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Again we Urge, Vote for Evans: Here’s Why

In advance of previous City Council elections we have repeatedly endorsed Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans for re-election. He is the longest-serving member (since May of 1991, having won a special election following John Wilson’s advancement from the Ward 2 seat to chairman in a special election held five months earlier.

We know it’s fashionable among large swaths of the voters this year to push the “out with the old and in with the new” (and preferably not) politicians. Indeed, often that is a desirable thing, as with the at-large Council seat previously occupied by Vincent Orange (more about this below). However, it is not always a good thing to discard merely for the sake of change. A legislator such as Jack Evans who brings to the table vast institutional memory and who continues to provide a unique understanding of the institution’s dynamics is a valuable civic asset.

Having chaired the Council’s hugely important Committee on Finance and Revenue since 1999, Evans was instrumental in guiding the District government’s transition — in tandem with then newly elected Mayor Anthony Williams — out of its Financial Control Board interregnum. And ever since then he has effectively worked to keep both councilmembers, as well as mayors, from the temptation to spend willy-nilly during times when the coffers seemed to be overflowing. Jack clearly understood that DC is not New Orleans and the days of Laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll) which held sway with too many members of the Council who never encountered an unallocated dollar they didn’t want to lie idle during the Mayor Marion Barry years could no longer be tolerated. His insistence that substantial funds be held in reserve for the inevitable “rainy days” — an insistence that proved crucial in helping DC government weather the storm of the Great Recession — shows that his service, not just to Ward 2 but to all DC taxpayers, is what we ought to be very glad that he occupies the position that he does.

But, one might ask, what has he really made come about for the “little” people, those  who have to pay taxes on very modest annual incomes ranging between $40,000 and $60,000? That might sound like gobs of money in Alabama, but here in DC it’s nearly peanuts and yet applies to 15 percent of our citizens (based on 2014 data, the latest available).

Well, for one thing, as a result of Evans’ push not only to provide for the economic bad times, he has also been a leading proponent of actually lowering taxes — and not just for the “Big Boys” but for ordinary folk. For example, effective January 1st, for those in the $40-$60,000 tax bracket their rate their will now be at 7% — down from the previous 8.5%! Further, the standard deduction for single filers will increase from $4,000 to $5,200; for married couples filing jointly, the new deduction will double, from $$4,000 to $8,350! As for the larger middle income tax bracket, the rate will now be at 6.5%.

Another element of tax relief taking effect at the beginning of the year will be of direct benefit to owners of “mom and pop” and other small businesses with the lowering of the both the unincorporated and incorporated business franchise tax rate.

Another break for those in the lower reaches of the middle class who own their homes, effective January 1st the capital gains exclusion applicable to the sale of their homes following death will double from the unrealistically low $1 million to $2 million. Evans has assured The InTowner that he will continue to work on finding a path for the budget to allow for further increasing this exclusion so that in due course it will match that of the federal Internal Revenue Code.

Set out above are but just a few highlights of Evans’ accomplishments on behalf of struggling wage earners and small business owners (who, by the way, provide a huge employment base)  — all this while at the same time looking out for addressing constituent concerns about oftentimes sloppy or failed city services. It surely works to the advantage of Ward 2 residents when their councilmember’s office contacts a city agency about a problem requireing action that Evans holds the agency’s purse strings.

Finally, about that at-large Council seat which is now held on an interim basis by Democrat Robert White following Orange’s resignation to take over as head of the DC Chamber of Commerce; he is now seeking election to fill out the unexpired term.

Reading what he has posted on his campaign website about his deep knowledge and experience with DC issues as a one-time key staffer for DC Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton certainly suggests that he is more than qualified.

Unfortunately, as much as we might have wanted to write an endorsement of his candidacy we cannot, simply for the reason that no matter how much we attempted to contact him, our messages requesting a call never resulted in a response. If elected, he will have to do better than that!