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.
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.
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%. For Fiscal Year 2019, Phil secured dedicated funding for the arts and tax relief targeted to small DC retailers.
Phil believes 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 a daughter, Adelaide, and they live in Southeast DC.