Muriel E. Bowser spoke to the citizens of D.C. on Friday, Sept. 22 during the highly popular radio program “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” and cast all doubts aside saying she will run for a second term for the office of mayor of the District of Columbia.
Later that day she spoke with The Washington Informer for an exclusive interview where she assessed her accomplishments garnered during her first term in office and outlined some of the plans she has for the next four years should voters lean in her favor.
If victorious, Bowser, 45, will become only the third two-term mayor in District history, following Marion Barry and Anthony A. Williams, since 1975 when D.C. moved to electing both its mayor and city council members based on the outcome of the popular vote.
On her way to victory in 2014, Bowser defeated incumbent Mayor Vincent C. Gray in the Democratic primary and then won the general election against three Independent and two minor party candidates with 54.53 percent of the vote, becoming the second woman to be elected mayor after Sharon Pratt Kelly.
Bowser, who grew up along with five other siblings in Northeast, once remarked that she saw herself more as an agency administrator than as a politician. However, since being elected to the D.C. city council in 2007 after Adrian M. Fenty became mayor and endorsed her to succeed him as the member from Ward 4, many of her colleagues and supporters have described her as an astute lawmaker that employs both caution and collaboration while seeking solutions to substantive issues.
When asked how confident she feels in her bid to secure the 2018 mayoral election, Bowser, who, also once served as an ANC commissioner before being elected mayor in 2014, says she plans to campaign vigorously and will “not take D.C.’s voters for granted.”
During our interview, she responded to questions focusing on topics that included: affordable housing and gentrification; public school education and career readiness; her several economic development missions to international countries including China and most recently Canada, aimed at shoring up business relationships and investment opportunities; specific strategies targeting inequities faced by residents East of the River, particularly Ward 8; challenges faced by the District’s transgender community; the quest for D.C. statehood; and messaging and outreach efforts pertaining to millennials, both those already living in the District as well as those who may be attracted to making this their new home.
“When I consider what’s most important for D.C. residents as we look to the future and the issues we must address both as my campaign for the office of mayor proceeds and in the next four years, I must point to greater mobility for our citizens, increasing African-American prosperity, ensuring that our city is climate ready and our remaining focused on continuing to build a tech culture,” she said.
“We’ve done a lot in my first term, from finally establishing our street car system and increasing affordable housing to seeing our public schools outpace the District’s public charter schools and resolving the challenges faced by those who once had to temporarily live at D.C. General, offering short term solutions for those individuals and families while working toward long term remedies for homelessness,” Bowser said.
“D.C. is a special city and a stellar representative of American life. So, we should take advantage of that fact and sell that uniqueness on others — opening more pathways to success.”
“In terms of the sense of isolation felt by many Ward 8 residents, it became clear to me during my first term that even with collaborative public/private ventures, sometimes government must make the first step. One example would be the St. Elizabeths Campus in Anacostia where we invested $60 million to kick-start development.”
When asked if the long push for D.C. statehood could better be described as a realistic goal or simply as a provocative soundbite, Bowser asserted, “It’s an eventual reality.”
“We’ve been able to advance our cause and continue to add new ideas in its support,” she said. “Last year, 80 percent of the voters said they were in favor of statehood. One thing’s for sure — D.C. pride stands at an all-time high — that’s what the voters confirmed. We need to become a city that has a vote in Congress. Without a voting state senator, we have no voice in determining the future of essential legislation like the Affordable Care Act and any proposed changes to it. That’s particularly problematic for our citizens.”
“As for millennials, we don’t really need to craft a message tailored specifically for them — they’re already finding us and moving here in record numbers. The challenge they often face is being able to stay — being able to secure well-paying jobs. That’s why we’re working on our pitch to companies like Amazon who want to establish a second U.S. headquarters that would bring at least 50,000 more jobs for the city that they eventually chose.”
Bowser added that the District will make their official presentation to Amazon later this fall.
She then returned to her campaign and the pace which will soon pickup as Election Day approaches.
“My message to our residents will continue to highlight the tremendous progress we’ve made during my first term, celebrating our city’s growth while keeping the focus on bringing more jobs that offer substantive salaries,” she added. “At the same time, it’s imperative that we make the kinds of investments that will yield significant profits so that even more D.C. residents can enjoy a greater quality of life.”