Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of profiles on the candidates running for D.C. mayor in 2014. Click here to read all the profiles.
The longest-serving member in the history of the D.C. Council, Jack Evans has represented Ward 2 for nearly 23 years. He was also elected treasurer of the D.C. Democratic State Committee for 11 years and spent two years as chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B in Dupont Circle.
Born in Nanticoke, Pa., Evans moved to the District in 1978 to accept a job with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Evans worked for several law firms, most recently of counsel at Patton Boggs for the past 13 years. He lives in Georgetown.
In a recent interview with WNEW D.C. Bureau Chief Matt DelSignore, Evans outlined his positions on several issues.
THOUGHTS ON GRAY
The councilmember admits he wouldn’t have entered the race if the incumbent, Vincent Gray, were not plagued by allegations of wrongdoing in his 2010 campaign: “If the mayor didn’t have any legal problems, I’d be supporting the mayor; but that’s not the reality of the situation.”
Evans feels his overall approach to governing would be similar to Gray’s, although he says he would do a few things differently, like expanding funding for the arts and libraries and replacing embattled Fire and EMS Chief Ken Ellerbe.
To increase the availability of affordable housing, Evans says he would continue support for the Housing Production Trust Fund, require affordable housing in public-private projects and extend rent control.
Evans does not favor any changes in the Height Act, which would allow for taller buildings.
DC UNITED STADIUM
The land swap involving the Reeves Center “may be a good idea, but it’s hard to understand,” Evans says. He ponders whether an outright sale of the Reeves Center would be better because it’s more transparent.
Evans is on-board with building a soccer stadium at Buzzard Point. He believes the potential synergy with nearby Nats Park would be “tremendous.”
Like most other elected officials, Evans does not support a proposed 100,000-seat superdome to replace RFK Stadium, an idea floated by councilmember and mayoral candidate Vincent Orange. He envisions a venue with about 75,000 seats and a retractable roof.
D.C. PUBLIC SCHOOLS
DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson would get to keep her job if Evans were mayor. His priorities for reform include greater opportunities for young children, possibly starting at age 2, and expanding afterschool activities.
POLICE AND FIRE
As is the case with the vast majority of candidates in this race, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier gets a good review from Evans, but Fire and EMS Chief Ken Ellerbe does not. Evans notes the “rancor” in the fire department and says it signals a need for new leadership. He adds, the chief’s proposed redeployment plan, which would force firefighters to work shorter, more frequent shifts, has broken morale in the department.
Although he voted in favor of a bill that would decriminalize possessing small amounts of marijuana, Evans cautions against moving too quickly to legalize the drug. Even though he supports legalization, Evans has concerns about pushback from Congress and says a more gradual approach, similar to how gay marriage was passed, might yield more success.
If elected, Evans says he would freeze the number of traffic cameras and lower the fines.