Final Legislative Meeting of 2014 sees soccer stadium approval, heartfelt farewells to outgoing CMs

In the final meeting of Council Period 20 (which began in January of 2013 and will end when newly-elected Councilmembers are sworn in on January 2), consensus and camaraderie were on display.

The biggest news made at the meeting came with the second and final vote of approval of a new stadium for the DC United soccer team.  Yet even that consequential vote, and the related vote on a budgetary shift required for the stadium’s financing, were unanimous.

On a topic which had drawn spirited debate on first reading, the proposed new date for DC primary elections, a compromise was reached in advance which allowed for a unanimous voice vote for the bill’s final approval.  Under the compromise, primaries for local elections will shift from April to June for the 2016 election, and will ultimately shift back to September (their previous, longstanding timing) in 2018. In 2018 and moving forward, primaries for federal offices (President, Delegate) will be held in June, with primaries for local offices held three months later in September.

Approved on a 12 to 1 voice vote was a revision to DC gun control law, prompted by a recent court decision striking down DC’s handgun ban.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the lingering sadness following the passing of colleague Marion Barry was compounded by the need to bid farewell to four outgoing councilmembers.  After Chairman Mendelson and the other remaining councilmembers paid tribute to their departing colleagues, the four outgoing councilmembers each spoke in turn.  The remarks by Councilmembers Bowser, Catania, Graham, and Wells ran the gamut, from regret to fond remembrance, and from architectural observation to clever and biting humor.  By the end, in a Council chamber which has borne witness to a wide range of emotions across the two years of Council Period 20, there were few if any dry eyes.

For a full listing of all votes taken at the meeting, click here.

Council Period 21, by the Numbers

Looking forward to 2015 and Council Period 21, for the first four months of the term, the Council will have only eleven members.   Vacancies in Ward 4 (due to Councilmember Bowser’s election as mayor) and Ward 8 (due to Marion Barry’s passing) will not be filled until the April 28, 2015 special election.   After that date, the Council will again have its full complement of thirteen members for the first time since Councilmember Barry’s passing on November 23.

Errata Notice: This article references a 12 to 1 vote on the District’s gun control law. The measure was approved by an 11 to 1 vote.