D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is running to seek a third consecutive term.
She's ready to help get the District back to normal after the coronavirus pandemic, she said in an exclusive broadcast interview with News4.
“I’m just thrilled to announce my reelection campaign for mayor begins today,” Bowser said. “We’ve been through a lot in the last two years, and I know what it takes to help us get back and close all of the gaps that have been opened because of COVID.”
Bowser has been the mayor of D.C. since 2015. This time her campaign will be different, she said. She said she'll use public financing, rather than traditional fundraising. The District's public financing program pushes candidates to focus on small-dollar donations and bars corporate, business and traditional political action committee dollars.
“I’ve always raised from small donors,” she said. “I’ve raised from big donors, but I’ve always had a strategy to go out into neighborhoods, have meet-and-greets and have low-dollar contributors.”
In recent years, Bowser has guided the District during the COVID-19 pandemic and massive protests and unrest over police brutality and racial justice in summer 2020.
She’s raised her profile nationally through her fight to make D.C. the 51st state and made headlines worldwide when she unveiled Black Lives Matter Plaza on the street leading up to the White House.
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She’s also grappling with surging homicides in the District.
“We should all be very concerned about crime. I certainly am,” she said.
“I grew up in a Washington that was not a safe Washington, so I know what it means when gun violence wreaks havoc in neighborhoods,” she continued.
One question she’ll face is whether mayoral control of public schools is working.
“When I think about where to put my 3-year-old daughter in school the choices that I have confidence in near my home, they abound,” she said.
News4 replied that some parents don’t feel that same confidence.
“But many many more than when we started, and so now is not the time to abandon what brought us here,” she said.
The mayor defended her administration’s handling of unemployment checks during the pandemic, which frustrated thousands of residents who had trouble getting the funds.
“People who paid into the system, they need the system to deliver benefits in a timely way. We will work every day to make sure that happens,” she said.
As to whether she gave any thought to not seeking a third term, she said this: “I didn’t come close to not running.”
Bowser will face competition. D.C. Council Member Robert White announced his campaign three weeks ago. Council Member Trayon White also said he plans to run. Both have been critical of her handling of violent crime.
The Democratic primary is set for June 2022. Bowser plans to hold a series of public events to kick off her campaign.
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.