D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser takes the oath of office from D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby while Bowser’s family looks on. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser takes the oath of office from D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby while Bowser’s family looks on. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

District elected officials ranging from Mayor Muriel Bowser to members of advisory neighborhood commissions took their oath of office Monday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest before an estimated crowd of 500.

D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) at the podium (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

During the first half of the two-part ceremony, Bowser, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, D.C. Council members Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) took their oaths for another four-year term. Kenyan McDuffie took his oath, transitioning from representing Ward 5 to one of the four at-large positions on the council. Matt Frumin and Zachary Parker, the new council members from Wards 3 and 5 respectively, got sworn in along with Brian Schwalb, the city’s second elected attorney general.

Bowser, 50, made history as the first female in the country to be elected as a mayor of a major city for a third consecutive term. She is also the second mayor to get a third term, with Marion S. Barry achieving the feat in 1994.

“I am standing here today, honored to have taken this oath of office for the third time,” the mayor said. 

“And what is it they say about third times — they’re a charm. But truly, a third time and a third term are a special opportunity because we have a mandate. We have a mandate from the people to be bold, to think big, to push the envelope, and above all else, to win for Washington, D.C.”

Bowser said one of her priorities will be revitalizing the downtown area. Downtown suffered economically during the early and middle parts of the coronavirus pandemic. Many federal and private sector workers worked remotely at their homes and did not come to the downtown offices during the formative months of the pandemic.

“We must and we will win back our downtown because it is the economic engine that allows us to invest in our schools, our safety net, and our public works,” she said. “It is the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg.”

Bowser said presently, 25,000 reside in the downtown area. She said her goal is to add 15,000 residents over the next five years, and an additional 87,000 after that.

“So, that’s right, we have a new 100,000 resident goal,” the mayor said.

Bowser called on the Biden-Harris administration to help her reach that goal.

“The federal government represents one-quarter of D.C.’s pre-pandemic jobs and owns or leases one-third of D.C.’s office space,” she said. “We need decisive action by the White House to either get most federal workers back to the office most of the time or to realign their vast property holdings for use by the local government, by nonprofits, by businesses and by any user willing to revitalize it.”

Bowser said the city’s public school system will be upgraded “to become the best school district in the country.” Additionally, she talked of working to add 35,000 new jobs in high-growth industries, improving public safety in the District and making the city carbon neutral by 2045.

Mendelson said he will work on the District’s education system by improving literacy, preventing truancy and teacher turnover. He said unlike other jurisdictions that have problems due to leaders unable to come together, District lawmakers and the mayor can work together.

“We are understandably progressive,” the council chairman said. “Our tradition embraces compromise.”

Schwalb said he will hold true to operating as an independent office holder.

“As your independently elected attorney general, I will listen to everyone but won’t be beholden to no one,” he said.

Nadeau said as the new chair of the committee that deals with public works, she will make sure the department will be more responsive to residents. 

Parker, a former D.C. State Board of Education representative for Ward 5, said he will push for more resources for the schools and advocate for racial equity policies throughout the city.

Frumin said he will utilize his experience as a longtime activist in Ward 3 to make the District “a more just and prosperous place.” Allen touted some of his past legislative triumphs such as supporting a monthly income for some District residents and free bus service starting in July.

Bonds, pledged to protect seniors during her next term while McDuffie, 48, said he will focus on reducing gun violence.

Chairman Mendelson presided over the second part of the swearing-in ceremony, which took place in the afternoon. Council members administered the oaths for members of the D.C. State Board of Education. 

Ward 1 Board of Education member Ben Williams received his oath from Nadeau. Ward 3 Board of Education member Eric Goulet took his oath of office from D.C. Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7). Robert Henderson, the Ward 5 Board member, was sworn in by Parker, while Allen administered Ward 6 Board member Brandon Best’s oath. Nadeau also swore in Oye Owolewa as the District’s shadow representative to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We are going to fight for statehood,” Owolewa said. “It won’t be easy, but we will reach out to people across the country and tell them about our plight.”

The council members also swore in their newly elected advisory neighborhood commissioners.

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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