Phil was raised in Cleveland, Ohio in a family dedicated to public service. His mother was a national crusader for nursing home reform, and his grandmother was appointed to the Federal Office of Price Administration by President Roosevelt after serving as the President of the Michigan State League of Women Voters.

Phil moved to the District of Columbia to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from American University. He quickly became involved in local politics as a tenant activist and an officer for his local residents association, where he fought to save his 43-acre housing complex from destruction. In 1979, Phil was elected as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for his neighborhood of McLean Gardens.



Experienced Advocate for Every DC Neighborhood


Phil was first elected to the DC Council as an At-Large Councilmember in 1998, and later served for eight years as the chair of the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary. During his tenure he oversaw all legislation affecting criminal laws in the District, had oversight over public safety agencies, and worked with former Police Chief Cathy Lanier to lower the incidence of violent crime in DC. In 2012, Phil’s colleagues selected him to become the Chairman of the DC Council following the resignation of his predecessor. Subsequently, voters elected and reelected Phil as Chairman in 2012, 2014, and 2018.

As Chairman, Phil leads the Council on all legislative matters. He also serves as the chair for the Committee of the Whole with specific oversight of the District budget, Council relations with the federal government, planning and zoning, DC statehood, the retirement system, the University of the District of Columbia, the DC auditor, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and DCPS and charter schools.



Progressive Victories for DC Families


While serving on the Council, Phil has authored hundreds of laws for the benefit of DC residents. During his tenure and under his leadership, the Council has fought for substantive changes with real results for families across the District. Some of the legislation championed by Phil Mendelson includes:

  • Strengthening the District’s gun control laws (which have withstood court challenges) by regulating gun possession, expanding background checks, and implementing a 10 day wait period between purchase and possession.
  • Legalizing same-sex marriage in 2009 when only a handful of states allowed it.
  • Granting the District autonomy over its own budget, independent from Congress.
  • Establishing universal paid leave for DC families.
  • Co-introducing the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act to emphasize mental health approaches to public safety.
  • Implementing new standards for tree protection in the District of Columbia.
  • Establishing the District’s first renewable portfolio standard for electricity generation.
  • Coordinating increases in the minimum wage, working with Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
  • Implementing tax changes to make the District’s individual income tax the most progressive in the nation.
  • Establishing an elected Attorney General for the District of Columbia.
  • Creating an independent Department of Forensic Science.
  • Adopting requirements for short term rental units (e.g. Airbnb) to legalize thousands of rentals while protecting rental apartment buildings from illegal conversions.
  • Breaking up the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs into two agencies to better focus on illegal construction and housing and code enforcement.
  • Approving the Racial Equity Achieve Change (REACH) Act to require racial equity impact assessments for most legislation and requiring the Mayor to establish an Office of Racial Equity.



Phil lives in the Capitol Hill neighborhood with his partner Ana and their two cats, Archie and Luna. He is a proud adoptive parent to his daughter Addie.