To pitch economic development plan, Jack Evans goes to Muriel Bowser’s back yard


Evans launched his campaign in June along 14th Street NW, which he takes credit for transforming into “the pulse of the city.” (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

If you want proof Muriel Bowser’s recent success — securing The Washington Post’s endorsement and a clear second-place finish in a new poll — are making her fellow challengers to Mayor Vincent C. Gray sweat, look no further: Jack Evans headed to Bowser’s Ward 4 on Wednesday to highlight his economic development agenda and take a few potshots at his fellow D.C. Council member’s record.

Evans appeared on Kennedy Street NW, a retail corridor in Petworth that has long been in need of reinvestment. He suggested, in remarks prepared for delivery, that its shabby state is a testament to Bowser’s fecklessness. Had he been the ward’s council member, he further suggested, Kennedy Street and upper Georgia Avenue NW would more resemble the burgeoning corridors along 14th Street NW and Seventh Street NW in his own ward.

“To the people who say Muriel Bowser should be mayor, look around,” he said in the prepared remarks. “Look at the Kennedy Street corridor and make your own judgment about whether she is prepared to create jobs, to be our mayor. A once-great neighborhood and dozens of struggling businesses right here are still waiting for revitalization more than six years after Ms. Bowser joined the D.C. Council.”

Evans said he would bring “a plan, expertise, and unrelenting determination in implementation.” The elements of that plan include creating new business improvement districts, expanding career-focused education in public schools, creating new financing vehicles for grocery stores, promoting tourism, and cutting red tape at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Perhaps worthy of note: Kennedy Street is significantly farther from downtown, the economic engine of the city, than the Ward 2 corridors Evans touts. And Evans spent nearly 10 years on the council before the 14th Street corridor started revitalizing, with the opening of the Whole Foods on P Street NW in late 2000. (It took another decade for the corridor to become the restaurant-and-condo-flecked thoroughfare it is today.)

Bowser’s campaign referred comment to her council office, who replied thusly: “Today’s election year stunt underscores Mr. Evans’s lack of knowledge about neighborhoods outside of Georgetown,” said spokesman Bryan Lozano. “But, we welcome Jack’s newfound interest in Ward 4 and look forward to working with him.”

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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Mike DeBonis · February 26, 2014