Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, February 19, 2019

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson comes back to AU

When Muriel Bowser was elected mayor in November last year, AU completed a double: the top two local politicians in the District were graduates of the school. Phil Mendelson, the second top politician in city hall as D.C. Council chairman, graduated from the School of Public Affairs in 1981, and Bowser earned her master’s from the same school in 2000.

Now Mendelson is embracing his inner Wonk.

Last week he greeted 200 freshmen during Welcome Week at the Woods-Brown Amphitheater, encouraging students to get involved in activities outside campus, according to his Facebook page.

Then, on AU Night at Nationals Park Friday, he threw out the first pitch.

Mendelson (D) was elected chairman in 2012, after serving as an at-large member on the D.C. Council since 1998. Earlier this year he wrote about his time at AU in an SPA profile: "Although I was scheduled to graduate in 1974 with a BA in political science, I actually had to take longer because I spent too much of my time active in the Student Government. I ran for Student Association Comptroller, and lost, then became active with what was then called the Inter Club Council. There were many lessons learned then, that are still useful to me today."

Mendelson became involved in neighborhood politics in 1975, when he started serving on a McLean homeowners association, according to his Council bio. Four years later he was later elected to an advisory neighborhood commission in Ward 3.

“We are fortunate to have so many distinguished local alumni including the Chairman and always look for opportunities to bring them back to campus,” Andrew Huff, director of community relations for AU, wrote in an email.

District Wire asked Mendelson last Thursday at his office about being an AU grad.

“Yeah,” he replied, “that secret got out.”

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