The 2020 race for the Ward 2 council seat has kicked off in earnest: The first campaign filing deadline was July 7, and all five challengers—John Fanning, Jordan Grossman, Patrick Kennedy, Daniel Hernandez, and Kishan Putta—are officially in the race.
So far current Ward 2 councilmember Jack Evans has said he plans to run for re-election, though he hasn’t formally filed to run. The embattled Evans is under investigation by the FBI and the DC Council, and the DC Board of Ethics and Government Accountability just gave him a $20,000 fine. The final filing deadline isn’t until next March, giving him plenty of time to decide for certain, and whether the FBI brings charges could have a major impact.
The Ward 2 race has, of course, been heavily shaped by both Evans’ inappropriate use of his role as a councilmember to solicit private contracts, as well as his longevity as an elected official: He’s been in office for 28 years, the longest-serving councilmember in the city’s history.
In the initial competition for fundraising, Jordan Grossman reported $37,600 in contributions as of the July 31 filing deadline, according toreports filed with the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF). Kishan Putta — the most recent entrant — has raised about $12,900; Patrick Kennedy — the first to announce his candidacy — has raised about $12,300; and John Fanning has raised about $6,200. Daniel Hernandez received an extension and has not filed his contribution report yet.
Just as Evans’ corruption is an urbanist issue, so too is the Ward 2 race. As GGWash undertakes its endorsement process, we’ll be assessing candidates based on their stances on land use, housing, and transportation. And we’re interested in how their approaches to what we regularly discuss here intersect with the relevant topic areas for progressives in DC, like paid family leave, school planning and education, and Birth-to-Three, an education and childcare subsidy program the DC Council passed last year but only partially funded this year.
Dupont Circle in particular has been the locus of many an urbanism-related dustup in the past year, including the placement of a crosstown cycletrack and a long-roiling spat over whether the Masons should be allowed to build an apartment complex behind their 16th Street temple. However, the whole of Ward 2 encompasses not just Dupont, but also the majority of downtown; Foggy Bottom, the West End, and Georgetown; and parts of Logan Circle, Mount Vernon Square, and Shaw.
We’ll be looking to see if candidates are committed to taking the necessary steps to support more homes and more frequent, reliable transportation in their ward, as well as land-use approaches that are both resilient to climate change and redistribute access to jobs, amenities, and safe and stable housing.
We’re continually looking for volunteers to join the GGWash elections committee. We’re carrying out the endorsement process for Ward 2 right now, but, in January, will begin the process for wards 4, 7, 8, and the at-large seats. If you’re interested in joining the elections committee, fill out this survey, and email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Meet the candidates
John Fanning, 56, is the chair of ANC 2F, which covers Logan Circle, the 14th Street business corridor, and parts of downtown. The eldest of five challengers to incumbent Jack Evans, Fanning has also been involved in local politics the longest, having moved to DC from New York in 1984.
Fanning has served as the Ward 2 Community Liaison for the past five mayoral administrations. Most recently, he served as a Business Compliance Specialist in the Department of Small and Local Business Development. Fanning is proud of this long track record of service, stating that he is “the most qualified candidate to bring change.”
Top issues for his campaign include responsive constituent engagement, public safety, small business retention, improving education, and public health access. His campaign website lacks specifics on housing but proposes to create more affordable housing for vulnerable seniors and longtime residents. He also envisions continual focus on homeless outreach and providing “adequate housing alternatives for our homeless population.”
As a six-term ANC Commissioner, Fanning has advocated for transit and pedestrian safety improvements to 14th Street and Logan Circle. In particular, he contributed to a resolution in support of a 59 express bus service along 14th Street and recommended the installation of curbside bike lanes as part of DDOT’s 14th Street Streetscape Project. He has also expressed support for the re-use of the historic Franklin School for the new Planet World Museum and the redevelopment of adjacent Franklin Park.
This is the second time Fanning has challenged incumbent Jack Evans to his seat—the first being the 2000 primary. Fanning is a member of the Dupont and Logan Circle Community Associations. —Brian Goggin
Jordan Grossman is a fifth-generation area resident and first-time council candidate. His work history includes serving as Deputy Legislative Director for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, field organizer for the Obama campaign, and law clerk for the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Most recently he worked at the DC Department of Health Care Finance.
His volunteer roles include serving as Co-President of the American Constitution Society’s DC Chapter and as a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) committee that reviews liquor license applications for establishments in Shaw/Logan Circle. Grossman says his number one priority as potential Ward 2 Councilmember is ending corruption. He supports a current proposal to ban lawmakers from holding outside employment, but wants to go further and bar councilmembers from ever lobbying on behalf of for-profit entities after they leave office.
Other issues mentioned on his website include funding affordable housing programs such as the Local Rent Supplement Program and the Housing Production Trust Fund, universal childcare legislation (the Birth-to-Three for All DC Act), easing student loans, and prioritizing bike, transit, and pedestrian infrastructure. He strongly supports DC statehood.
As for personal details, Grossman graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School. His campaign website states that he plays soccer with Fever FC as part of District Sports, enjoys musical theater, and spends time with his many family members in the DC area. He lives in Shaw with his wife. —Stephanie Tulowetzke
Parick Kennedy, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Foggy Bottom, was the first candidate to announce he would run for the Ward 2 seat. Just after declaring his candidacy in April, Kennedy told DCist he will focus on affordable housing and transportation. He said he wants a network of protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes.
In 2012 while a junior at George Washington University, Kennedy was elected to Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A. Two years later he was elected by fellow commissioners to chair ANC 2A, which his campaign bio says made him the youngest ANC chair in DC history at the age of 22. Seventeen of the 37 advisory neighborhood commissioners in Ward 2 have endorsed Kennedy in the Council race, the GW Hatchet reports.
Kennedy co-chaired Jack Evans’ 2016 re-election campaign. Kennedy told the Washington Post he wanted a “positive relationship” with Evans for the sake of working together on issues important to Foggy Bottom. But Kennedy said he determined Evans was unfit for office after the Post reported that Evans sought to leverage his connections as a DC councilmember into employment with firms lobbying the DC government.
A native of Clearwater, Florida, Kennedy was born a few months after Evans won a special election for the Ward 2 seat in 1991. Kennedy graduated from George Washington University in 2014 with a degree in political science. The 28-year-old works for CRP, a DC-based management consulting firm. —Mark Rodeffer
Political newcomer Daniel Hernandez, 31, is a Dupont Circle resident, a father of two, and a Marine veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan as a multichannel radio operator. He currently works at Microsoft supporting customers’ technical needs. Hernandez decided to run for office after watching Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing and feeling frustrated by politics.
Hernandez states on his website that he’d like to strengthen the District’s Inclusionary Zoning program and believes the city isn’t moving aggressively enough to protect pedestrians and cyclists and develop strong transit and bicycle networks. He also wants to fully fund DC’s Homeward DC plan to end chronic homelessness and put together a working group to address rising commercial rents, among other proposals.
Hernandez enjoys playing and watching soccer with his sons, riding his bike around the city, and going to the farmer’s market and local restaurants. Hernandez has been endorsed by VoteVets, a nonprofit that supports progressive veterans running for office. —Erica Flock
A Ward 2 resident since 2005, Kishan Putta has served his neighbors through his roles on ANCs 2B (Dupont Circle) and 2E (Georgetown, Burleith and Hillandale), of which he is currently a member. Kishan has served on the DC Public Schools Chancellor’s Parents Cabinet and currently serves as Chair of the Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus of the DC Democratic party. Washington City Paper recently reported on Putta’s conservative past.
By trade a health care policy consultant, one of Putta’s greatest efforts has been to aid in the establishment of the Affordable Care Act exchanges in the District, and he has been working with DC Health Link since 2013 to do so. Some of Putta’s greatest focuses in the upcoming race are transportation improvements (he was closely involved with encouraging community input on the 16th Street bus lane), green space upgrades, the bettering of DC public education, and restoration of trust in Ward 2’s political representation, among others. —Dominic Ritchey