Local activist Adam Eidinger has nearly one-third of the signatures needed to trigger a recall vote on council member Jack Evans, and he is confident he can get the rest by the November deadline.
“We need to send a message to the rest of the council that you are next, if you are going to engage in this corrupt behavior,” said Mr. Eidinger, who is known for decriminalizing marijuana via initiative.
The recall effort came about as a response to the accusations that Mr. Evans, the longest-serving council member, used his position as the Metro board chairman to benefit his NSE Consulting business.
“The investigations into Evans’s deplorable actions should continue, but his constituents do not need to wait for the results,” stated the notice of intent to recall. “We must remove him from the DC Council to ensure his conflict of interests do not continue to harm District residents.”
In his response to the notice, Mr. Evens called the recall statement misleading and touted his efforts to improve Ward 2 with green spaces, improvements to transportation and bike lanes, and the addition of the West End Library.
The recall effort has until Nov. 17 to collect signatures from 10% of Ward 2 voters, which amounts to about 5,200 signatures, and submit them to the board of elections to be certified, which would then schedule a recall vote. So far, they have collected about 1,600 signatures, Mr. Eidinger said, and that is with just 36 part-time volunteers. Mr. Eidinger hopes to start hiring paid signature collectors, who can rack up 500 signatures a day.
Mr. Eidinger calls this the “political Olympics.” He said physical challenges are just as much a part of this as the financial and logistical challenges.
It’s a matter of “how long can you stand on your feet, how many miles a day can you walk, how many doors can you knock on, what kind of weather can you work in,” Mr. Eidinger said.
An individual is limited to donating $500 toward the recall of a council member. For an initiative or referendum, there is no limit. For the marijuana initiative, Mr. Eidinger said, he raised enough money to hire an “army” to collect signatures. So far, he has raised about $5,000. What he needs to hire a sufficient number of collectors is about $12,000.
Mr. Eidinger called into question when the last time the voter rolls were purged of inactive voters, asserting that many of the doors on which his team knocks end up, for example, being short-term rentals where the registered voters don’t live.
Rachel Coll, a spokeswoman for the board of elections, said the board has purged the roll of inactive voters every election year as is required by code.
“It will be a tragedy if we don’t get the signatures. Failure is not an option,” Mr. Eidinger said. “If I have to take a leave of absence from work, I will. But I don’t want to do that. I have rent to pay, and I am saving for my daughter’s college.”
Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission Chairman John Fanning said the desire to recall Mr. Evans is mixed among his constituency. With Mr. Evans in office, a lot of issues have fallen by the wayside, Mr. Fanning said, such as housing affordability, homelessness and vacancy rates for small businesses.
“Jack Evans should consider retiring and allow someone else to become the council member,” said Mr. Fanning, who is one of five people who announced they are running against Mr. Evans in the 2020 Democratic primary. “Everything that is going on with him is a distraction from the quality of life issues that I just mentioned that are not being attended to.”
Daniel Warwick, chairman of the Dupont Circle ANC, said he applauds the recall effort but notes that no council member has ever been recalled in the District and that he is looking forward to the election in 2020.
For many of Mr. Warwick’s constituents, he said, “this is kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back” on supporting Mr. Evans.
In addition to the recall effort, the Sack Jack group is working to inform constituents, not just in Ward 2, but across the city why it is important to remove Mr. Evans from office, whether it be via recall, resignation or in 2020.
“Everybody in D.C. should be concerned when somebody’s integrity is in question with the kind of power he has,” said Sack Jack spokeswoman Natacia Knapper, encouraging people to pressure their council members to do more to hold Mr. Evans accountable.
The D.C. Council last week voted to strip Mr. Evans of his chairmanship of the finance and revenue committee and to initiate its own investigation into whether Mr. Evans used his position as a council member for his personal gain. The results of the investigation are to be made public once it is completed in September.