By Jordyn Taylor and Kynadi Hyde
Howard University News Service
An eager collection of community leaders, campaigners, and friends and family of Muriel Bowser got cozy at Hook Hall, a dimly lit tavern on Georgia Avenue, for an intimate watch party to await the decision of this year’s mayoral race.
Festive seas of green balloons and other decorative ornaments, coupled with celebratory dancing to upbeat music such as Alicia Keys’s “Girl on Fire,” set the tone of Bowser’s watch party before she even arrived. Decadent-looking comfort food and plenty of smiling faces made it impossible for guests not to cheer when Bowser was pronounced D.C.’s re-elected mayor.
Bowser was confident in her watch party speech, proclaiming that “today, we gone make history” – she did just that.
The D.C. Board of Elections reports that Bowser received 74.54% of all votes counted, making her the obvious people’s choice. Bowser’s opponents were Independent Rodney “Red” Grant, Republican Stacia Hall and Libertarian Dennis Sobin. Bowser is the second mayor besides Marion Barry and the first woman to win three consecutive terms, according to the district’s Office of the Secretary.
Excitement roared throughout the venue, as morale for an improved D.C. charged both the mayor and her campaign team, aka the “Green Team,” instilling an intense notion of comradery among the crowd.
Bowser’s reelection campaign is fueled by sentiments of renovation and revitalization, as exemplified by her campaign slogan, “The Comeback.” Latoya Foster, Bowser’s director of communications, says that the next four years hold a new approach, consisting of “bold and transformational ideas to enhance the lives of district residents.”
John Fanning, director of constituent services for re-elected council member at large Anita Bonds, endearingly expressed his hopes for a democratic victory, and commended Bowser on her “time initiatives,” regarding her campaign efforts.
The incumbent mayor cited her successful acts in office like driving down family homelessness, closing the D.C. General hospital, building the Skyland Town Center and opening the first local grocery store in D.C.’s 7th Ward.
As her reflections came to a close, Bowser expressed her hopes in rebuilding the integrity of public safety and accessibility in Washington.
“We’re very focused on how we reinvent our downtown,” she said. “We’re very focused on spikes of gun violence and how we end that with the use of our whole government. … Kids and schools are always a focus of ours and also the investments that we make to ensure that people have a fair shot in our city.”
“Then we look at how resilient our city is from transportation to the environment to health and wellness, and really focusing on the strategies that will make us a healthier and safer city.”
Other Black women, who also saw success in their races, graced Bowser by attending her watch party, which was held in Ward 4 where the mayor previously served as D.C. councilmember and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. Eleanor Holmes Norton retained her position as the U.S. House Non-Voting Delegate for the District of Columbia, making this her 17th consecutive term.
In her thorough list of thanks, Bowser gave her flowers to long-time council member at large Anita Bonds. Bonds has been serving the D.C. community for over 50 years, credited with assisting and serving alongside another historic official, former Mayor Marion Barry.
“I’m happy to be here, but I’m ready to get back to work,” Bonds said. “Every turn seems to lead to another turn for opportunity. I’m supportive of Mayor Muriel Bowser and of the government becoming more responsive to its constituents and their needs.”
As the first woman to be re-elected as D.C. mayor, Bowser has redefined what it means to be a woman in politics. T.N. Tate, who served as communications director for the previous mayor, Ward 7 council member Vincent C. Gray, said Bowser “came and did what they said she couldn’t do.”
“Her era represents the close-off of an old era,” the D.C. native added. “It’s going to be a whole different landscape, especially for young Black women.”
“What the voters have told us,” Bowser said, “is that they want a seasoned leader. They want a woman who can make tough decisions. They want a woman when women’s rights are at risk, and they want someone to speak up for them – a woman who, when our children are at risk, is gonna make the tough decisions to keep them safe and save their lives.”
“They want a woman who knows how to start things and finish things, think big, push hard and get things done. And that is what we have been able to do.”
Jordyn Taylor and Kynadi Hyde are reporters for HUNewsService.com.