Posted by Elissa Silverman on January 16, 2015 at 11:57 AM
It's hard for me to believe that it has already been two weeks since many of you witnessed the swearing-in of me, my fellow council members, and Mayor Bowser! I want to give you an update on what I've been up to in that time, and what I'll be focused on in the next week and upcoming weeks ahead.
First, I want to say how thrilling it is to work with my colleagues in the Silverman council office! On Monday, Jan. 5, our first official day in the Wilson Building, I sent out an email announcing our stellar lineup. In case you missed it, you can find our staff profiles here. My ambition was to have a diverse staff of D.C. residents--some Wilson Building veterans, some who bring fresh eyes to our local government--who all have a passion for integrity, accountability, and creating opportunity for all our residents. It is gratifying to see that team in place. I look forward to you getting to know them soon.
MY FOCUS THIS WEEK (AND LAST WEEK)
Getting our office up and running was a major focus of last week, and I am happy to say we are fully operational! You can reach me and my colleagues in the Silverman office at 202.724.7772. If you want to send an email--which some of you already have!--you can send it to me and my colleagues in our office by addressing it to first initial and last name at dccouncil.us. As in, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much of my time this week has been focused on getting immersed in our committee work on the Council. I will serve as a member of the committees on Housing and Community Development; Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs; and Finance and Revenue. As part of my council duties, I will also serve as a member of the Transportation Planning Board that is part of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
I, along with my office colleagues, have been in multiple meetings every day this week with housing developers, advocates, researchers, and residents to get a handle on what we are currently doing as a government and as a city to provide safe, affordable housing for residents and where we need to go. It's a challenging policy area to get your arms around because it has so many tentacles--rental and homeownership, preservation and creation, etc. I think it is critical to the health and prosperity of our city, as well as a foundation for other efforts in areas like education reform. If our kids do not have a stable home to get a good night's sleep, then it is tough for them to read and pay attention in class.
I've also been in meetings with the DC Business Coalition, small business owners, adult education providers, and workforce development groups to get immersed in the work of the Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs Committee. I want to make sure DC government is an enabler of opportunity, not an obstacle. One of my favorite events of the past week was attending the graduation of more than 1,200 D.C. residents from the University of the District of Columbia Community College Lifelong Learning & Workforce Development Division. This division of our community college is providing a critical opportunity for our residents to establish career pathways in some of our most strategic economic sectors: healthcare, IT, hospitality, and real estate. Doing just that--preparing DC residents for not only jobs but careers in our growing sectors--is one of the reasons I wanted to serve on this committee and on the Council. Thanks to Dean Kim Ford for inviting me and congratulations again to all our graduates.
On Tuesday, I sent a letter to D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine thanking him for joining twelve states in filing an amicus brief supporting President Obama's executive action on immigration. Allowing more immigrants to work legally in the United States will provide many social and economic benefits to states and the District, and it is the right thing to do. You can see my full letter here.
Finally, I am very concerned about the Metro incident Monday in which one rider died and more than 80 riders suffered injuries. I am a frequent rider of both Metrorail and Metrobus, and I think all riders as well as the public need to know exactly what happened Monday and how we can learn from that tragic incident to improve safety for WMATA passengers and workers. I am also concerned about DC's first responder agencies and how their efforts can be supported. WMATA comes under the purview of the Finance and Revenue Committee, and Tuesday morning I spoke with its chairman, Jack Evans, who was also just appointed as a DC member of the WMATA Board of Directors. I worked with Chairman Evans on questions that remain unanswered about Monday's incident, and we have circulated those to colleagues on the Council with other oversight responsibilities, as well as to the Bowser administration. I met Thursday afternoon with Mayor Bowser, City Administrator Rashad Young, and Deputy City Administrator Kevin Donahue to go over these concerns. Later today, a preliminary report will be issued on the first response of District agencies, and a more in-depth report will come out early next week. I asked to work with the Bowser administration and my colleagues on questions to WMATA in light of the findings. I will keep you updated.
Full immersion into my committee work will continue. I am also looking forward to participating in several Martin Luther King Day events over the weekend. Tonight, I am honored to help light the Shabbat candles at the annual MLK Shabbat at 6th & I. This is such a cool event, that highlights the promise of our city. It is a service that combines the DC Jewish community that currently worships at 6th & I, with Turner Memorial AME, which used to worship at 6th & I. I'll also be marching in the MLK Peace Walk in Ward 8 on Monday. Feel free to join me!
Every day it is my honor to serve you, the residents of the District of Columbia. I think that every time I climb the steps of the John A. Wilson Building.