D.C. City Council member John Wilson (D-Ward 2), the often flamboyant chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee, has decided not to accept a scheduled 5 percent salary increase next month as a symbolic statement on the city's worsening budget crisis.
Wilson, who is paid $32,110 per year, said he also will forgo a pay raise of $5,390 which he will be eligible for on Jan. 2 if he wins a third term Nov. 4.
Wilson ran unopposed in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary and is heavily favored in the overwhelmingly Democratic ward to win a third term. His Republican opponent is Ann Kelsey Marshall, a 29-year-old Freelance songwriter. Wilson has raised $61,000 for his reelection bid. Ironically, the finance committee chairman would become the lowest paid member of the council if he is reelected.
Wilson's salary, along with those of other incumbent council members in 1978, was kept at $32,110 when the Merit Personnel Act was passed. The act increased salaries to $35,000 for members elected after that year. The act also provides for council members to get the same percentage increases given city workers.
Wilson announced his intention to forgo his pay raises in a heated and emotional debate at Tuesday night's council session, just before the council voted 11-to-2 against supporting a 9.1 percent pay hike for city workers.
Council Chairman Arrington Dixon, who is paid an additional $10,000 per year as head of the council, introduced the legislation guaranteeing city workers a 9.1 percent pay increase -- the same raise federal workers are scheduled to receive Oct. 1 -- if Congress made the funds available.
Wilson called the Dixon bill "allusory" since he said Congress would never pass a new allotment to fund the increased pay rise, and the 9.1 percent increase would surely mean more city layoffs next year if the city tried to fund it.
"I believe in my city and I believe in our ability to cope with and solve our financial difficulties," Wilson said. "But I also believe it is going to take some years of sacrifice to do this."