D.C. Council member Jack Evans was formally recommended Tuesday to be Metro’s next board chairman, virtually ensuring that he will take over leadership of the top governing body of the troubled transit system, board members said.
Evans’s ascension to the chairmanship could lead to significant restructuring of how Metro operates. He has been a leader of a faction on the board that pressed for a financial turnaround expert to be the next general manager. Board members also noted that he and others have said the 16-member board is too large.
If selected chairman, Evans has said, he will seek to be the public face of a campaign to press the federal government to give Metro more money. His argument would be that the government should pay more because the system transports so many federal employees to and from work each day.
In a telephone conference call Tuesday, the board’s governance committee selected Evans as chairman in the slate of leaders it will submit to the full board for its next regular meeting, board members said. That meeting will be Thursday.
The board members spoke on condition of anonymity because the selection process is supposed to be confidential. But four board members said they viewed Evans’s election as what one called “a done deal.”
Another board member was more cautious, saying, “Nothing’s ever done until it’s done with this group. Thursday, we’ll find out for sure.”
Evans, who declined to comment, has been campaigning openly for the job since the current chairman, Mortimer L. Downey, decided not to seek reelection. Downey chose to step down partly because of his frustrations over the deep divisions on the board, which delayed selection of a new general manager for more than a year.
In November, the board finally selected Paul J. Wiedefeld, a former chief executive of Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, as its general manager.
The Metro board’s governance committee also nominated Jim Corcoran, president of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, to be a vice chairman.
He was seen as the leading candidate to be chairman until he unexpectedly said on Jan. 14 that he would not allow himself to be considered for the job. Corcoran said he couldn’t spare the time to serve as chairman because of his obligations as president of the chamber.
His withdrawal aroused concern among some board members, who viewed him as someone in a good position to unite the board. Evans, according to some members, was too closely identified with a faction that includes District and Maryland members who were strongly critical of how the board operated under Downey.
Corcoran declined to comment about the recommendation that he become a vice chairman.
Evans, 62, is a veteran member of the D.C. Council, representing Ward 2, which includes Georgetown. A Democrat, he is the longtime chair of the council’s finance committee and has twice run unsuccessfully for mayor.
Evans began his current stint on Metro’s board in January 2015, when he was selected by the council as its principal representative. He also served on the Metro board from 1992 to 1999 and was chairman in 1994 and 1997.