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Bowser Declares Run for Mayor

James Wright | 3/27/2013, 12:10 p.m.

D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) announced that she's tossing her hat into the ring as a candidate for the April 2014 Democratic Party primary for mayor. She promised to be a trustworthy leader and to embrace a vision for the city that includes all D.C. residents.

Bowser, 40, said that her run is a natural progression.

"You've trusted me to represent you as an ANC commissioner," she said. "You've trusted me to represent you as your council member. I share your desire to move forward and so today, I announce that I will run to be the next mayor of the District of Columbia," she told scores of friends and supporters who gathered in front of her parents' home in North Michigan Park in Northeast on Saturday, March 23.

Bowser, a District native, was elected a commissioner in 2004 and served in that position until she was elected to replace Adrian Fenty on the D.C. Council in May 2007. Fenty was elected the District's mayor in November 2006.

Bowser worked hard in Fenty's failed campaign for re-election in 2010 and defended his administration to black residents who felt that he was out of touch with their concerns. Fenty lost the September 2010 Democratic primary to Vincent Gray, who was then D.C. Council chairman.

On the D.C. Council, Bowser is known to be responsive to constituent concerns. She's also respected for her principled positions. In December 2011, Bowser made her mark. Her landmark legislation overhauled the city's ethics rules for elected officials and District government employees.

Bowser is the first official candidate to enter the 2014 mayoral race but D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) has formed an exploratory committee for a run and D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) has indicated that he will run, as well.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) has not indicated whether he will run for re-election in 2014, yet.

Bowser talked about her support of marriage equality, support for senior citizens and the need for quality schools during her 30-minute address. She said that in talking with residents around the city, she has detected disappointment in the way in which government is operating.

"Corruption has robbed us of our focus, our momentum, our need to think big and act swiftly," she said, indirectly referring to U.S. Attorney of the District of Columbia's probe into the 2010 Gray campaign and the prosecutions of former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown and former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas. "We've settled into managing the status quo, riding the successes of our past instead of shaping the landscape of the future."

The concern for the future is what attracted Trayon White, the Ward 8 representative to the D.C. State Board of Education, to Bowser.

"We need new innovative leadership," said White, 28. "Muriel Bowser is a champion for the people and I will help her campaign in areas like Barry Farm to make sure that those residents know that she is for the people."

Phinis Jones, a Ward 8 businessman who supported Fenty in 2006 and 2010, said that he's confident that Bowser will be a good mayor, if elected.

"She has demonstrated on the council that she can represent Ward 4 well and I think she can represent the city at large, too," said Jones, 63.

However, Cherita Whiting, a Ward 4 education activist, isn't sold on Bowser, at this point.

"I have not made a commitment to anyone yet," said Whiting, 47. "I did, [however], come here today to hear what she had to say."

District political analyst Chuck Thies said that Bowser has a lot working in her favor.

"She is well received across black, white and Latino communities," said Thies, 48. "She is young but not inexperienced. She is a good public speaker who comes across as interested, caring and unpretentious."

Barbara Lyles lives next door to Bowser's parents and beamed with pride as the mayoral aspirant addressed the crowd.

"I watched her grow up as a child and she was disciplined, obedient, very smart and caring," said Lyles, 74. "I know that she is headed for greatness."