Matthew Frumin brings to DC leadership a significant record of community achievement, solution-based workmanship, and coalition-building skills honed in public service here and around the world.
His campaign to join the DC Council builds on 18 years of activism in schools that includes the unique success of Wilson High School’s modernization. That project created a path for parents to challenge and engage the government to think creatively, enhance outcomes and save tax dollars. In addition, the Wilson project established the $100 million facility as a center in community life – a goal lost in so many schools in recent decades.
Today at 53, Matthew sees a path to making the District a model for the nation in quality of life, dedication to opportunity, and social as well as financial prosperity. He currently serves on the Mayor’s Task Force on Undergrounding Power Lines, working with key DC agencies and stakeholders to make our infrastructure reliable and cutting edge for the 21st Century.
He also has served on taskforces assessing and prioritizing traffic safety issues, and on next steps for the Circulator bus system Matthew works extensively with the Washington Interfaith Network, building collaborations with churches, synagogues, and mosques to support job creation, improve schools and promote sustainable storm water management.
Matthew and his wife, Lena, worked as a team to engage neighbors and activists in bottom-up community improvement strategies as their three children grew up in DC, attended public schools and learned their parent’s drive for better living through helping others.
Success in his achievements stems from childhood lessons growing up in the Detroit area, where his mother was a school and political activist. He took campaign literature door to door in campaigns for president and for local school improvements.
“When you lick stamps and send out letters with your mother, it’s a good thing,” he says, “We lost a lot of elections, but we were trying for things we felt strongly about. There is joy in having that sense of community.”
If organizing passion came from his mother, his skill at negotiation and bringing people together came from his father.
“My father’s lesson was simple: He once told me: I don’t think I ever changed anyone’s mind in an argument. He was 75 at the time”
Frumin came to the District after college, working on Capitol Hill and similar assignments before realizing he needed a larger purpose to his life. Based on his new path, he went to law school at George Washington University. Meanwhile, his girlfriend from the University of Michigan who joined the Peace Corps returned and came to Washington. Their wedding followed his first year of law school, the birth of their first child came as Matthew began a law career at Arnold and Porter.
He was recruited to serve as an election observer in Nicaragua in 1989 and from there went on to serve as an election observer or commenting on election laws and constitutions in over 20 countries. In 1998, he took an appointment in the Clinton Administration building on his election work, serving as a Special Assistant to the Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs focusing on democracy, human rights, labor issues, rule of law and women’s issues.
“At that point I was hooked,” he says about participating in processes that engage people in the decision and determine their destiny.
In recent years that sense of activism has driven Matthew to serve on his ANC, to lead the Wilson Management Corporation supporting facilities and programming at Wilson, to be a ubiquitous activist for schools citywide, to serve on city taskforces on powerlines and transportation, to serve on the Board of Teens RunDC and on the Ward 3 Advisory Group on Senior issues to work with the Washington Interfaith Network on many issues and now to seek a seat on the City Council where he can put his experience, energy and skill to ever more effective use to our city.
“One day we had a meeting at Wilson and after the meeting, I walked to the doors where the pool and the playing fields met. It was a beautiful day. The football team was practicing, the girls’ lacrosse team was out there doing their thing, kids were running on the track…. these tall lanky African-American boys running beautifully around the field. As I looked out, I saw every kind of kid, with all these things happening, soccer balls flying.
“All of a sudden it sort of hit me. I felt like –I love this place.”
Matt carries that vision of how a neighborhood can come together, grow families, and impact the future to every DC community.
“Recently, Jophie (his son) and I attended an Anacostia-Ballou game. And it’s the same energy. You can just feel it. And that energy deserves to lead to a first-rate community for all residents.”
A key Frumin promise if elected to the council is to allow every school to engage the community the way Wilson does. “We’ve been pushing DCPS to endorse a standard contract for community entities to use school facilities that we negotiated for Wilson. It’s a little stuck in the bureaucracy right now. But when I get to Council, I promise to get that done,” he said.
Frumin brings skills to the table that generate solutions, consensus support, and actual results.
“On the Council, I will work to extend the benefits that the city has been accruing to as many of our residents as possible in all our communities. I know how to get things done. I bring a tone to the debate that is constructive and mature and my involvement in every issue I have worked on has added value to the city.
“And when I get to the Council, that’s going to happen again.”
Photo by Judy Licht.