WASHINGTON – D.C. politics just got a bit more interesting. Elissa Silverman, a former reporter turned activist, is joining the race for the D.C. Council.
Silverman joins an already crowded field looking to fill the seat vacated by Phil Mendelson after he was elected chairman of the council.
Silverman spent eight years covering D.C. politics, first as the “Loose Lips” columnist for the Washington City Paper then as a metro reporter for the Washington Post.
Silverman’s coverage of city hall included investigative reports on local campaigns’ use of petition gatherers and how money shaped the 2006 mayoral race between Adrian Fenty and Linda Cropp.
In 2009, Silverman traded her reporter’s notebook for a job as an advocate for good government, joining the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute where she worked on budget issues and open government policy.
Silverman says she hopes to bring her experience as a watchdog to the council dais.
“As a budget wonk and ex-reporter, I know how to ask the hard questions,” Silverman said.
“Our city’s budget is a statement of our priorities. I want to serve on the council to make sure our government is more responsive, more effective and more strategic in helping improve the lives of all District residents,” Silverman wrote in a statement announcing her candidacy.
Silverman’s former editor at City Paper, Eric Wemple, describes her as the consummate reporter.
“She was awesome. There was nobody who had higher standards for herself than Elissa,” Wemple said.
“She was meticulous about her ethics, her quoting and her facts she got absolutely everything right. She’d spend 20 hours a day working. She loves politics.”
But Wemple, who now covers media issues for the Washington Post, says there’s a potential for a conflict for the reporters who will cover her candidacy.
“There is an issue,” he said. “Elissa is obviously a very popular and beloved figure among the media here. If I were running against Elissa, I’d be watching very carefully how the Washington Post and City Paper and WTOP cover her.”
Silverman joins ten other candidates who have already announced their candidacy, including interim Councilmember Anita Bonds, who was appointed by the Democratic State Committee to fill the seat until the April 23 special election.
Other candidates include Republican Patrick Mara, who was narrowly defeated by Vincent Orange in a 2011 special election.