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Ward 2: Evans vs. not Evans

(Published September 4, 2000)

By OSCAR ABEYTA

Staff Writer

The race for the D.C. City Council seat in Ward 2 features incumbent Jack Evans and two men who are campaigning on the fact that they are not Jack Evans.

But whether simply not being the incumbent is enough for either Pete Ross or John Fanning remains to be seen when voters go to the polls Sept. 12 to select the Democratic Partyís nominee for the November ballot.

Evans himself gave his opponents the one issue that has dominated the primary debate in the ward: Evansí impressive war chest of more than $200,000.

Ross has even gone so far as to post Evansí campaign finance reports on his web page along with his analysis that claims less than 10 percent of the incumbentís contributions came from Ward 2 residents. By his figuring, 60 percent of Evansí campaign money comes from real estate developers.

"My question is, ĎWho is he representing when you see those types of contributions?í" Ross asked.

Fanning is also quick to criticize Evans for his campaign money.

"Developers and big business are running the ward, no question," he said. "He (Evans) is unable to make decisions on behalf of the residents because of the influence of where the money is coming from."

Evans strongly refutes the criticisms of his campaign contributions. He said he did his own analysis of his campaign contributions and found that almost half of them came from Ward 2 residents and businesses. He said of 863 contributions, 590 were from individuals and the rest were from businesses.

Evans said he did his own analysis of the campaign finances because he resented the insinuations his challengers have made about his character.

"So I take some contributions from businesses, what does that mean? That Iím bought off?" he asked. "What I find a little disturbing is that my competitors canít and wonít address the issues."

The stakes are high indeed in the ward because it is home to the cityís booming and lucrative downtown. According to Evans, 57 percent of all the Districtís tax revenue comes from the ward and 78 percent of the cityís business taxes are generated in the ward.

"When the control board goes out of business (next year) the only entity that has oversight over finances is the councilís finance and revenue committee of which Iím the chairman," he said. "My competitors arenít even in the game when it comes to that."

Ironically, it is this expertise and familiarity with the workings of big business in the city that he is most criticized for. Fanning and Ross both pledge to be more devoted to the wardís neighborhoods, which both characterize as fragile. Both challengers also claim not to be anti-business.

"The person who represents Ward 2 has to be able to understand the issues," Evans said. "Many times its balancing the interests of many groups to find whatís best for everyone."

Fanning said that under Evansí watch the ward has gotten over-developed and that available affordable housing has dwindled.

"The prosperity of the ward needs to prosper in other parts of the city," he said, stressing that he favors housing construction to business development in the ward.

Evans countered that he led the fight in 1994 to preserve the laws that require downtown developments to include a certain percentage of their space for housing.

Fanning is the former Ward 2 coordinator for the Office of the Public Advocate under mayors Marion Barry and Anthony Williams. Ross owns a furniture factory in Ward 5. Ward 2 resident Raymond Avrutis is also running against Evans but so far has failed to show up at any of the candidate forums.

If Evans is re-elected to his seat, the voter-approved term limits would apply to him and it would be his last term. Evans would not say whether he would work to try to overturn the term limits law.

"I have never and do not support term limits," is all he would say on the matter.

Copyright © 2001 The Common Denominator