Muriel Bowser
**FILE** D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s joy at the presidential election outcome is tempered by her concern about the stubborn presence of COVID-19 in D.C. and wants city residents and visitors to do what they can to stay safe.

The virus was near the top of her concerns during a recent visit with Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes during the media company’s weekly online show “Washington Informer News.”

The mayor, chatting with the publisher remotely from a classroom at the Excel Academy Public School in Ward 8 Nov. 6, talked local and national politics, although the pandemic is at the top of her worries.

Stressing the importance of being safe while the pandemic exists in the District, the mayor said residents will have to deal with the virus until a vaccine emerges. She said until that happens, people should “stay six feet apart, wear a mask and wash their hands.”

Bowser said holiday meals should take place at home. She said if people participate in activities such as outdoor gatherings, attention should be paid to how many people are in attendance and an effort should be made to practice social distancing and wearing face coverings.

“We have found the spread of the disease can be attributed to small gatherings,” the mayor said.

Bowser said changes have been made to the District’s travel to high-risk states policy because every state except for four are on the list. The low-risk states are nearby Maryland and Virginia plus Hawaii and Vermont.

The mayor advised people who want to come to the District to be tested before they leave home and if they test positive, don’t come to the city. She said guests from high-risk states should be tested three days after their arrival in the city. Bowser said visitors should stay close to their hosts “and not mix around the city.”

In addition to COVID-19, the mayor talked about the latest developments regarding the Nov. 3 general election, particularly the two new council members — Christina Henderson, an independent at-large and Janeese Lewis George, a Democrat from Ward 4 — which will produce a female majority on the D.C. Council for the first time in years.

“There will be two be African American females on the council other than Anita Bonds,” the mayor said. “This is not the first time the council will be majority female,” noting that women were in the majority in 1998 in the chamber.

Bowser said she will work with the new council that will be sworn in early January. She said there are men on the council who will support their female colleagues. However, Bowser noted all women don’t have the same agenda.

On the national level, Bowser said her joy about the triumph of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was dampened but the overall results. “I am looking forward to a great new president, but the win is bittersweet in some ways,” the mayor said. “I wanted to see a total repudiation of Trumpism.”

Bowser said while more people voted “than ever we are fractured by state and the popular vote wasn’t even close.” She said the Democratic Party must look into why it lost House seats and “did not take the Senate,” also.

The mayor also expressed concern about the spike in the District’s homicide rate and said her desire is to reduce street violence.

“Every D.C. resident desires to live in a safe neighborhood,” she said. “It is my responsibility to see that everyone is safe and if people are not safe, the government should do something about it.”

Bowser said she wants “people to stop shooting at each other.” She spoke about the need to reach people before they commit crimes.

“People are without hope,” the mayor said. “When they feel they have no options, they look at taking another person’s life.”

Regarding the Karon Hylton-Brown incident in which the 20-year-old died in October in the wake of police chasing his moped, Bowser said “I have been in Ward 4 an ANC [advisory neighborhood commissioner], council member and now the mayor and I know the people on Kennedy Street want police protection.”

“The police have to follow the rules,” she said. “Police chases can be dangerous and somebody could get hurt.”

On the education front, Bowser said teachers need to be in classrooms and her administration seeks to make that happen. Recently, the members of Washington Teachers’ Union refused to return to school buildings because they felt the school system didn’t do enough to protect them against the coronavirus. The mayor said she will work with the union to resolve any issues in order to get back to in-person instruction.

Bowser, the parent of a 2-year-old child, commended parents who attempt to educate their child but said that work should be left to the professionals.

“We parents are not teachers,” she said. “It is a profession. They know what they are doing. We are not replacement teachers.”

The mayor said she understands District residents have grown weary of the pandemic but urged patience.

“When we get to the other side of this pandemic, things will get back to normal,” she said.

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James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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