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Graham was first elected in 1998 and has won reelection three times since. He is the second openly gay elected official in D.C., after David Catania. He is a naturalized immigrant from Wishaw, Scotland and currently resides in Adams Morgan.
Jim Graham has served as chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's board of directors twice—once in 2003 and again in 2009. Most recently he was replaced in 2010 by Peter Benjamin, one of the board members representing Maryland.
Graham's parents, neither of whom had high school degrees, settled in Hyattsville, Maryland after emigrating from Scotland. A graduate of Michigan State University where he was a student politician and vice president of the National Student Association, Graham received a J.D. degree from the University of Michigan Law School and a L.L.M. from Georgetown University Law Center. He was a clerk for Chief Justice Earl Warren and held a staff attorney position with the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee (chaired by Senator Abe Ribicoff, D-Connecticut). He is experienced in private, agency and public interest law. Graham has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and George Washington University, as well as supervising instructor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Graham is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to taking a seat on the city council, Graham was executive director of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, a non-profit organization that provides services to AIDS and HIV patients in Washington. He is a recovering alcoholic and "came out" as gay after leaving federal employment.
Gay community pioneer
In October 1979, Graham joined Whitman-Walker Clinic’s board. He helped the clinic survive its initial funding crises and in April 1981 became president of the board. Within three years, he became the executive director, leading the clinic’s response to AIDS for 15 years (1984–1999). Under his leadership the clinic became a leading HIV/AIDS institution, with more than 1,200 volunteers, 270 full-time employees, and satellite operations in Southeast Washington, Maryland and Virginia. When Graham left Whitman-Walker in January 1999, it had become one of the most comprehensive community based medical organizations responding to HIV/AIDS in the country.
In 1984, dismayed by the quality of legal support, Graham himself undertook the legal aid counseling of those with AIDS for 18 months: "I went to dying people to straighten out their legal affairs ... in addition to other duties. It carried me right into the trenches; it created the whole experience. I vividly remember going to the bedsides, the horrible circumstances. ... It was extremely emotional." In an oral history for the Rainbow History Project, Graham commented, "We’ve had one of the greatest epidemics of all time and this was the history, the history of the community banding together and helping itself. It was a phenomenal story." He says of the time: "It was the most difficult period that I’ve ever been through, there’s no question."[this quote needs a citation]
Current DC Council Committees
Graham is a member of the following committees in the D.C. Council:
- Committee on Human Services (Chair)
- Committee of the Whole
- Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
- Committee on Transportation and the Environment
- Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs
- D.C. AIDS Task Force (member since 1983)
- AIDS Action Council (previous Board member)
- National Lesbian and Gay Health Foundation (previous Board member)
- Coalition for Consumers Health and Safety
- Washington AIDS Partnership (previous Advisory Committee member)
- Concerned Citizens on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Inc. (previous Advisory Board member)
- National AIDS Network (previous Treasurer and Board member)
In early 2005, Graham was accused (allegedly by Washington businessman Sinclair Skinner) of driving historically African-American businesses from the neighborhoods of Columbia Heights, Shaw, and the U Street corridor. The Washington City Paper reported on the accusation:
In early 2005, just as the Club U issue was heating up, posters portraying Graham as a reptile holding a pitchfork labeled "Grahamzilla" appeared on light poles and street signs around the ward. Another set of posters depicted Graham standing on a porch partying with young white men at the Graham "plantation." The latter included an illustration showing "Graham opponents" hanging from a gallows. The posters stretched the limits of political speech and disappeared quickly after they were put up.
On September 24, 2009, Graham's Chief of Staff, Ted Loza, was arrested by the FBI and charged with two counts of accepting bribes. The indictment alleges that Loza accepted two payments and promised to promote the legislation and policies concerning D.C. taxi cabs that the alleged briber wanted. Mr. Graham is the chairman of the committee that oversees taxi cab regulation, but he voluntarily gave up oversight of cabs after Loza's arrest.
- "Voters Guide 2006 Supplement" (PDF). The Washington Informer. 2006-09-24.
- Snyder, Karen (2006). "Candidates for Ward 1 member of D.C. City Council Jim Graham". The Common Denominator. Archived from the original on 1007-09-28. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- Voter Guide. "Jim Graham" Thursday, January 6, 2005; Page DZ13
- Layton, Lyndsey. "Graham Blankets Ward 1, The District's Most Diverse". The Washington Post. 2006-08-19. Page B01.
- Councilmember Jim Graham on What it’s All About, People's District
- "Jim Graham." Carroll's State Directory. Carroll Publishing, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009. galent.galegroup.com Fee via Fairfax County Public Library, accessed 2009-06-04. Document Number: K2416014673.
- "Rainbowhistory.org".[dead link]
- Jim Graham Papers Finding Aid, Special Collections Research Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, The George Washington University
- Jones, James. "The Graham Crusade". Washington City Paper. 2005-12-02.
- Washington, The (2009-09-24). "Washingtontimes.com". Washingtontimes.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
|Council of the District of Columbia|
|Ward 1 Member, Council of the District of Columbia
1999 – present