By Editorial Board
With eight candidates in the race for mayor, choosing the best person to lead the city could seem hard when you have the incumbent, Mayor Vincent C. Gray, running and four sitting council members who have a large array of experience and visions. The April 1st primary is just weeks away and voters across the District have to decide who they will select amongst the large array of candidates, which has narrowed into a two-person race between Councilmember Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Mayor Gray.
Under Mayor Gray voters know what they will be getting- more of the same. Gray has not announced a new vision for the city, but has consistently touted his “One City” slogan, albeit hidden under his looming federal investigation. The not-so-distant-past would recall that the Gray 2010 campaign paid D-list mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown to attack then mayor Adrian Fenty during various primary forums. Even more, four top aides of Gray’s 2010 campaign have plead guilty to campaign-related felonies and U.S. Attorney General Ronald C. Machen, Jr. has alluded that an illegal shadow campaign took place.
The federal investigation is still ongoing, but Gray has denied any involvement and surprisingly lack of full or partial knowledge of the alleged shadow campaign. Then there are the District voters, who may not know what to believe because Gray has not been indicted on any charges. But the ethical questions still remain- what did he know about the shadow campaign and when did he know it.
Compounded with the federal investigation is his legislative record, or lack-there-of. Gray, who once represented his home ward, 7 and then became council chairman, has not had any significant legislative accomplishments east of the river. It is worth mentioning that during his 2010 campaign he seized on a growing anti-Fenty sentiment that was especially strong — east of the Anacostia in Wards 7 and 8, and in much of Ward 5, but has adopted many of the Fenty administration’s policy’s (school reform, crime and development) as mayor has done nothing to benefit those who supported him the most.
He revels in the future of a new Ballou Senior High School, but fails to mention that with its state-of-the-art furnishings, it will open without critical programming like ROTC, a functional Parent Teacher Association, or books in the library. Additionally, he speaks highly of the largest rainy day fund in the city’s history while the homeless population balloons. He touts his cradle-to-cradle education, that boasts the largest pre-K3 program in the country, but yet singe under and unemployed mothers must get up in the wee hours of the morning to stand in line at the one location the city offers for parents to qualify for daycare vouchers.
The other candidates in the race, Ward Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), Vincent Orange (D-At-Large) and three other lesser known names all have the passion and some even the legislative experience that is needed to run the District government, but they lack clear vision and leadership to take on the job.
Muriel Bowser has the vision the city needs. She recently received the Washington Post endorsement where they noted, “By training and temperament, Ms. Bowser is a student of governance…She is willing to admit her mistakes, open her mind to new ideas and surround herself with smart, capable staff.”
We agree with the Post’s sentiments. We are especially pleased with her commitment to serve residents across the city, in all 8 wards. Voters are also speaking with one voice in showing their commitment to her vision, with a strong showing of support in the candidate forums and straw polls, where she won in Wards 4 and 8.
She has announced that if she is elected she will create a new position, Deputy Mayor for East of the River Strategies, who will report directly to her. Mayor Gray has been quoted, as saying “We don’t need a deputy mayor for east of the river, when you have a mayor that lives east of the river,” but he has shown little interest in developing that section of the city. East of the river needs a dedicated person to focus on stimulating its growth. Bowser has made this commitment and we are pleased that she is focused on addressing the ever-growing unemployment, homelessness and economically depressed areas of the city.
Further, Bowser possesses the fortitude to introduce legislation that is sound for city government. It was her leadership that brought about the Ethics Board, in a time when the council was marred by corruption. It was her leadership that brought about the legislation that now allows District public school children to ride the metro buses for free. We believe that she will continue to lead the effort on education reform, first focusing on the middle schools, as she has stated. We commend her on her position with Metro, where she has suggested relaxing background checks [for non-violent and non-work related offenses] to boost unemployment among the returning citizen population.
Washington, D.C. needs strong leadership. Washington, D.C. needs an ethically sound leader. Washington, D.C. needs Muriel Bowser. We urge voters across this city to get on board and vote April 1st for a candidate who will serve all eight wards. We believe that candidate is Muriel Bowser.