The District of Columbia got a new mayor just before noon Friday, as Muriel Bowser was sworn in as the leader of the local government in the nation's capital.
Smiling broadly at times, Bowser took the oath of office about 11:40 a.m. Friday, becoming the District's seventh elected mayor.
"Today, we inherit past successes and failures and overdue promises," Bowser said. "But most of all, we inherit the great expectations of a deserving people."
"Today, we cannot and will not be satisfied with where we are, with the status quo," she said. "Today, our city, as much as we've progressed, we know that there are challenges to our progress. On day one, I face a quarter-billion dollar budget deficit when we walk in the door."
Bowser vowed to face those challenges head on, promising to build a government "that this city deserves."
"It's my charge to make [D.C.] greener, healthier, safer and more fiscally stable than we find it today," she said.
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Formerly D.C.'s Ward 4 councilmember, Bowser is now just the second woman to lead the District. Early in her inaugural remarks, she thanked the female mayors of other major cities, saying, "Today, because of you, I am one too."
Also sworn in Friday: seven new and re-elected members of the D.C. Council; the District's board of education; shadow representatives to Congress; neighborhood commissioners; and the first-ever elected D.C. attorney general.
Friday's program began about 10 a.m., with opening remarks by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton before D.C.'s first-ever elected attorney general, Karl Racine, was sworn in.
Racine told attendees he would be courageous in the new role, and asked citizens to hold him accountable to the tasks ahead.
"...I will be fierce and unyielding in defending the rule of the people, including Initiative 71," Racine said, referring to voters' decision to legalize marijuana in the District. The measure has been blocked by Congress thus far.
Racine also vowed to protect those who need help most, "to level the playing field for our most citizens, especially our youth and our seniors."
D.C.'s new and re-elected councilmembers also took oaths of office Friday morning, beginning with Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1).
"I stand here this morning humbled by the task I am about to take on," Nadeau said. "...Washington, D.C. is the greatest place in the world."
While holding his two-year-old daughter, Charles Allen became the D.C. councilmember representing Ward 6.
"I ran for this seat with the idea that every neighborhood should be a place we can always call home," he said.
D.C. also has a new At-Large Councilmember, former journalist Elissa Silverman.
"Some of you have told me I'm the last person you thought would be standing here today, taking the oath of office to join... a government I spent almost two decades writing about," she said. "Along the way... I've met thousands of District residents who have big dreams for our city, and ideas on how it can be even better. They inspire me."
Re-elected councilmembers Mary Cheh (Ward 3), Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5) and Anita Bonds (At-Large) were sworn into new terms Friday, as was D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.
The inauguration ceremony was free and open to the public, without a ticket. Seating was first-come, first-served. Bowser said the events were the first step in her plan for a more "open and accessible" government.
"The opportunity to serve as mayor of my hometown, the great District of Columbia, is an unbelievable honor," Bowser said last month. "[This] is the first step towards a fresh start for the District, and we want residents across all eight wards to take part in the celebration."
That celebration will continue Friday evening with Bowser's Inaugural Ball, headlined by musician Sheila E.
The schedule of events is as follows:
Friday, Jan. 2:
- 8 a.m. – Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser's Inauguration Interfaith Service (First Congressional Church of Christ, 945 G St. NW)
- 9:30 a.m. – The Inauguration of Muriel Bowser (Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW)
- 7 p.m. – Mayor Muriel Bowser's DC Proud Inaugural Ball (Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW)
Tickets are required to attend the ball, and as of Thursday afternoon all tickets had been distributed.
Saturday, Jan. 3:
- 2 p.m. – Mayor Muriel Bowser's Inaugural Kids Party (Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, 701 Mississippi Ave. SE)
Tickets are also required to attend the kids party, and as of Thursday afternoon all tickets had been distributed.
You can find updates and additional information on the official Inauguration Weekend website.