Former DC Councilman Jim Graham dies, tributes pour in

FILE - This Dec. 20, 2004, file photo, shows Washington Councilman Jim Graham during a news conference in Washington. A federal grand jury is investigating the awarding of the $38 million contract to run the District of Columbia lottery, a process that raises further questions about corruption in a city government already beleaguered by criminal prosecutions. At rear left is fellow Councilman Phil Mendelson. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf, File)

Jim Graham, a former member of the DC Council, has died according to the DC Council Secretary. Graham was 72 years old, according to his former Chief of Staff Calvin Woodland.

Graham, who served nearly 20 years on the DC Council as a representative of Ward 1, was the first Executive Director of the Whitman-Walker Health Clinic.

According to Woodland, Graham had been in a poor health condition for the past several months and had been in the hospital more often than he's been out of the hospital during that time.

Chairman Phil Mendelson issued this statement on Graham Thursday:

I am saddened to learn of the passing, earlier today, of former Councilmember Jim Graham.
Jim and I joined the Council in the same year; we were classmates. Jim had a strong commitment to the District that pre-dated his election to the Council. His work at Whitman Walker Clinic in the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic was widely and highly regarded.
On the Council, Jim worked especially hard on issues like homelessness, juvenile justice, diversity, and public transportation. The District thanks him for his long public service and many accomplishments. He left our city a better place.

Graham was defeated by current Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau in the 2014 election. Nadeau issued this statement after hearing the news:

“I offer my deepest condolences to the friends and family of Councilmember Graham. It was no secret that we did not always see eye to eye, but there was no question as to his deep love for the people of Ward 1. As a Councilmember he leaves a legacy of fierce advocacy on behalf of District residents. As the director of the Whitman Walker Clinic his tireless work fighting for LGBTQ rights and to end HIV/AIDS was pioneering and touched lives across the District and around the country. In his many years of service, he was dedicated to leaving the world a better place than he found it. He will be missed.

Councilmember Vincent C. Gray released the following statement:

I am deeply saddened to learn this afternoon of the death of my friend and former colleague Councilmember Jim Graham.
Jim's deep commitment to serving and helping people cannot be overstated. Before being elected to the Council, Jim had already made his mark as a leader. As Executive Director of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, Jim was instrumental in raising awareness and combating the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1990s.
Jim was hardworking, brilliant, unique, always fascinating and a very skilled, thoughtful legislator.
Our city is better because of Jim Graham's efforts. I will miss him.

Mayor Muriel Bowser released the following statement:

Jim Graham embodied DC values. Jim was a fierce champion for Ward 1 and led the way in fighting to preserve and protect affordable housing in booming neighborhoods. He was also a tireless advocate for LBGTQ rights and access to health care. Jim welcomed all neighbors and showed us that DC’s diversity alone does not make us great, but instead our embrace and celebration of our diversity does.
I am saddened to hear of the passing of Councilmember Graham, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Today, as I fight to include more Washingtonians in the District’s prosperity, I do so on the shoulders of leaders like Jim who fought to prove that moving DC forward means leaving no residents behind.

Councilmember Anita Bonds issued this statement:

Councilmember Graham spent his entire career in service to community. His compassion for people and his actions to uplift the poor and displaced is reflected in countless lives he enriched across Ward 1 and the District.
The son of Scottish immigrants, Graham was known for his strong support of the District’s immigrant community, strengthening tenant rights, championing LGBTQ rights, and for providing outstanding constituent services.
He will also be remembered for his 15 years of service as the Executive Director of the Whitman Walker Clinic when the AIDS epidemic took the lives of too many residents in the 1980's-90's. Under his leadership, the clinic became one of the top HIV/AIDS health service providers in the nation.
Additionally, Graham served two separate terms as Chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's Board of Directors, as Clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, and was a proud Gay Democrat serving as a Delegate to the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) released the following statement:

The District of Columbia has lost one of its most dedicated public servants in Jim Graham, and I am deeply saddened at the loss of a good friend. My thoughts and condolences are with Jim’s family and friends. Jim represented Ward 1, but he served with a city-wide vision and fought tirelessly for the rights of all D.C. residents. His determination to win equal treatment and rights for the LGBTQ community drove him to public service. For his 16 years on the D.C. Council, I was proud to fight alongside Jim to help make D.C. the city it is today. I will miss my friend.

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