Elissa Silverman has focused her career on making the District of Columbia government accountable, responsive, and accessible to residents through her work as a reporter, budget analyst, and progressive reformer. In 2014, she was elected to an at-large seat on the D.C. Council, where she serves as chair of the Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. In each of her campaigns, Elissa has only taken money from individuals, refusing any money from corporations or PACs.
She is running for re-election on November 6, 2018.
Elissa's Work on the Council
During her first term, Elissa has prioritized making D.C. a place of opportunity for all. She co-authored a groundbreaking family leave bill, now law, which gives D.C. workers the time necessary to take care of themselves and their family members during critical life events without fear of financial repercussions. She also authored a bill that strengthened the District’s unemployment insurance program, an important support for workers who lose a job through no fault of their own.
A major focus of Elissa’s legislative agenda has been making sure that the District remains affordable to all, especially to longtime residents and growing families. Elissa served on the mayor’s Housing Preservation Strike Force and is an active member of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization. Her efforts have delivered $20 million in additional money to repair D.C.’s aging public housing communities, more resources to identify and address vacant properties, and more tools to keep landlords accountable to tenants and combat displacement. She has also introduced legislation to create greater rental subsidies for seniors and those with disabilities. And she has been a champion of putting at least $100 million into affordable housing production every year.
Elissa also believes that District residents deserve the best return on investment for the tax dollars they pay to the city. As a member of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, Elissa scrutinizes every economic development deal involving city subsidies. For example, instead of giving $36 million in taxpayer dollars to build additional underground parking at Union Market, Elissa proposed using these dollars to build more affordable housing and public transit at the site.
Elissa fights for justice for tenants and workers. That's why Elissa provided funding to the DC Office of the Attorney General to hire two attorneys specifically to investigate and prosecute wage theft. Those attorneys have already filed a complaint against Power Design in one of the biggest cases of wage theft in D.C. history. That's also why Elissa has introduced legislation to make it easier to hold slumlords like Sanford Capital accountable for keeping tenants in terrible living conditions.
Elissa has one boss- you! Elissa doesn't take any money from corporations or PACs- she only takes money from individuals. This enables her to make decisions based on what is best for her constituents - District voters and residents. Elissa also respects the will of the people- she led the fight against the total repeal of Initiative 77 by introducing a compromise bill that would raise wages for many of D.C.'s most vulnerable workers, including parking attendants, salon workers, and indirectly tipped restaurant workers.
Elissa first came to D.C. to work as a reporter in 1995, when Marion Barry was mayor. She was a staff writer for Washington City Paper, where for three years she authored the paper’s “Loose Lips” column on D.C. politics. She later worked for The Washington Post and covered the 2006 mayoral race.
From 2009 to 2014, Elissa 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. Before leaving DCFPI, she helped coordinate the campaigns that led to an increase in D.C.’s minimum wage and an expansion of paid sick days to restaurant workers.
In 2012, she helped lead the efforts of D.C. Public Trust, the grassroots effort to ban direct corporate contributions in local politics. That November, Elissa was honored to receive a Heschel Vision Award from the organization Jews United for Justice. The award, named after influential theologian and civil rights leader Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, recognizes individuals for their pursuit of social justice in the metropolitan region.
Elissa grew up in Baltimore and attended public schools. She graduated from Brown University with concentrations 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 Capitol Hill near H Street NE. She sometimes cycles to work, plays tennis at various recreation centers throughout the District, and enjoys yoga.
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