Washington DC

DC Election Results: Bowser Wins 3rd Term as Mayor; Voters OK More Pay for Tipped Workers

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser becomes just the second mayor in D.C. history to be elected to a third term

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Incumbent Mayor Muriel Bowser became the second mayor in Washington, D.C., history to be elected to a third term.

Voters in the District were also making decisions on several D.C. Council seats, and a majority voted yes on whether tipped workers should receive minimum wage before their tips.

Muriel Bowser Wins Third Term as DC Mayor

Muriel Bowser is the first D.C. mayor elected to a third term since Marion Barry won his in 1986.

Her opponents were Independent Rodney Red Grant, a D.C. native who has had an entertainment career with BET and his own film company, and Republican small business owner Stacia Hall.

Bowser secured a third term after a campaign focused on her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and on her history as one of the faces of Washington’s ongoing quest for statehood.

In June, Bowser, 50, defeated a pair of challengers from the Council in the Democratic primary, a race that is largely held to be the de facto mayoral race in the overwhelmingly Democratic district.

Bowser has largely presided over a period of prosperity but has faced steady accusations of being too close to developers and business interests as an uncontrolled gentrification wave prices out longtime Black residents.

Grant, a longtime actor and comedian, took aim at that perception, saying in a campaign video that Bowser has “focused on developing buildings in our city but has forgotten to develop our youth and a real comprehensive plan to reduce crime.”

Public safety and crime dominated the primary campaign. Homicides have risen for four years straight, and the 2021 murder count of 227 was the highest since 2003. Both primary challengers, D.C. Council members Robert White and Trayon White, harshly criticized her response to the spiraling violent crime rates.

But despite her vulnerability on public safety and rising public anxiety over crime, Bowser emerged from the Democratic primary with a double-digit victory and was projected by The Associated Press to win the general election by an even larger margin.

Bowser gained national attention in the summer of 2020. Following mass protests over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, she publicly feuded with then-President Donald Trump after racial justice protesters were forcibly cleared from an area near the White House.

Bowser responded by renaming the protest epicenter Black Lives Matter Plaza and commissioning a mural with “Black Lives Matter” painted on a stretch of 16th Street, one block from the White House, in giant yellow letters. The move was publicly dismissed as “performative” by the local Black Lives Matter affiliate, a regular Bowser critic.

Under pressure from activists calling to defund the police, Bowser largely stood by her police department, fighting public battles with the D.C. Council over the police budget. She quietly replaced an older white police chief with a younger Black successor and has pushed for funding to build Metropolitan Police Department staffing, currently at 3,500, up to 4,000 officers over the next decade.

Initiative 82: Tipped Workers to Get Minimum Wage

Voters in the District decided that tipped workers should get the same minimum wage as every other worker in D.C.

This wasn't the first time that people in D.C. were asked this question — voters said yes in 2018, but the will of the voters was overturned by the D.C. Council. Now the question was on the ballot again, and voters again said yes.

Initiative 82 will gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers in places such as salons, parking lots and restaurants from the current $5.35 per hour to more than $16 per hour by 2027.


DECISION 2022 🗳️: D.C. voters will decide if tipped workers should get the same $16 minimum wage as other workers in the District. News4’s Mauricio Casillas explains how Initiative 82 would work. #dc #districtofcolumbia #maryland #virginia #elections

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The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington had warned against increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers, stating, "Restaurants will be forced to raise many prices, layoff staff, add service charges to checks and potentially shut their doors." However, those in favor pointed to the fact that several other states — including California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada — passed similar measures, and they argued that the restaurant industry in those states has continued to grow.

Geoff Tracy, a prominent local chef with two restaurants in D.C., opposed the measure, but he stopped short of predicting it will lead to layoffs or restaurant closures. Rather he described it as providing the illusion of change without actually accomplishing much.

Tracy said servers and bartenders in his restaurants make below $6 per hour, but after tips the servers average $36 per hour and the bartenders make more than $40. He predicted that adding another $10 per hour to their base pay would simply force a new service charge, drive down tipping and, in the end, everybody would be making about the same amount or less.

“I'm not really a big fan of raising prices on my customer base,” Tracy said. “Really the only beneficiary will be the District of Columbia, which is going to charge 6% taxes on all these new service charges.”

Ryan O’Leary, one of the leaders of the pro-Initiative 82 campaign and a former tipped server, said the initiative was meant to protect some of the most vulnerable members of the hospitality industry. O'Leary said the strongest internal opposition has come from “really well-established bartenders who are at the top of the pecking order.”

Several councilmembers who voted to overturn the previous initiative have publicly stated they would not do so again if the new measure succeeded.

DC Council: Two At-Large Seats Open

Competition was crowded for the two available At-Large seats on the D.C. Council. Eight candidates, including three Council incumbents, were vying for just two seats.

One incumbent Democrat, Anita Bonds, and one incumbent Independent, Elissa Silverman, were seeking reelection. The field of candidates also included four other Independents, a Republican and a Statehood-Green candidate, as well as current Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie.

Silverman issued a short news release Wednesday evening saying she had called Bonds and McDuffie to congratulate each of them for being one of the two top vote getters in the race.

Eleanor Holmes Norton Seeks to Remain DC Delegate

Holmes Norton, now 85, has represented D.C. in Congress since 1991.

DC Council Chair

Incumbent Democrat Phil Mendelson is projected to win with 83% of the vote after 22% precincts reported. He has held this role since 2012 and previously served as an at-large member of the Council for 14 years before that. Mendelson won the Democratic primary in June and faced little-known Republican Nate Derenge, a supply chain analyst who has emphasized Council oversight as his platform.

Ward 1 Council Member

Incumbent Brianne Nadeau beat beat Chris Otten of the Statehood Green party -- an operations director for a community organization.

Ward 3 Council Member

Democrat Mary Cheh has represented Ward 3 for 15 years but decided not to run again. Matt Frumin is projected to take her seat.

Frumin is an attorney focusing on education and increasing development in commercial corridors. He faced Republican David Krucoff, a commercial real estate agent who advocates for more public safety and D.C.’s retrocession to Maryland to allow city residents to have voting rights in the House and Senate. There was also a Libertarian candidate, Adrian Salsgiver.

Ward 5 Council Member

Democrat Zachary Parker, president of the D.C. State Board of Education, is projected to win against Republican Clarence Lee Jr.

The outgoing Ward 5 Council member, Kenyan McDuffie, did not seek another term so he could run for D.C. attorney general. However, after his candidacy was deemed ineligible, he opted to run for an At-Large seat on the Council.

Ward 6 Council Member

Charles Allen ran unopposed for a seat he’s held since 2015. 

DC Attorney General

Attorney General Karl Racine, who served as D.C.’s first elected attorney general, opted not to seek a third term.

Democrat Brian Schwalb won the June primary and ran unopposed. He is the partner-in-charge of D.C.’s Venable Law Firm. His priorities include keeping juveniles out of the criminal justice system, fighting wage theft and closing equity and income gaps.

See election results for Maryland and Virginia here.

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