Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser won the race for D.C. mayor Tuesday, defeating independents David Catania and Carol Schwartz to keep the office for the Democrats.
“I’m humbled and I’m grateful to stand here the next mayor of my hometown,” Bowser told supporters in her victory speech Tuesday.
Under Bowser, expect D.C. to continue the path of former Mayor Adrian Fenty and current Mayor Vincent Gray. She was the candidate more closely aligned with D.C.'s political establishment, calling for no radical changes and promising instead to guide the District through continued improvement.
Tuesday night, that establishment was visible when Bowser was joined on stage at Howard Theatre by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Council members Yvette Alexander, Marion Barry, Anita Bonds, Jack Evans, Kenyan McDuffie, Vincent Orange, Tommy Wells and Charles Allen, as well as D.C. Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss. She congratulated several of them, and U.S. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, on their re-elections Tuesday.
Bowser had said during the campaign that her interest in running for office stemmed from "a desire to make good neighborhoods great."
Bowser has promised to improve middle schools, campaigning in the Democratic primary that all middle schools should be held to the standard of Alice Deal Middle School, an integrated school in Northwest Washington and considered the best in the city.
“We believe in education reforms that guarantee every child a fair shot, that the middle class is an American right and that government has a role in getting us there,” Bowser said in her victory speech. “We believe in housing that is clean, safe and affordable, and streets that are safe to walk at night. We believe in health care for all and marriage equality and a sustainable D.C. We believe in a level playing field for women, for African-Americans, for Latinos, and for D.C. residents of every background and belief. We know that taxation without representation is un-American.”
Expect Kaya Henderson to stay on as schools chancellor and to continue education reforms that began under previous Chancellor Michelle Rhee during the Fenty Administration. Bowser also wants the growing number of charter schools to complement public schools, with both options available to all families.
But Bowser rejected Mayor Gray's controversial plan to change the District's school boundaries, saying earlier this year that the proposal was "not ready" and will "exacerbate educational inequality." In a statement in August, Bowser said of the plan, "It lacks the necessary budgetary and leadership commitments to bring about a truly fair neighborhood school assignment policy." She said the next mayor should be the one to make those determinations.
Ethics reform has been in the spotlight during Gray’s four years, with several council members and Gray’s 2010 campaign itself linked to corruption allegations connected to businessman Jeffrey Thompson.
Wedenesday Bowser said ethics would be at the top of her government concerns.
"It is very important to the people of the District of Columbia that we have a government that's focused on the values that we talked about over the last 20 months with integrity at the top of the list," she said.
Bowser drafted the bill the council passed to create an ethics panel and strengthen disclosure rules for council members, but she has been criticized herself. High-level consultant Tom Lindenfeld was removed from her campaign over the summer after he and his company were linked to a mayoral campaign scandal in Philadelphia.
Her name also came up as problems at the Park Southern apartments in southeast D.C. made news. One of the District's largest affordable housing complexes, Park Southern is home to about 700 low-income and no-income tenants.
In April, its nonprofit management team was fired over accusations of mismanagement, missing funds, overdue mortgage payments amounting to millions of dollars, rundown facilities and rat and roach infestations as some of the reasons. Those managers are Bowser supporters, and one of them, Phinis Jones, gave Bowser about $20,000 in campaign contributions from a group of management companies he owns.
A fifth-generation Washingtonian who grew up in North Michigan Park, Bowser, 42, has represented Ward 4 on the council since 2007 and defeated incumbent Mayor Gray in the April Democratic primary.
OTHER DC RACES:
In addition to the re-elections of Mendelson, Holmes Norton and Shadow Sen. Strauss, several other races were decided in the District Tuesday.
Democrat Karl Racine is the city's first elected attorney general.
Democrat Anita Bonds was re-elected to D.C. Council at-large, and former journalist Elissa Silverman was elected as at-large council member as an independent.
Democrats Charles Allen and Brianne Nadeau will join the council, representing wards 6 and 1, respectively.
And Council members McDuffie and Mary Cheh won re-election easily.
Franklin Garcia (D) is D.C.'s next shadow representative in Congress.