Daniel Hernandez says he is challenging embattled D.C. Council member Jack Evans for his Ward 2 seat because he believes the city can do better than “politics as usual.”
He is one of five candidates who have signed up to challenge Mr. Evans in the 2020 Democratic primary amid allegations he used his position on the D.C. Council and as chairman of the Metro Board of Directors to benefit clients of his consulting firm.
“I was just frustrated,” Mr. Hernandez said. “I saw a problem, and I decided I was in a place in my life where I can try to be that fix, be that solution.”
Mr. Hernandez, 31, said he began thinking about running for office in the fall of 2018 after watching the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. That desire solidified when he saw the ethics scandal that began to unravel around his Ward 2 representative.
Since May, a petition campaign has launched to recall Mr. Evans, the council has stripped him of his chairmanship of the Finance Committee, the FBI has raided his home, and he has resigned from the Metro Board. He is being investigated by the federal government and a law firm hired by his fellow council members.
The ethics scandal has emboldened a growing slate of candidates, like Mr. Hernandez, to try to replace the District’s longest-serving lawmaker:
• Patrick Kennedy, vice-chairman of the Foggy Bottom Advisory Neighborhood Commission and the youngest person to serve as an ANC chair.
• John Fanning, chairman of the Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission who challenged Mr. Evans in the 2000 primary.
• Jordan Grossman, a former staffer for the Obama administration and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
• Kishan Putta, a member of the Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission and the D.C. Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Affairs.
All of the challengers are participating in the District’s voluntary Fair Elections Program, which requires their campaigns to accept a maximum contribution of $50 from individual donors. The city will match those campaign contributions at a rate of 5-to-1.
Mr. Hernandez, a former Marine who now works for Microsoft, said, if elected, he would focus on restoring integrity to the council by supporting stronger rules for disclosing conflicts of interest, constituent service funds and recusing oneself from council actions.
He said he also wants to address the affordable housing and homeless crises, as well as improvements to transportation and bike lanes.
“I am not someone who has spent the last five, 10, 15 years trying to be a politician,” said Mr. Hernandez, who moved to the Dupont Circle area in 2017.
Mr. Evans has not yet officially declared his intent to seek re-election in 2020. He did not respond to messages seeking comment about primary challengers and the recall campaign.
Activist Adam Eidinger, who championed recreational marijuana in the District, said he has collected nearly a third of the 5,200 signatures needed to trigger a recall vote for Mr. Evans. He expressed confidence that he can deliver the required number of approved petition signatures to the Board of Elections by the Nov. 17 deadline.
Meanwhile, the council has hired the O’Melveny & Myers law firm to investigate whether Mr. Evans used his position on the council to benefit his personal business.
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, has said the investigation will be made public in September and he will appoint an ad hoc committee to review its findings and make recommendations.
Ward 2 includes Foggy Bottom, Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Logan Circle and the National Mall.