Ten days after he resigned from his Ward 2 D.C. Council seat to avoid being expelled for ethics violations, Jack Evans filed papers on Monday to run for the seat he gave up in both the city’s June 2 Democratic primary and in a June 16 special election to fill the now-vacant seat.
Under the city’s election rules, the special election was called so that Ward 2 residents could have a temporary representative on the D.C. Council until the winner in the November general election takes office on Jan. 2.
Evans becomes the seventh Democratic candidate to enter the June primary and special election race for the Ward 2 Council seat. Among the others is gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner John Fanning who is vying to become the Council’s only openly LGBT member after two gay members left office several years ago.
Fanning joined at least two of the other Ward 2 candidates and several of Evans’s former colleagues on the Council in criticizing Evans for seeking to recapture the seat from which he was forced to resign.
His resignation came after all 12 of his colleagues voted unanimously to expel him from the Council in a preliminary resolution based on multiple ethics violation allegations that Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) said were confirmed by an independent investigation. Had he not resigned observers have said it was certain the Council would have voted to expel him.
In his 29 years on the Council, Evans has been credited by LGBTQ activists as being one of the Council’s longest and strongest supporters of LGBT rights. But Fanning told the Blade on Monday that Ward 2 voters – including LGBTQ voters – have told him they believe it was time for Evans to leave office.
Fanning also called Evans’ introduction of a bill on his last day in office on Jan. 17 that would exempt D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance from thousands of dollars in city fees associated with the annual Pride parade and street festival, a political ploy to gain support from LGBTQ voters.
“I don’t oppose supporting Capital Pride and giving them financial relief,” Fanning said. “But knowing that he would be running in the primary I just think it’s the lowest form of political pandering,” Fanning told the Blade.
Evans couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. In his final newsletter to constituents, Evans said, “I know I have made some mistakes during my service to the city and I’m leaving the Council having learned important lessons that I will carry with me into the next chapter of my life.”
Gay small business and nightlife advocate Mark Lee said he believes Evans “enjoys significant continuing support among Ward 2 voters,” which Lee said was demonstrated by a failure of Evans’s opponents over eight months to collect enough petition signatures to hold a recall vote to oust Evans from office.
Lee and others have said Evans could win in a multi-candidate election where the opposition vote is divided.