“This is the city I want to lead in the future,” he said. “A city that the world looks to, not just because it’s our nation’s capital but because it’s the capital of urban renewal, of revitalization and of a new way forward.”
In remarks Saturday and in an extended interview before the announcement, Evans said his long record as an elected official makes him the best choice to lead the city.
The Georgetown resident and native of Nanticoke, Pa., is the District’s longest-serving lawmaker, having served Ward 2 as a Democrat since winning a 1991 special election. He most recently won reelection last year, running unopposed. The mayoral run is his second; in 1998, he finished a distant third in the Democratic primary, behind winner Anthony A. Williams.
As a legislator, Evans is best known for his leadership of the council’s Finance and Revenue Committee, which handles taxing and bonding measures. He has also served as chairman of the Metro board and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Evans took a leading role in securing financing for some of the city government’s highest-profile undertakings, including Nationals Park and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in addition to numerous smaller projects.
Evans, who came to Washington to work as a regulatory lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission, has also held jobs with law firms while serving as council member — most recently with Patton Boggs. He has generally declined to discuss his work there except in general terms, describing it as practicing securities law.
He has enjoyed good relations with both business and labor groups, but he has had to resist perceptions that his politics have been more attuned to the desires of the downtown business community — mainly hosted in Ward 2 — than to quality of life and other concerns of outlying neighborhoods.
Evans said his efforts — including the establishment of tax increment financing and business improvement districts as well as mid-1990s efforts to support businessman Abe Pollin’s decision to build a downtown arena — were crucial to revitalizing downtown, which in turn laid the groundwork for smaller-scale development in other neighborhoods .
He made his announcement Saturday outside the recently opened Le Diplomate bistro as passers-by jogged and walked dogs.
“The megaprojects are pretty much done,” he said in an earlier interview. “For every convention center, there’s 20 restaurants on 14th Street, all of which I have had a hand in making happen.”
Evans acknowledged one megaproject remains “on my radar screen” — the return of the Washington Redskins to the city. He has hardly been coy about his involvement in quiet efforts to lure the team away from its Prince George’s County stadium.