D.C. leaders and residents expressed joy and excitement for former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as the next president and vice president of the United States in the wake of an apparent victory Saturday in the race for the White House.
The election triumph makes Harris the first Black and first Asian American vice president and that made D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser happy.
“I would like to congratulate Senator Kamala Harris for being the next vice president of the United States and Joe Biden for being the next president,” Bowser said at a Monday news conference. “I know that they support D.C. values and support D.C. statehood. I know our city is rejoicing. Our city overwhelmingly supported the Biden-Harris ticket.”
Bowser noted she went to Wilmington, Del., to hear Biden and Harris deliver their victory speeches Saturday and to talk with transition officials.
Major news networks in the U.S. declared Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential race Nov. 7 as his lead over President Trump in Pennsylvania widened to a level that, they concluded, gave Biden the 270 votes needed for an electoral college victory.
On Election Day in the District Tuesday, the D.C. Board of Elections reported 92.57 percent of the city’s voters supported the Biden-Harris ticket, the largest bloc in terms of percentage of an electoral jurisdiction in the country. When a Biden victory was declared four days later, Black Lives Matter Plaza in downtown D.C. two blocks away from the White House became one of several national epicenters of spontaneous, raucous but peaceful demonstrations for hours.
Bowser said no arrests took place at Black Lives Matter Plaza on Saturday, to her knowledge.
On Jan. 20, Biden and Harris will be inaugurated on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol’s west side. Bowser said planning for the inauguration, as far as the city’s obligations and responsibilities are concerned, haven’t been discussed with the Biden team.
“We are in the early stages of working with the presidential inauguration committee,” the mayor said. “The presidential inauguration committee drives the inauguration celebration.”
The mayor would not elaborate on the turnout for the inauguration. She did say no hotels will be closed by the District government during the week of the inauguration.
Both Biden and Harris have strong connections to the District, with the president-elect supporting statehood for years as senator and vice president and Harris, a California native, as a student at Howard University. Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick, in a statement, said Harris, a 1986 graduate, “has swung her Howard hammer and shattered the proverbial glass ceiling into pieces that will not be put back together.”
“From her first time running for representative of the Liberal Arts Student Council as a freshman at Howard University, to the nearly 20 years she broke through barriers serving as an elected official for residents of California, Senator Harris has demonstrated her unmatched strength, determination and leadership in fighting for the people,” Frederick said.
Charles Wilson, chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, also noted Harris is the first HBCU graduate to be successful on a presidential ticket. Sheika Reid, a political activist in Ward 1 who attended Howard, said Harris’s win shows, “Howard always delivers and she embodies the values of The Mecca.”
Sheila Bunn, the corresponding secretary of the Ward 8 Democrats, noted that Harris, as a woman of color, has won nationally. Previous female candidates for president or vice president have come up short.
“Harris’s win will make sure that Black women will be heard,” Bunn said. “But not only Black women, all people will have a voice and a seat at the table. While we are celebrating Kamala, Stacey Abrams should be given her due for getting people to register and vote in Georgia. That’s Black Girl Magic.”
Ward 8 D.C. State Board of Education member Markus Batchelor said the Biden victory shows why young people should be engaged in the political process.
“The 2016 presidential election served as a wake-up call to us,” Batchelor said. “When young people vote and get involved in politics, change does occur. Now that we have elected Biden, we as young people need to get ready for the hard work of governing.”
While District Democrats celebrated the Biden-Harris win, some Republicans in the city expressed contentment.
“The election is over,” said Willie Leftwich, a longtime member of the GOP. “There was a good turnout. People got tired of Donny and his antics. There are a lot of problems in the country and we need to come together to solve them.”