For 3rd time, Muriel Bowser is sworn in as DC mayor

Amid a room full of cheering supporters, Muriel Bowser was sworn in as D.C. mayor for a third time — becoming the first mayor to serve a third term since Marion Barry did so.

In her inaugural address, Bowser pledged to “win back our downtown” by transforming office space into residential hubs and to boost the city’s school system with free before-and after-school programs.

Joining Bowser at the ceremony were reelected and new council members, as well as the District’s new attorney general.

“You know what they say about third times,” Bowser said to the applauding crowd. “They’re a charm.”

The oath of office was administered by Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, the chief Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals, at the Washington Convention Center.

Mayor Muriel Bowser takes the oath of office on Jan. 2, 2023, during a ceremony at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. (Courtesy D.C. mayor’s office)

“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.

She said her administration will focus on “six big areas” over the next four years, including revitalizing the District’s downtown.

“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,” Bowser said.

Revitalizing downtown

Currently, about 25,000 people live in downtown D.C. Bowser said her goal is to add 15,000 new residents over the next five years.

“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,” she said.

Council member Matt Frumin, elected to represent Ward 3 on the D.C. Council, echoed this sentiment after he was sworn in for his first term.

“Our central core and tax base are vulnerable in ways that we have not seen in decades. We must ensure our downtown and economic base return to an upward trajectory and our tax base is resilient.”

In addition to revitalizing the local economy, Bowser said the “fight for our kids is the most pressing” issue she plans to take on in her third term.

Education: ‘People are holding on for dear life’

Education and youth safety will be a top priority for the new council and Mayor.

Bowser said she hopes to build “the most robust” free before- and after-school program in the U.S.

Ward 5 Council member Zachary Parker, another fresh face on the council, also ran as a teacher and an education activist. He most recently served on the D.C. Board of Education.

He invoked Charles Dickens in his address about D.C.’s schools: ”For many, it is the best of times and they’re flush with resources. But for many more, it is the worst of times, and people are holding on for dear life.”

Combating crime

Beyond improving education and public safety, rising crime rates among the city’s youth will be an emphasis for both the mayor and new Attorney General Brian Schwalb.

In D.C., the attorney general is responsible for prosecuting all juvenile crimes. In 2022, the city saw huge spikes in violent crimes where children were either suspects or victims.

WTOP news partner NBC Washington reported, 97 people under age 18 were arrested in D.C. in 2022 for a violent crime that was their first arrest. There were 90 separate times in which kids were shot this year — up 78% from the previous year.

“Kids are biologically hardwired to take risk and make mistakes. But too many young people in Washington, D.C., don’t have the privilege of learning from their mistakes without risking their liberty or their lives,” said Schwalb. “We do have to hold people accountable, and we will. But accountability is a two-way street. As government officials and community leaders, we also need to hold ourselves accountable.”

Schwalb suggested early prevention programs, as well as mental health counseling and stable housing as a means to reduce youth violence.

“We know especially for our young people that, sometimes, accountability is not punishment. It’s a lifeline,” Bowser said. “Sometimes the best way to save your child and change his trajectory is to require that they get the help they need, and that they understand the consequences of their actions.”

Other priorities for the mayor’s third term include attracting new residents all over the city, bringing down housing prices and continuing to push for D.C. to become the 51st state.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, At-Large Council member Anita Bonds, At-Large Council member Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau and Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen were also sworn in during the ceremony.

You can watch the full ceremony below:

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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