for Washington, D.C., to hold a recall election for Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans (D) submitted 5,588 signatures in favor to the Board of Elections on Nov. 18.
Ward 2 Citizens Recall is a group of local residents campaigning for a special recall election that would ask Ward 2 voters whether or not to remove Evans from office, following numerous ethics complaints against the councilmember.
The Board of Elections has 30 days to trigger a special election if it verifies that the petition was signed by 10% of registered Ward 2 voters. The petition needed 4,949 votes, according to the Oct. 15 voter registration total, and it exceeded this threshold.
Ward 2 Citizens Recall described the reasons for its petition in a recall statement submitted to the Board of Elections April 12, citing the ongoing federal investigation into Evans’ numerous ethics violations, and began its petition campaign May 18.
Nine of Evans’ 12 fellow councilmembers have called for his resignation after a third-party law firm released a report Nov. 4 detailing 11 ethics violations by Evans since 2014.
“While Councilmember Jack Evans has been asked to resign by most of his colleagues on the DC Council, it will be his constituents who have the final say,” Recall Campaign Chairman Adam Eidinger said in a Nov. 18 news release.
The law firm O’Melveny and Myers independently investigated Evans on behalf of the council. Evans has been accused of corruption, specifically by using his council position to benefit the interests of clients of his consulting company since the spring of 2018.
Six in 10 D.C. residents believe Evans should resign, according to a poll by The Washington Post. If voters remove Evans from office, he would be the first member of D.C. Council to be removed since the passage of the Home Rule Act in 1973.
Some Ward 2 constituents expressed opposition to Evans’ removal in a Nov. 19 letter on behalf of Evans entitled “The Jack We Know.” The over 20 Ward 2 signatories urge the D.C. Council not to remove Evans from office, claiming that doing so would rob residents of their elected voice, according to the letter.
“What runs throughout Jack’s long service as a Councilmember is his commitment to the residents of Ward 2 and, indeed, the District of Columbia, whether responding to their needs and requests or foreseeing structural ways to create the environment for a vibrant economy serving the public good,” they wrote.
Six Democrats are running to replace Evans, who has not yet declared a run for reelection. The candidates are Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Patrick Kennedy, Kishan Putta and John Fanning; former Obama administration staffer Jordan Grossman; and political newcomers Daniel Hernandez, a former Marine, and Yilin Zhang, who is active in the League of Women Voters D.C. statehood campaign.
Putta and Zhang worked over last weekend to help collect signatures in support of the petition, according to Ward 2 Citizens Recall.
Grossman and Putta are among those who signed the petition. A recall vote is far overdue, according to Grossman.
“I signed the recall petition because it’s long past time for Jack Evans to be removed from office. Ward 2 deserves a councilmember focused on fighting for a more equitable and inclusive city, not selling his office to paying clients,” Grossman wrote, who plans to run in the special election if Evans is recalled.
Evans’ violations should not be excused, according to Putta, who said that he decided to give his support to the recall effort following the release of the D.C. Council report. Putta joined petition gatherers at the Wisconsin Avenue Safeway and collected several signatures in support of the recall, he said.
“I agree fully that this is wrong and we deserve better. So after council report came out, I decided to join the recall effort in the last approximately two weeks,” Putta said.
Ward 2 Democratic candidates Jordan Grossman and Kishan Putta received endorsements this week as the race for the seat grows more complex.
D.C. for Democracy, a progressive grassroots organization that seeks to educate D.C. residents about campaigns, also held a meeting Nov. 14 to vote on their endorsement for the Ward 2 campaign.
While Grossman received the majority vote, 54%, he did not meet the threshold necessary for endorsement, DC4D Operations Director Kesh Ladduwahetty explained. DC4D requires a vote of 67% support to give an endorsement.
“We have left open the possibility of another vote in the future,” Ladduwahetty wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The endorsement from JUFJ and the support from DC4D are critical developments in the campaign, according to Grossman.
“Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) Campaign Fund and DC for Democracy members have made clear that our campaign to represent Ward 2 on the DC Council is the most progressive and the cleanest break from Jack Evans and his corrupt machine,” Grossman wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Putta, a commissioner on Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, received an endorsement from former U.S. Surgeon General and Ward 2 resident Vivek Murthy on Nov. 14. Murthy served as former President Barack Obama’s surgeon general but was asked to resign by President Donald Trump in 2017.
Murthy’s endorsement validates the work he has done to campaign in the neighborhood, according to Putta.
“I have admired him for years, and it was a great honor, and we are very proud of it,” Putta said in an interview with The Hoya. “We believe, as he said, this is a validation of my hard work over the years to improve our city and our ward.”