Elissa Silverman is an American politician and reporter from Washington, D.C., the United States capital. She has served as an independent at-large member of the Council of the District of Columbia since January 2, 2015. Before 2014, she was a journalist at The Washington Post and Washington City Paper covering D.C. politics, and a policy analyst at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. She was re-elected in November 2018 for a four-year term.

Elissa Silverman
Elissa Silverman at the 2019 AFGE Legislative Conference.jpg
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia at-large
Assumed office
January 2, 2015
Preceded byDavid Catania
Personal details
Born1972/1973 (age 46–47)[1]
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (Before 2014)
Independent (2014–present)
EducationBrown University (BA)
University of Maryland, College Park

Early life and professional careerEdit

Elissa Silverman was born to parents Jack and Ruth Silverman in Baltimore, Maryland, where she attended public school.[2][3] She majored in economics and history at Brown University.[4] She has worked as a reporter for The Washington Post and, earlier, the Washington City Paper where she wrote the Loose Lips column.[5][6] She also helped the D.C. Public Trust in its attempt to prohibit direct corporate contributions in local politics.[5] In April 2009, she was hired as a policy analyst and communications director at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute,[5] a position she held until resigning to run for public office in April 2014.[7] She attends the University of Maryland, and is pursuing a master's degree in urban studies and planning.[8]

Political careerEdit

2013 electionEdit

When At-large Council Member Phil Mendelson was elected council chairman in 2012, his former seat on the Council was declared vacant.[5] Silverman filed to run as a Democratic candidate for the at-large seat.[5] Silverman ran against incumbent Anita Bonds,[9] and Board of Education member Patrick Mara.[10] Silverman said she would not accept campaign contributions from corporations.[11]

Silverman supported increasing funding to government programs that subsidize affordable housing,[12][13] and expanding the minimum wage law to cover restaurant workers.[14] Silverman said it is a problem that a quarter of District students attend their zoned neighborhood schools, saying more governmental resources should improve schools.[15]

Following a $440 million budget surplus in 2012, Bonds and Mara supported tax cuts, while Silverman said she would prioritize helping people in other ways before cutting taxes.[12] A political action committee criticized Silverman when she said she did not think residents minded paying taxes and minded poor city services more.[16]

Silverman and her campaign tried to negotiate a deal with rival candidate Matthew Frumin, asking him to drop out of the election in exchange for her supporting him in a future election.[17][18] Frumin declined the offer, saying he felt he still had a chance to win.[17] Frumin said Silverman's offer may contradict her case for being a reformer.[17]

"It was explicit that she would support me in a Ward 3 race, including against Mary Cheh," said Frumin, who has consistently said he has no interest in running against Cheh next year. "The idea of an attempted deal, maybe that is what happens in politics, but when you are claiming a whole new politics, that is something of an issue."

Silverman's candidacy was endorsed by Council Member David Grosso[19] former Council Member Sharon Ambrose,[20] and former Council Member Kathy Patterson.[13] She was also endorsed by the editorial board of the Washington City Paper,[21] Democracy for America, and the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 2.[13]

Silverman finished second to Anita Bonds,[22] by a margin of 31% to 28%.[23]

2014 electionEdit

Promotional sign for Silverman's 2014 campaign.

When independent Council Member David Catania decided to run for mayor rather than reelection in 2014, Silverman decided to change her official political status to independent and leave her position at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute to consider another candidacy.[24] Silverman publicly declared her candidacy for Council the next month.[25]

Silverman emphasized accountability of elected officials, accountability of public schools, quality education, affordable housing, and good public transportation.[25] Silverman said she would not accept campaign contributions from corporations.[25] She was proud of helping increase the District's minimum wage to $11.50 per hour and expand the mandatory paid sick leave law to restaurant employees.[26]

Silverman's candidacy was endorsed by Ward 8 Council Member Marion Barry,[27] Ward 6 Council candidate Charles Allen, the D.C. Chapter of the National Organization for Women, D.C. Working Families, Jews United for Justice,[28] and the D.C. Muslim Caucus,[29] Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union 32BJ and 1199, DC for Democracy, the Sierra Club, the DC Police Union,[30] the United Food and Commercial Workers local,[31] and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 36.[32] She was also endorsed by the editorial board of the Washington City Paper.[33]

Silverman was elected to the at-large seat in the 2014 general election[34] with 12% of the total votes.[3][35]

2018 electionEdit

Silverman stood for re-election in the 2018 general election. Among her challengers were S. Kathryn Allen, a business-backed challenger who was a former insurance agent and banking commissioner. Allen, who was endorsed by former mayor Anthony Williams and former D.C. Councilmember David Catania, had specifically challenged Silverman over the latter's support of a comprehensive paid leave proposal which was passed into law by the council in 2016.[36] Allen and other opponents of the paid leave bill argued that it imposes a costly tax on DC businesses and that the benefits will primarily accrue to residents of Maryland and Virginia who commute into the city.[37] Allen was disqualified from the 2018 ballot as a result of signature fraud on her nominating petitions.[38] Dionne Reeder, a candidate backed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, entered the race to replace Silverman, though was not successful in the November 2018 general election.[39]


In 2016, Silverman introduced legislation to limit public spending on a proposed practice facility for the Washington Wizards. The law would cap public expenditures at $50 million and hold Ted Leonsis' company, which owns the team, responsible for any cost overruns.[40]


Silverman was appointed to the following committees for Council Period 21 (January 2015 to December 2016).[41]

  • Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
  • Committee on Housing and Community Development
  • Committee on Finance and Revenue

Personal lifeEdit

Silverman lives in Capitol Hill.[5] She is Jewish.[42]

Electoral ResultsEdit

2013 Special Election, Council of the District of Columbia, At-Large Seat[23]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Anita Bonds 18,027 31
Democratic Elissa Silverman 15,228 27
Republican Patrick Mara 13,698 24
Democratic Matthew Frumin 6,307 11
Democratic Paul Zukerberg 1,195 2
Democratic Michael A. Brown 1,100 2
D.C. Statehood Green Perry Redd 1,090 2
  write-in 187 0
2014 General Election, Council of the District of Columbia, At-Large Seats[35]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Anita Bonds 85,575 24
Independent Elissa Silverman 41,300 12
Independent Michael D. Brown 28,614 8
Independent Robert White 22,198 6
Independent Courtney R. Snowden 19,551 5
D.C. Statehood Green Eugene Puryear 12,525 4
Independent Graylan Scott Hagler 10,539 3
Independent Khalid Pitts 10,392 3
Republican Marc Morgan 9,947 3
Independent Brian Hart 8,933 3
Independent Kishan Putta 6,135 2
Independent Calvin Gurley 4,553 1
Independent Eric J. Jones 4,405 1
Libertarian Frederick Steiner 3,766 1
Independent Wendell Felder 2,964 1
  write-in 1,472 0


  1. ^ Meet an at-large D.C. Council candidate: Elissa Silverman
  2. ^ DeBonis, Mike (October 23, 2014). "Meet an at-large D.C. Council candidate: Elissa Silverman". Washington Post.
  3. ^ a b Rausnitz, Zach (November 5, 2014). "Ex-Reporter Elissa Silverman Heads to the D.C. Council". Washington City Paper.
  4. ^ "At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman • Council of the District of Columbia". Council of the District of Columbia. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Haines, Errin (December 20, 2012). "Former reporter seeks at-large D.C. Council seat: Elissa Silverman covered DC government, politics". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ Haslam, Maggie (January 24, 2005). "Taking Note ... : Quieted Lips". The Common Denominator.
  7. ^ Sommer, Will (April 4, 2014). "Hagler Declares for At-Large Seat, Silverman Almost Does". Washington City Paper.
  8. ^ Haslam, Maggie (February 6, 2015). "URSP Student Elissa Silverman Elected to At-Large Seat of Washington, D.C. City Council". School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. University of Maryland.
  9. ^ Craig, Tim (January 16, 2013). "A.J. Cooper drops council bid, endorses Silverman: A.J. Cooper cites fears of splitting the vote in a crowded Democratic field and helping Republican Patrick Mara". The Washington Post.
  10. ^ Craig, Tim (January 23, 2013). "Eight candidates remain in D.C. Council race: At-large contest features six Democrats, a Republican and a Statehood Green Party candidate". The Washington Post.
  11. ^ Craig, Tim (February 1, 2013). "Matthew Frumin has big fundraising lead in race for at-large seat: The Ward 3 advisory neighborhood commissioner reported raising $82,000 for his campaign". The Washington Post.
  12. ^ a b Craig, Tim (April 9, 2013). "Candidates' debate touches on city's racial divisions". The Washington Post. p. B5.
  13. ^ a b c Wright, James (April 18, 2013). "D.C. Political Roundup". Washington Informer: 2013 Sustainable Living Supplement. p. 5.
  14. ^ Craig, Tim (April 17, 2013). "D.C. Council candidate Mara opposes mandatory restaurant sick leave, minimum wage hike: Republican council candidate is viewed as leading contender in April 23 election". The Washington Post.
  15. ^ Craig, Tim (April 20, 2013). "D.C. Council candidates answer questions on schools, bikes, and more: Six people running in special election for an at-large council seat offer opinions on city's major issues". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ Craig, Tim; DeBonis, Mike (April 19, 2013). "Challenges abound for 6 D.C. Council candidates". The Washington Post. p. B1.
  17. ^ a b c Craig, Tim (April 22, 2013). "Hopeful asked rival to quit race". The Washington Post. p. B1.
  18. ^ Craig, Tim (April 23, 2013). "D.C. Council candidate Silverman releases e-mails to Frumin: E-mails show she asked fellow candidate to drop out of the race". The Washington Post.
  19. ^ Craig, Tim (April 12, 2013). "Kenyan McDuffie endorses Anita Bonds: This may help solidify support in Ward 5 behind Bonds ahead of the Sept. 23 special election". The Washington Post.
  20. ^ Craig, Tim (April 17, 2013). "Ambrose endorses Silverman; Bonds wins straw poll as D.C. council race heats up: The seven candidates in the April 23 council race are increasing efforts to line up support". The Washington Post.
  21. ^ DeBonis, Mike (April 18, 2013). "D.C. test cheating: Time to move on?". The Washington Post.
  22. ^ Craig, Tim; DeBonis, Mike (April 24, 2013). "Bonds retains D.C. Council seat". The Washington Post. p. B1.
  23. ^ a b "Special Election Certified Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections. May 10, 2013. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  24. ^ DeBonis, Mike (April 10, 2014). "Democrats consider independent runs for council". The Washington Post. p. B2.
  25. ^ a b c DeBonis, Mike (May 20, 2014). "Elissa Silverman in, Tommy Wells out of D.C. Council at-large race". The Washington Post.
  26. ^ DeBonis, Mike (October 27, 2014). "Large and varied slate scrambles for Catania's seat". The Washington Post. p. B1.
  27. ^ Brown, Stacy M. (October 30, 2014). "Silverman Confident of Election Night Victory". Washington Informer. p. 5.
  28. ^ Wright, James (September 20, 2014). "Silverman, White Loom as Top Council At-Large Candidates". Afro-American Red Star. p. A5.
  29. ^ DeBonis, Mike (October 30, 2014). "Muslims are 'obligated' to vote for Bowser and other endorsees, D.C. caucus says". The Washington Post.
  30. ^ Brown, Stacy M. (November 6, 2014). "Bonds, Silverman Claim At-large Council Seats". Washington Informer. p. 20.
  31. ^ Sommer, Will (September 24, 2014). "Silverman, Hagler Land Union Endorsements in At-Large Race". Washington City Paper.
  32. ^ Sommer, Will (October 13, 2014). "Firefighters Stay Out of Attorney General Race, Back Silverman for At-Large". Washington City Paper.
  33. ^ "Vote Like This: Washington City Paper's 2014 General Election Endorsements" (editorial). Washington City Paper. October 29, 2014.
  34. ^ DeBonis, Mike (November 5, 2014). "3 to replace veteran members: Silverman to succeed Catania". The Washington Post. p. A29.
  35. ^ a b "General Election Certified Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections. December 3, 2014. Archived from the original on December 20, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  36. ^ Nirappel, Fenit (August 13, 2016). "Progressive D.C. lawmaker outraised by business-backed challenger, reports show". Washington Post.
  37. ^ Schwartzman, Paul (June 29, 2018). "Why a progressive D.C. lawmaker is suddenly facing opposition". Washington Post. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  38. ^ Howell, Melissa (September 18, 2018). "Fraud findings derail S. Kathryn Allen's bid for DC Council/". WTOP.
  39. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/bowser-rallies-for-dionne-reeder-latest-in-her-push-to-oust-elissa-silverman/2018/10/14/836342d2-ce4b-11e8-a3e6-44daa3d35ede_story.html
  40. ^ O'Connell, Jonathan (March 1, 2016). "D.C. Council member proposes spending cap for Wizards facility". Washington Post.
  41. ^ "Elissa Silverman". Council of the District of Columbia. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  42. ^ Marks, Josh (October 7, 2015). "Silverman, Nadeau bring 'fresh energy' to D.C. Council". Washington Jewish Week.

External linksEdit

Council of the District of Columbia
Preceded by
David Catania
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia