Oct 4, 2021 - News

Challenger jumps into D.C. Council chair race

Erin Palmer is pictured with her family.

Erin Palmer (center) with her family. Photo: Reana Kovalcik/Erin Palmer campaign.

A local leader and lawyer has thrown her hat in the ring for chair of the D.C. Council.

Democrat Erin Palmer, 40, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Takoma, announced on Sept. 25 that she is challenging chair Phil Mendelson for his seat.

  • Palmer tells Axios' Chelsea Cirruzzo that her campaign expects to announce today that they've met the requirements to be certified as a participating candidate under D.C.'s Fair Elections Program.
  • For the council chair, that's 300 donations totaling $15,000 or more. Palmer tells Axios they've received 325 donations totaling more than $26,000.

Why it matters: Mendelson was elected as chair in 2012, having previously served as an at-large council member and a neighborhood commissioner.

  • Palmer says her challenge to him is a "leap in a number of ways," as a new challenger facing off with an incumbent for the council's highest role.

Be smart: She is challenging a chairman whose popularity has endured over three election cycles. In 2018, he easily fended off a challenger with a two-thirds margin.

What they're saying: Palmer says her key focus is oversight of the D.C. Council as well as balancing power between the chair and the rest of the council.

  • As an ANC, Palmer says she has experience identifying community issues and pushing for attention from city officials.
  • "I don't really view the chair as elevated in stature," Palmer says. "The chair manages some operational things but I don't think deserves to have significantly more power and control over the direction of the council."

On her website, Palmer has listed other priorities as part of her platform, including:

  • Violence intervention and trauma-informed services for victims of gun violence.
  • Ending chronic homelessness and expanding homebuyer assistance.
  • Improving family services, including supporting a birthing center in Anacostia.

What's next: Palmer expects to soon file as a candidate, noting the next filing deadline is Oct. 12. Mendelson has already filed to run for reelection.


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