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Bowser’s Trip to See Biden in Delaware Alarms Some D.C. Residents

Regina Pixley believes D.C.’s elected officials should lead by example.

So Pixley, advisory neighborhood commissioner for single-member district 8C04 in Ward 8, was outraged when she learned that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser took a one-day trip to Wilmington, Del., to talk with Biden transition officials and to listen to the president-elect’s Nov. 7 victory speech.

“Mayor Bowser is telling us that we should not go to states such as Delaware because they are on her list of high-risk states for the coronavirus and then she turns around and goes there,” Pixley said. Noting that Bowser and the city’s health director “set the rules for traveling to states like that,” she said, “I don’t think that she is setting a good example for D.C. residents to follow while we are in a pandemic.”

Delaware has become one of the 46 states on the list of high-risk states to which D.C. residents should avoid travel in a mayoral order targeting areas with a daily coronavirus case rate of more than 10 per 100,000 residents. However, the order exempted travel deemed essential. The order also exempted travel to and from nearby Maryland and Virginia.

The mayor traveled by car, accompanied by a security team member and an aide. The trip lasted seven hours, according to a Bowser spokesman.

Residents who travel to high-risk states must quarantine at home for 14 days when they return to the city, except those who are traveling for essential purposes, the order said.

On Nov. 9, a new mayoral order took effect gutting the two-week, nonessential travel quarantine and mandated a negative COVID-19 test for people who wanted to visit the District from high-risk states. Residents who travel to high-risk states should quarantine when they return, except for those engaging in essential activities, unless they test negative three days after their trip.

At a Nov. 9 news conference, Bowser defended the Delaware trip as “essential travel.”

On Nov. 10, Bowser talked about the Delaware trip at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Shepherd Park Community Center in Ward 4.

“I do a lot of things to advance the interests of the District of Columbia,” the mayor said according to a WTOP radio report. “And some of them are formal and some of them are informal, but all of them are necessary.”

Bowser said she is tested for the coronavirus on a consistent basis.

“I am regularly tested, and tested according to my levels of exposure and doing my job,” she said according to a WTOP report. As far as activities in Delaware, she said no celebratory party, reception or greeting line took place.

“I congratulated the people that I saw,” she said.

Bowser said she wanted to build bridges for the city to the new administration.

“The new president is our neighbor, and I will be his mayor while he’s here,” she said, according to a WTOP radio report. “And there are special events that our city supports with the federal government. And so, building relationships with the new team is going to be important for all of us.”

Charles Gaither, a Ward 4 resident, said Bowser did the right thing by taking the trip.

“It is part of her job as CEO of the District of Columbia,” he said. “She is doing what is necessary for the people of D.C. That talk about her violating her own order is a bunch of rubbish. I am sure she took precautions before she took the trip.”

Anthony Wright disagrees with Gaither, saying “what Mayor Bowser did was wrong.”

“Everybody needs to follow the rules,” Wright said. “She is the one who puts out the list. She is the one who updates the list every two weeks that everyone has to follow. To me, it is Bowser’s way of saying ‘Do as I say, not as I do’. She could have watched Biden’s speech on TV like everybody else.”

Robert Brannum, a longtime Ward 5 political activist, understands why some residents are uneasy about the mayor’s trip. Nevertheless, he said Bowser had every right to go.

“The trip was essential travel,” Brannum said. “Whether a trip is essential travel is determined by the traveler and she is the mayor and represents the people. I have no issue with that. However, if she was going to Delaware to go to the beach, then that would be a different story.”

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