Phil Mendelson was first elected to the Council in November 1998 as an At-Large Councilmember. He served the District in that role until June 2012 when, following the resignation of the previous Council Chairman, Phil was selected by his colleagues to take over that role. In November 2012 and 2014, District voters elected and re-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 has purview over matters concerning: the DC Auditor, the District’s budget, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, federal relations, planning and zoning, procurement, regional bodies (Except WMATA and DC Water), the retirement system, statehood and the University of the District of Columbia.
Phil has been an active participant in District politics since 1975, when he became a member of the McLean Gardens Residents Association. In that role he was a large part of the effort to save the 43-acre housing complex from destruction. In 1978, Phil successfully 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 responsible for all legislation affecting criminal laws in the District, as well as 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.
During his tenure on the Council, Phil has authored hundreds of laws. Major accomplishments include: establishing an elected attorney general and an independent Department of Forensic Science (the city’s crime lab); authoring Budget Autonomy, the District’s gun control laws (post-Heller), marriage equality, Universal Paid Leave, and the District’s tree canopy protection law; recrafting Mayor Bowser’s homeless shelter pan to close DC General, and Mayor Gray’s plan to build the DC United Soccer Stadium; establishing the District’s first renewable portfolio standard for electricity generation; coordinating an increase in the minimum wage with Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties; and implementing the recommendations of the 2012 Tax Revision Commission that has made the District’s income tax one of the most progressive in the nation and that has reduced the business franchise tax by almost 20%.
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, who 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 Southeast DC.