WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Metro Board of Directors is defending himself and rejecting calls for his resignation amid an inter-jurisdictional fight that grew much worse this week.
Jack Evans, the board chairman who also is a D.C. Council member, said he will not back down.
“I get a lot of criticism, but you can call me any name you want,” he said. “I’m not going to go away.”
Among those pressuring Evans to resign are Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who say Evans isn’t doing the rail service any favors by stoking political battles.
On Thursday, Evans threatened to hold up a land transfer related to the Purple Line light rail project unless Maryland agreed to a plan he favors to restructure the Metro board.
Although, Evans claimed the growing opposition he is facing is more complicated than that.
He said the recent tension has more to do with the fact that he frequently criticizes and faults elected officials and surrounding jurisdictions for not supporting a region-wide 1-cent sales tax to serve as a dedicated funding source for Metro.
“I stand here today and have the governor of Maryland ranting and raving that he doesn’t want to pay, and people in Virginia can’t decide how we’re going to do it,” Evans said. “Give me a penny tax and you will never hear from Metro again about finances.”
A spokesman for Hogan’s office, Douglass Mayer, said it was “illogical” for Evans to start trouble with the Purple Line land deal.
“The Purple Line will in fact increase ridership on Metro, so I’m not exactly sure what he’s trying to achieve,” Mayer said.
As part of the Purple Line construction, Maryland needs the land rights at Metro’s Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton stations. The 16-mile light rail line will stretch from Bethesda to New Carrollton, providing connections to Metro’s Red, Green and Orange lines.