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New D.C. Councilman David Grosso says voters tired of 'culture of corruption'

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Local,DC,Liz Farmer

David Grosso, who will be D.C.'s newest at-large council member in January after upsetting incumbent Michael Brown, is already worried about time.

"I woke up this morning and I was afraid that four years was too fast," he told The Washington Examiner on Wednesday. "I'm already worried we're not going to get done all the things I'd love to get done."

Grosso, who wants to have more transparency in campaign finance and the city's budget process, took a wandering path into politics. An advocate for smart urban development, he was born in the District but spent the first half of his childhood on a 65-acre organic farm in Loudoun County. After his parents' divorce, his mother moved 16-year-old Grosso and his five siblings into Petworth in 1987 to start a community of religious activists.

David Grosso
• Lives in Brookland with wife Serra Sippel
• Georgetown University law degree
• Volunteered with refugees in Honduras and a homeless shelter in Texas
• A former D.C. Council and Capitol Hill staffer
• Most recently a CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield lawyer
• Has pledged to be a full-time councilman

Grosso, 42, grew up watching his mother fight for her causes -- in 1992, she went on a 40-day hunger strike on the U.S. Capitol steps to mark the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus conquering the New World. Following his own volunteer work and law degree, Grosso became a council staffer and later an aide to D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

In 2008, he became CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield's vice president of public policy, but he said he was lured into politics by the string of ethics breaches by some city officials that led to a federal investigation into government corruption.

His campaign took advantage of that by highlighting Brown's own financial problems. But Grosso said it was the voters' exhaustion with the "culture of corruption" and not his attacks that won him the seat.

"They wanted somebody new up there that could make that [change] happen," Grosso said. "I think I've presented a good case that I could be the person that does that."

Grosso's victory came after a year that has seen resignations and guilty pleas to federal charges by two council members. Voters have also approved three amendments to the city's charter that target officials' conduct while in office. One allows for council members to expel a colleague from the legislature, while the others ban council members or mayors who commit a felony while in office from serving in that office again.

However, someone who resigns before pleading guilty, as did former Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. and former Council Chairman Kwame Brown, could avoid the ban.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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