WASHINGTON (AP) — David Grosso defeated D.C. Councilmember Michael A. Brown Tuesday, becoming the first challenger to unseat a sitting councilmember since 2004.
Grosso, 42, a former legislative staffer to Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., ran as a reform-minded candidate and hammered Brown over his personal financial problems. Virtually unknown when he launched his campaign, he raised an impressive $157,000 and tallied a series of key endorsements.
“We beat all the odds in this one,” Grosso said shortly after his victory became official. “Nobody thought we could do it.”
Brown, first elected in 2008, touted his record on jobs, affordable housing and preserving the social safety net. He is the son of the late former Commerce secretary Ronald Brown.
Both are left-leaning independents and ran for an at-large seat reserved for members of non-majority parties. Two at-large seats were being contested, and the only Democratic candidate on the at-large ballot, Councilmember Vincent Orange, was re-elected easily.
The 13-member council serves the functions of a state, county and municipal legislature. Two members resigned this year after pleading guilty to felonies, but despite widespread dissatisfaction win the council, incumbents historically have little trouble holding onto their seats.
For Brown, though, it was a nightmarish campaign season. Grosso called him unfit to serve because of his failure to pay his taxes, mortgage and rent on time.
In September, Brown revealed that more than $113,000 had gone missing from his campaign account earlier in the summer — the entire balance at the time. Brown said he was a victim of theft and fired his treasurer. Police are investigating, but no charges have been filed.
Brown’s campaign spokesman said he was unavailable for comment Tuesday night.
Grosso, who said his immediate goals were stronger ethics reform and improving the district’s public schools and community college, ran an energetic campaign. Andrea Carr, a 40-year-old stay-at-home mom who lives in the district’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, said he secured her vote in person.
“I met Grosso,” she said. “I liked what he stood for. He was very genuine.”