After 15 years being represented by Jim Graham on the DC Council and several recent scandals, many Ward 1 voters feel it is time for a new face. This year, they have an excellent choice in Brianne Nadeau, and we encourage Democratic voters to choose her in the primary on April 1 or in early voting beginning March 17.
One of our contributors perhaps put it best in our survey to determine the endorsements: “I think Jim Graham has made some very respectable contributions to the city during his time in service but as of late he seems ineffective, out of touch, and inactive on the issues that really matter. I think Brianne Nadeau would be a welcome breath of fresh air.”
Nadeau has been working to improve her neighborhood for many years, including a stint on the U Street Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B and then in the Ward 1 Democrats. She has advocated for smart growth and progressive policies such as reforming parking, adding new housing to welcome more neighbors, and providing affordable housing for less affluent residents.
She also has shown the energy that is required to be a successful candidate for political office, knocking on doors all across Ward 1, which includes U Street, Adams Morgan, Kalorama Triangle, Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, LeDroit Park, Pleasant Plains, and Park View.
Her success and outreach helped persuade fellow challengers Bryan Weaver and Beverley Wheeler to let her have a head-to-head contest with Graham. Those factors have propelled this race to be one of the most competitive this year, and have Graham seriously fighting for his political survival.
Unfortunately, Graham has responded to this threat by appealing to the most reactionary voters in Ward 1 on growth and development. He started the campaign simply expressing concern about certain “pop-up” additions atop row houses (some, admittedly ugly), then moved to stridently warning about “overdevelopment,” and has more recently promised at a candidate forum to “do everything in my power” to halt the DC Zoning Update.
This is particularly sad because the zoning update does nothing to allow any taller buildings or more pop-ups than under current zoning, but it does create a few opportunities to add new, often lower-cost housing in existing structures. In opposing these changes, Graham is actually fighting against the very principles of housing affordability he claims to support.
That’s too bad, because Graham has also been a long champion of better transit service, particularly bus service, which often gets forgotten in the public discourse. (Nadeau promises to push even harder for bus improvements, and is promoting efforts to get a 16th Street bus lane.) Graham has also been a voice for many progressive issues on the council during his tenure. Sadly, very troubling ethical scandals over the past few years have clouded Graham’s legacy of positive action on many issues.
In this election, voters do not simply have a choice between Graham and not-Graham; they have the opportunity to select a very worthy councilmember for all of Ward 1. We hope voters in the Democratic primary will select Brianne Nadeau on April 1 or in early voting starting March 17.
This is the official endorsement of Greater Greater Washington. To determine endorsements, we invite regular contributors and editors to participate in a survey about their preferences and opinions about upcoming races. The editorial board then decides whether to make an endorsement based on the responses in the survey and whether there is a clear consensus.