D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson announced yesterday that she will run for council chairman, the city's second-highest elected office.
Patterson, whose Ward 3 district includes much of upper Northwest, said she will run on the legislative track record she has accumulated over her three terms on the council.
"I am the best person for the job," Patterson said. "My leadership for the last 111/2 years is what I will be talking about with residents."
Patterson (D) joined council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) as an official candidate. She filed the forms with the Office of Campaign Finance on Thursday.
Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) is giving up her seat to run for mayor. The chairman is elected citywide and has broad power over legislation and committee assignments.
Patterson has carved out a reputation on the council as a skilled legislator and a watchdog over city departments. But past challengers have criticized her by saying she favors legislation over the routine constituent work and neighborhood problem-solving that normally consume ward council members' time and energy.
As chairman of the judiciary committee, she stepped up oversight of the police department, resulting in a law that restricts arrests of protesters who have not committed crimes. She was also the main advocate behind an effort to ban the transportation of hazardous materials across the city.
Patterson, 57, was first elected to the council in 1994, upsetting incumbent James E. Nathanson.
She said she will work hard over the next year to gain support across the city by emphasizing her work on education, public safety, emergency preparedness and city services. She is chairman of the education committee.
Evans welcomed Patterson to the race, praising her as a "great council member."
Evans said he "welcomes any and all opponents and challengers. It helps to make for a good, healthy debate in the city."
Evans, whose management of a political action committee is under review by the Office of Campaign Finance, said he was still in the race for chairman. Patterson said the timing of her announcement was not related to Evans's troubles, which were reported this week by The Washington Post.
"We're waiting for the results of the audit from campaign finance," Evans said. "I'm confident the office will find our filings and everything in accord with District law."
Evans, a friend and legislative ally of Patterson, represents Georgetown, downtown, Dupont Circle and Shaw. He abandoned a mayoral bid this year to focus on running for chairman.
Patterson and Evans say they expect the field to grow before September's Democratic primary.
Others considering a run for chairman include council members Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1).
Evans was reelected last year to a four-year term and has that to fall back on if his bid for chairman fails. Patterson, however, has to choose between running for reelection to her Ward 3 seat or run for chairman.
Sam Brooks, who ran unsuccessfully last year for an at-large seat, said yesterday that he plans to file for the Ward 3 seat Monday. Others are expected to follow.