After 8 Years, Incumbent Faces Challenge in Primary
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
D.C. Council member Jack Evans has an unofficial campaign slogan in his reelection bid: "I'm running on youth and energy."
After he says it, he almost always laughs.
Evans, 54, won the Ward 2 seat on the council more than 17 years ago, making the Democrat one of the longest-serving members. His colleagues credit him with being one of the most knowledgeable members, serving as chairman pro tem and heading the influential Committee on Finance and Revenue.
It is the kind of longevity that can make an incumbent comfortable while simultaneously leave him open to a young and ambitious opponent, such as lawyer Cary Silverman. He is Evans's first challenger in a primary, scheduled for Sept. 9, in eight years.
Silverman, 32, is president of the Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association. He also is a scrapper, as he showed last week in a debate with Evans. The incumbent, who has more endorsements than does Silverman, also has more in campaign funds, $500,000, to Silverman's $40,000.
Silverman questions how Evans can hold down a full-time job as a lawyer while being a public servant, why he has pushed big-ticket, taxpayer-funded projects, such as Nationals Park, and why he was unable to help stop the $50 million embezzlement from the Office of Tax and Revenue. Evans oversees the office as chairman of the finance committee.
"People say he has experience," Silverman said in an interview. "The record is there are massive giveaways and a lack of oversight."
Observers said, however, that Evans has lasted in office because many residents respect him as a council leader and because he knows how to adapt to political circumstances. He hit back at Silverman at the debate sponsored by the Dupont Circle Citizens Association. Evans, a former candidate for mayor, said he has a lot to offer the city during its period of rapid change: "Experience."
He defends his record and praises staff members for helping him serve as a council member and as a consultant at his law firm while being a single father to 11-year-old triplets. Evans is a widower who lives in Georgetown.
Evans talks about how Verizon Center, which he championed a decade ago, has been an economic catalyst for Ward 2, and he said he has not forgotten ward projects, including recently renovated recreation centers and plans to refurbish neighborhood libraries.
Northwest's Ward 2 is the city's second-most affluent ward, behind Ward 3. It has diverse neighborhoods, including tony Georgetown, gay-friendly Dupont Circle, Penn Quarter downtown and pockets of low-income communities, such as those in Shaw.
The ward, which includes downtown Washington, has served as the hub of the city's revival. Problems remain, though, especially in Shaw, where Evans has tried to combat crime.