Updated Jun 22, 2022 - News

Progressives gain seats on D.C. Council

Illustration of the Wilson building in Washington with lines radiating from it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

D.C. voters on Tuesday backed D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson over a left-leaning challenger. But progressives gained two other seats on the Council.

Why it matters: The victories for the progressive candidates are likely to pit the council against Mendelson and Mayor Bowser even more often than before. The latter two are typically seen as fiscal moderates in the Democratic city.

  • Top issues for the next council include tackling violence — where fault lines emerge over whether to increase policing or other interventions — and the District's full recovery from the pandemic.

What's happening: Zachary Parker, who had support from left-leaning council members and groups, won the Ward 5 seat, dooming the political comeback hopes of former council member Vincent Orange.

  • In affluent Ward 3 progressive Matt Frumin has a lead over Eric Goulet. Over the past week, three candidates had dropped out of the race to support Frumin, who had nearly 38% of the vote over Goulet's 31%.
  • The Board of Elections had counted nearly 92,000 votes by 11:45pm.

What they're saying: Mendelson said in an interview he was ready to work with all the winners and said it's "premature to start speculating about what whether factions will develop."

Elsewhere, Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau defended her seat, fending off a spirited challenge from a more moderate political newcomer, Salah Czapary. Nadeau was on track for a third term after winning 47% of the vote.

  • Outside Smitty’s on Georgia Avenue Tuesday night, Nadeau said she was hopeful that the Ward 3 and Ward 5 races would add more progressive voices to the council.

At-large Council member Anita Bonds leads in a four-person race with 38% of the vote. Lisa Gore and Nate Fleming trailed with both tied at around 27%.

Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen ran unopposed.

The big picture: The most consequential position of council chair remained in Mendelson's control.

  • Four years after he trounced a left-leaning candidate, Mendelson faced a more formidable opponent in advisory neighborhood commissioner Erin Palmer. Yet on Tuesday, Mendelson still commanded nearly 55% of the vote.
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