Phil Mendelson was first elected to the Council of the District of Columbia in November of 1998 as an At-Large Councilmember. He served the District in that role until June 2012 when, following the departure of the previous Council Chairman, Phil was selected by his colleagues to take over that role. In November 2012, District voters overwhelmingly elected Phil as Chairman of the Council.
As Chairman, Phil leads the Council on all legislative matters. Phil also presides over the Committee of the Whole which includes: the DC Auditor; Board of Zoning Adjustment; District of Columbia Community College; District of Columbia Retirement Board; District Statehood Commission; District Statehood Compact Commission; Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments; National Capital Planning Commission; Office of Budget and Planning; Office of Planning; Office of Zoning; Tax Revision Commission; Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporation; University of the District of Columbia; and the Zoning Commission.
In 2014 Phil was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), a position he also held in 2004. The COG Board is comprised of local and state elected officials from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. As Chairman, Phil will continue to work with regional colleagues to further the common goals and interests in moving the region forward.
Phil has been an active participant in District politics since 1975, when he became a member of the McLean Gardens Residents’ Association. In this role he was a large part of the effort to save the 43-acre housing complex from destruction. In 1979 Phil succesfully ran for a seat on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and continued to serve as an ANC Commissioner until he took office as an At-Large Member of the Council.
Prior to becoming Chairman, Phil served eight years as Chair of the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary. In this role he was responsibile for oversight over the District’s public safety agencies–including the Metropolitan Police Department, Fire & Emergency Medical Services Department, and the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia–as well as legislation impacting criminal laws in the District. As Chair of this Committee, Phil conducted robust oversight over the operations and budget of those agencies under his jurisdiction, and guided numerous public safety measures through the Council. Among the bills approved by the Council during his term as Chair were: a number of omnibus public safety measures; reform of, and updates to, the District’s gun laws (in response to the Supreme Court’s Heller decision); marriage equality; medical marijuana legislation; the establishment of an elected Attorney General; and an overhaul of the District’s drunk driving laws.
Phil believes that government should be an honest, efficient deliverer of services, and that the District should help those least able to help themselves to develop the skills to become self-sufficient and end the cycle of poverty. Phil believes that government must accomplish this without increasing the tax burdens already shouldered by our middle income residents. Throughout his years of public service, Phil has maintained that the District, as the nation’s capital, should be a model of service delivery–in public education, public safety, and public health.
Phil came to the District from Cleveland, Ohio in 1970 to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from American University. He grew up in a family dedicated to public service. His mother was a national crusader for nursing home reform. His grandmother had been President of the Michigan State League of Women Voters, was appointed by President Roosevelt to the Federal Office of Price Administration, and was a founder of the Grand Rapids Urban League.
Phil has an adorable daughter Adelaide, who attends DC Public Schools. He lives in Northwest DC.