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We Endorse Elissa Silverman for Another Term on the City Council, Despite the Mayor’s Anger

We have pretty much continued to like how at-large Councilmember Elissa Silverman has continued former at-large member David Catania’s role as the council’s de-facto “junkyard dog” by holding city bureaucrats feet to the fire when it is necessary. She has been a diligent watchdog on behalf of us taxpayers, especially attentive to taking seriously her oversight responsibilities as a member of the council’s finance and revenue and government operations committees.

Clearly, however, Mayor Bowser hates her for this and has now decided to act like an old Tammany Hall boss of yore by tapping newcomer pol and Bowser’s new best bud Dionne Reeder to unseat the highly qualified Silverman.

As the Washington Post recently reported, “’We’ve got to get her out of there,’ Bowser told a political donor. . . .” The Post further noted that the Mayor’s “endorsement is the first time in memory that a D.C. mayor has sought to oust an incumbent council member. It is a public display of political muscle that no predecessor — not even Marion S. Barry ever dared. . . .”

What seems to undergird her lashing out has been Silverman’s “aggressive oversight of mayoral agencies,” as the Post characterized it. Well, too bad –- Madam Mayor, but the council member has simply been doing what is expected of members of a legislative branch, which is not to just be a rubber stamp but to serve as a check on the executive branch.

The Post also reminded us of the Joshua Lopez affair back in the spring “during a dispute over the mayor’s response to a racially charged rally hosted by Joshua Lopez, a Bowser campaign consultant and appointee. With Lopez standing alongside, a Nation of Islam representative called Silverman ‘a fake Jew.’”

And that does raise serious question whether it would be in the public interest to have on the council a member who is supported by the likes of Lopez and the late former Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham’s assistant Ted Loza – she calls him an “old friend,” — who was convicted six years ago of taking bribes. Then, there is also former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. of whom she is  “very fond” and who she told the Post “has helped her in Ward 5.” As a reminder, five years ago he was convicted of misappropriating $300,000 of city grant funds intended for community groups in his ward.

Do we need someone like Reeder to join the Council? We think not. Silverman, though, more than passes muster, not only for her work on the Council but for her background that gives rise to her expertise — Post reporter focused on DC government, DC Fiscal Policy Institute analyst, and as a city resident very active in community affairs supporting causes of importance to all, whether white, Latino, Asian, African-American. It is no wonder that Marion Barry, when he represented Ward 8 on the Council, supported her when she ran for her first term four years ago.

Closing note: While we have focused on the Silverman-Reeder race, we are cognizant of other races involving incumbents. Those council members were noted in our commentary, “When Voting Consider Which Candidates Listen,” published in June shortly before the primary election.


Reader Comments

Thank you for this editorial. So many District residents feel that any District election is foregone: not this one. The People need Elisa Silverman on the Council — and more like her. We need her to force accountability and shared data. Elisa Silverman is one of the few  true representatives of the People at large. (It would help, however, if she and all members of the council would read the Comprehensive Plan as part of induction onto the Council!)

Carole Lewis Anderson