Who am I?
Elissa Silverman has centered her professional career on the District of Columbia, its residents, and its government. She is now seeking the at-large seat on the D.C. Council in the April 23 special election.
Her campaign is focused on integrity, accountability, and strategic investment in the District. As a budget analyst and former reporter for both The Washington Post and the Washington City Paper, Elissa knows how to unpack complicated issues and ask the tough questions.
Elissa began her reporting career at the Washington City Paper near the end of Marion Barry’s fourth term as mayor and the beginning of Anthony A. Williams’ first. For three years during Williams’ second term, she authored the paper's “Loose Lips” column on D.C. politics. She later moved to The Washington Post and covered the 2006 mayoral race, co-authoring a front-page story that investigated how money shaped the contest between Linda Cropp and Adrian Fenty.
Since 2009 Elissa has worked for the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, analyzing the D.C. budget, leading budget advocacy campaigns, and heading a coalition of groups that successfully opened D.C. Council budget negotiations to the public. In her role as communications director, Elissa has helped make the D.C. budget accessible to a broad range of residents through innovative techniques including blogs, graphics, and videos.
In recent months she helped lead the efforts of D.C. Public Trust, the grassroots effort to ban direct corporate contributions in local politics.
In November 2012 Elissa was honored to receive a Heschel Vision Award from the organization Jews United for Justice. Named after Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, an influential theologian and leader in civil rights and social justice, this award recognizes individuals for their activism and moral intent. Honored along with Elissa was Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Elissa grew up in Baltimore and attended public schools. She graduated from Brown University with a concentration in economics and history. Her studies at Brown sparked a lifelong interest in urban policy and shaped her thinking on key issues such as equity, race, poverty, and economic development.
Elissa is a Ward 6 resident and owns a home in Northeast Capitol Hill near H Street. She is a longtime cyclist, a recreational tennis player, and a sometimes cook. She is part of a Washington Nationals season ticket group (but also still roots for her hometown Orioles).
Why am I running?
My campaign is based on three foundations: integrity, accountability, and making strategic investments in our city, the nation’s capital.
On ethics and integrity: Two DC council members have resigned and served jail time in the past year, and our mayor is currently under federal investigation. It is time to bring honest, open, transparent government to City Hall. That is why I am running. I have a track record on ethics reform. I was part of the leadership of a grassroots voter initiative to ban corporate contributions in our local politics. The initiative fell short of making the ballot, but I am still pushing forward by applying this to my own campaign. I am not taking corporate contributions or PAC contributions, only contributions from individuals.
I also led a coalition of groups to open up the city’s budget negotiations to the public and have them televised. Until then, the most important decisions about the budget were made by councilmembers behind closed doors. I led a coalition of groups to change that and have them televised.
On accountability: In my decade as a reporter, I asked the tough questions and worked hard to get answers to keep the public informed. As an advocate, I have worked hard to make sure our taxpayer dollars are being spent in the most optimal, judicious way. On economic development, I worked to help pass a law which requires the city’s Chief Financial Officer to do a fiscal analysis anytime a developer wants a subsidy from the city. I also have drilled down into our workforce development budget to see how our local and federal funds are being spent on job training efforts. A copy of the map can be found here: http://www.dcfpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/1-10-12-Workforce-Map.pdf
On strategic investments: Many residents are moving to our city because we have made good investments in transportation, libraries, and basic services. I think we need to continue those strategic investments in other areas such as affordable housing and human services. In my time at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, I have effectively advocated for more resources and dollars be put into our housing
production trust fund and into job training for moms and dads on public assistance. I will continue to fight for those things as a councilmember. The future of our city depends on it.
I will work to pass campaign finance reform legislation, including a ban on corporate contributions. Now running a campaign, I can speak with great authority on why this is the right thing to do and good for our city.
I will also work on aggressive oversight in our workforce development programs. One thing I am interested in doing is putting in place a federally funded bonding program for ex offenders. I went to Fairfax County, Va., and officials there tell me they think the program is extremely effective for bridging the trust gap with employers.
My DFA Values
I share DFA’s values in a progressive tax system. I was part of the leadership to help pass a high income earners’ tax two years ago here in DC. I also believe in open, honest, transparent government that has full participation of residents.
My Campaign is People Powered!
My campaign certainly is people-powered! We have 253 people who have signed up to volunteer, and only one is related to me! My brother.
We rely on volunteers for everything from our brochure design to canvassing to phone banking. Even hanging up signs! We are completely volunteer driven, except for our paid campaign manager.