Brianne Nadeau

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Brianne K. Nadeau
Brianne Nadeau official.jpg
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
from Ward 1
Assumed office
January 2, 2015
Preceded by Jim Graham
Personal details
Born 1980 or 1981 (age 37–38)[1]
Political party Democratic
Domestic partner Jayson Harpster [1]
Alma mater Boston College, American University

Brianne Nadeau (born 1980) is a Democratic politician in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Council of the District of Columbia representing Ward 1 since 2015. She defeated long-time incumbent Jim Graham in the Democratic Party primary and won the general election with 75% of the vote in 2014. She is the first woman to represent Ward 1 on the Council and the first D.C. Councilmember to give birth while serving in office.[4]

Early life and professional career[edit]

Brianne K. Nadeau was born into a Jewish family in Michigan,[2][3] growing up in Grosse Pointe.[5] A Girl Scout for 13 years, she earned a Gold Award, the Scouts' highest honor.[6] Nadeau has said that Girl Scouts taught her to look for work and to leave things better than you found them.[7]

Nadeau graduated from Boston College with a bachelor's degree in political science[2] in 2002.[8] She also earned a master's degree in public policy from American University[2] in 2006.[9] She worked as a scheduler for Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland.[10]

Nadeau worked as a public relations consultant and vice president for Rabinowitz Communications,[11] where she promoted progressive causes for nonprofit organizations.[12] Nadeau was a member of the board of directors of Jews United for Justice,[11] a charitable organization that helps pursue justice and equality in local community.[13] She was active in the District of Columbia chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.[11]

Political experience[edit]

Advisory Neighborhood Commission[edit]

Nadeau served as Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Single Member District 1B05 from 2007[14] to 2010.[15]

2014 Campaign for Council and election[edit]

Nadeau ran against four-term member of the Council of the District of Columbia Jim Graham in the Democratic Party primary election in 2014.[12] Her candidacy was endorsed by At-large Council Member David Grosso,[16] Ward Six Council Member Tommy Wells,[12] progressive political action committee Democracy for America,[17] and the editorial boards of the Washington Post,[18] the Washington City Paper[19] and Northwest Current.[20]

During her campaign, Nadeau emphasized issues affordable housing, transportation, constituent services, and the need to provide long-term solutions to recurring problems.[3]

Nadeau criticized Graham for actions he took in 2008 which resulted in the District Council reprimanding Graham for improperly interfering with the awarding of a government contract.[21] Graham said his actions may have been political horsetrading rather than anything illegal or unethical.[22]

During the campaign, Graham accused Nadeau of irregularities in connection to a home-buyer program.[23] According to Graham, in 2009 Nadeau had asked Graham and then-Council Chair Vincent Gray for help with a home-buyer program.[23] Nadeau had been approved for the loan two years earlier, but the income-based loan guarantee was reduced because her salary had increased since then.[23] Graham said that signing her letters with her title as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner was inappropriate and unethical.[23] Nadeau defended the letters, saying she was about to lose her home and simply advocated for herself the best way she could.[23] Following an investigation, the Inspector General cleared Nadeau and found that all the allegations were unsubstantiated.[24]

Nadeau defeated Graham in the primary election by a wide margin.[25] In the general election, Nadeau was on the ballot with independent Ernest Johnson[26] and Libertarian John Vaught LaBeaume; there was no Republican candidate on the ballot.[11] Nadeau went on to win the general election as well.[27]

In 2016, her 2014 campaign was audited by the Office of Campaign Finance.[28]

2018 Campaign for Council[edit]

In mid-2017, Nadeau announced that she would run for a second term on the DC Council.[29] As of August 2017, she had outraised her challengers, with approximately one-third of her campaign contributions coming from developers, lawyers, lobbyists, and corporations.[28] Nadeau, along with several other council members, sends out periodic mailers to her constituents. The practice has been criticized as possible taxpayer-funded campaigning.[30]

Time on the Council of the District of Columbia[edit]

Nadeau speaking in 2017

Human Services Committee[edit]

In 2017, Nadeau became Chair of the D.C Council’s Human Services Committee.[31]


In 2015, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the District’s welfare program, was scheduled to terminate benefits for 6,000 very-low income families.[32] Prior to her tenure as chair of the Human Services Committee, Nadeau introduced a bill that would have extended benefits for many of the families scheduled to lose support.[33] As chair, she passed a reform of TANF along the lines of her earlier bill that would not cut benefits.[34]

Homeless Services Reform Act[edit]

During Nadeau's tenure as chair, Mayor Bowser in 2017 proposed a bill to reform the District’s emergency homelessness system that would increase from one to two the number of documents homeless residents would need to prove their District residency.[35] The bill was opposed by a coalition of homeless services providers for its more stringent proof-of-residency requirements, some of which were moderated.[36][37] The Washington Post editorial board supported the bill.[38] The reform was passed in May 2018.[39][40]

Disability Reform[edit]

Also during Nadeau’s tenure as chair, the Human Services Committee considered reform of the Department of Disability Services to end the practice of civil commitments for persons with intellectual disabilities. The reform passed the Council and will become law on May 18, 2018.[41]

D.C. Fair Elections Act[edit]

In December 2015, Nadeau co-introduced the D.C. Fair Elections Act, which would use public funds to match campaign contributions to candidates who agree to accept lower maximum contribution limits.[28] The bill passed the DC Council, and was signed into law by Mayor Bowser in March 2018.[42]

Affordable Housing[edit]

Nadeau serves on the D.C. Council’s Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization.[43] Nadeau was one of two Councilmembers to vote against a bill that would exempt all single-family homes from the tenant protections of the District’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act.[44] Nadeau told a reporter that the bill was too broad and did not find a balance between the rights of homeowners and renters.[45]

In July 2015, Nadeau proposed emergency legislation to facilitate the sale of land at 965 Florida Avenue NW by the District of Columbia to developers MRP Realty, Ellis Development, and JBG Smith.[46] The city sold the parcels for $400,000, well below their estimated value of between $5 million and $27.6 million.[47] Nadeau defended the decision in an op-ed in the Washington Post. She cited her commitment to affordable housing and explained the District discounted the price of the land in exchange for the developer building 106 units of affordable housing on the site as well as a grocery store with 270 permanent jobs.[48]

Gun Violence[edit]

In the wake of the Pulse shooting, Nadeau called on Congress to address gun violence in local communities and stop blocking District laws.[49] In 2017, Nadeau introduced a bill that would authorize a court to issue a temporary civil protection order, temporarily prohibiting someone from having firearms if the court has a reasonable belief that the subject poses an immediate risk to themselves or others.[50] The D.C. Council’s Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on the bill on March 22, 2018.[51][52]

Baby Boxes[edit]

In 2014, Nadeau introduced a bill to provide “baby boxes” for all newborns in the District to encourage safe sleep practices and reduce the infant mortality rate, which in the District in 2014 was 27 percent above the national rate.[53][54] The boxes are lined with a firm mattress and a fitted sheet and serve as a bassinet for infants. They come with essential items such as diapers, wipes and onesies.[55]

Street Harassment[edit]

Nadeau has spoken publicly about her experiences of street harassment as a woman in public space in the District, including by a government employee on duty in uniform.[56] She introduced a bill to end street harassment in the District. The bill focuses on education and training and creates a task force to study and collect data on the issue.[57] At Nadeau’s request, the Council held its first ever hearing on the subject in 2015.[58]

Pepco-Exelon merger[edit]

In May 2015, Nadeau opposed the proposed merger between Exelon and Pepco, expressing concerns about the impact on costs and renewable energy.[59][60][61] In October 2015, Nadeau changed her position and urged regulators to support the deal, stating that her original concerns had been addressed by a settlement among Exelon, the Mayor, Attorney General, and Office of the People’s Counsel that included additional concessions from Exelon.[62][61]


Nadeau serves on the following committees:[63]

  • Committee on Human Services, Chair
  • Committee on Government Operations
  • Committee on Health
  • Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization
  • Committee of the Whole

Personal life[edit]

Nadeau had lived in the District of Columbia for 13 years when she was elected to the Council in 2014.[11] She lives in the Park View neighborhood and is married to Jayson Harpster, a Kaiser Permanente consultant.[64]

Nadeau and Harpster’s daughter Zoe was born in September 2017. Nadeau is the first D.C. Councilmember to give birth while in office.[4] Nadeau made national headlines when she pumped from the dais while chairing a long hearing. Nadeau stated that she did not want to recess the committee.[65] Nadeau has written about her experience being a working mother on the Council.[66]

Electoral Results[edit]

2006 General Election, Advisory Neighborhood Commission, Single Member District 1B05[14]
Party Candidate Votes %
Non-partisan Brianne K. Nadeau 175 64
Non-partisan Howard P. Wilson 92 34
  Write-In 6 2
2008 General Election, Advisory Neighborhood Commission, Single Member District 1B05[15]
Party Candidate Votes %
Non-partisan Brianne K. Nadeau 518 96
  Write-In 24 4
2014 Democratic Primary, Council of the District of Columbia, Ward 1[67]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brianne K. Nadeau 6,688 59
Democratic Jim Graham 4,642 41
Democratic Write-In 57 1
2014 General Election, Council of the District of Columbia, Ward 1[68]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brianne K. Nadeau 17,024 75
Independent Ernest E. Johnson 2,021 9
Libertarian John Vaught LaBeaume 829 4
  Write-In 207 1


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  2. ^ a b c d "Brianne Nadeau" (PDF). The Northwest Current. March 12, 2014. p. V3. 
  3. ^ a b c Nnamdi, Kojo (January 31, 2014). "The Politics Hour" (transcript). WAMU. 
  4. ^ a b FOX. "Brianne Nadeau discusses being first female DC council member to give birth while serving in office". WTTG. Retrieved 2018-05-15. 
  5. ^ rgross. "8 Questions for DC Councilmember Brianne Nadeau". Moment Magazine. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Yates, Clinton (January 31, 2014). "The girl scout vs. grizzled vet". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Q&A: District of Columbia Councilmember Brianne Nadeau". Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. October 15, 2016.
  8. ^ "2013-2014 Honor Roll of Donors". Boston College Alumni and Parents. Boston College. 2014. 
  9. ^ Fuller, Jaime (July 25, 2013). "Run, Women, Run!". The American Prospect. 
  10. ^ Gale, Rebecca (July 12, 2013). "Hill Staffers Switch to Campaigning for Public Office". Roll Call. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Pollak, Suzanne (November 5, 2014). "Nadeau wins seat on D.C. council". Washington Jewish Week. 
  12. ^ a b c Svitek, Patrick (March 19, 2014). "In Ward 1, 4-term incumbent Jim Graham tries to fend off tough challenge in Brianne Nadeau". The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ "Together we're building a movement where our boldest visions will become reality". Jews United for Justice. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "General Election 2006: Certified Official Results" (PDF). District of Columbia Board of Elections. November 21, 2006. 
  15. ^ a b "General Election 2008: Certified Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections. November 24, 2008. 
  16. ^ Sommer, Will (January 28, 2014). "Grosso Endorses Graham Challenger Brianne Nadeau". Washington City Paper. 
  17. ^ Sommer, Will (March 19, 2014). "Progressive Groups Make Council Endorsements". Washington City Paper. 
  18. ^ "The Post's choices in the Democratic primary for D.C. Council" (editorial). The Washington Post. March 14, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Who to Vote for (and Who Not to Vote for) in D.C.'s 2014 Democratic Primary" (editorial). Washington City Paper. March 26, 2014. 
  20. ^ "For Ward 1 Council" (editorial). The Northwest Current. March 12, 2014. p. 8. 
  21. ^ Craig, Tim (February 23, 2013). "D.C. Council reprimands Jim Graham in lottery contract flap". The Washington Post. 
  22. ^ Madden, Patrick (February 22, 2013). "Jim Graham Fights Back Against Reprimand From D.C. Council". WAMU. 
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  25. ^ "D.C. mayoral primary election results". The Washington Post. April 2, 2014. 
  26. ^ Sommer, Will (May 21, 2014). "Failed Mayoral Candidate Plans Ward 1 Bid". Washington City Paper. 
  27. ^ "Jewish Democrat activist wins D.C. council seat". Haaretz. November 6, 2014. 
  28. ^ a b c Jeffrey Anderson (August 10, 2017). "Nadeau Talks a Good Game on Campaign Finance Reform". Washington City Paper. Retrieved August 10, 2017. 
  29. ^ Jamison, Peter (August 1, 2017). "Nadeau off to strong start in Ward 1 reelection fundraising". 
  30. ^ Anderson, Jeffrey (November 2, 2017). "Are Incumbent Mailers Doubling as Taxpayer-Funded Campaign Literature?". Washington City Paper. 
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  33. ^ "D.C. Is Trying to Get More Struggling Moms Back to Work as a Benefit Cut Looms". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2018-05-15. 
  34. ^ "RELEASE: DC Takes Step Forward for Children in Poverty by Reforming TANF". Children's Law Center. 2017-05-26. Retrieved 2018-05-15. 
  35. ^ "The D.C. Council Weighs Stricter Requirements for Shelter Access". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2018-05-15. 
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  37. ^ "D.C. Council edited this homeless services bill to ease access to programs". Street Sense Media. 2017-10-23. Retrieved 2018-05-15. 
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  44. ^ "". Retrieved 2018-05-15.  External link in |title= (help)
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  46. ^ "". Retrieved 2018-05-15.  External link in |title= (help)
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  48. ^ Nadeau, Brianne K. (2015-10-07). "Get serious about affordable housing". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-05-15. 
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  50. ^ "B22-0400 - Extreme Risk Civil Protection Order Amendment Act of 2017". Retrieved 2018-05-15. 
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  58. ^ "Women tell of fear of D.C. street harassment". Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. 2015-12-09. Retrieved 2018-05-15. 
  59. ^ "Nadeau: "Serious Concerns" about PEPCO-Exelon Merger" (Press release). Brianne Nadeau. May 22, 2015. 
  60. ^ Cornish, Stephanie (May 27, 2015). "D.C. Leaders Take Sides on Exelon-Pepco Merger". Afro. Washington DC. Retrieved May 27, 2017. 
  61. ^ a b "Nadeau: Revised Pepco-Exelon Deal" (Press release). Brianne Nadeau. October 28, 2015. 
  62. ^ Gavin, Bade (October 28, 2015). "Letter reveals 7 of 13 DC council members support Exelon-Pepco merger". Utility Drive. 
  63. ^ "DC Councilmember". Council of the District of Columbia. DC Council. Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  64. ^ "Councilmember Nadeau to Marry Longtime Boyfriend". Borderstan. 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2018-05-17. 
  65. ^ Chandler, Michael Alison; Nirappil, Fenit (2017-12-14). "This lawmaker and new mom had a marathon hearing. So she pumped from the dais". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-05-15. 
  66. ^ "Pumping From the Dais: A Working Mom in Public Service". Women's Wire Weekly. Retrieved 2018-05-15. 
  67. ^ "Primary Election Certified Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections. April 23, 2014. 
  68. ^ "General Election Unofficial Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections. November 20, 2014. 
Council of the District of Columbia
Preceded by
Jim Graham
Ward 1 Member, Council of the District of Columbia
2015 – present