Mayor Bowser on her initiatives, her accomplishments and the state of the District’s roadways.
WASHINGTON LIFE: What do you consider to be the biggest accomplishments of your term as mayor?
MAYOR BOWSER: I ran for office to give more Washingtonians a fair shot at pathways to the middle class. That fair shot equation is a simple one: good-paying jobs plus quality, affordable housing equals a thriving middle class in D.C. We have a lot more work to do, but over the past three years, my administration has been able to champion and sign legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, build workforce development programs that match the needs of both residents and District businesses, and make historic investments in affordable housing. In addition, today, our city is the safest it’s been in over a decade and we continue to have the fastest improving urban school district in the country.
WL: Which initiatives are most important to you?
MB: My team and I work every day to expand opportunities and improve day-to-day quality of life for residents in all eight wards. Any initiative that helps us reach that goal – and those initiatives can look different for different residents – is our priority. The good thing is that I have a team of really smart and passionate people working with me, so we don’t have to focus on just one or two issues. We can simultaneously focus on ending homelessness, producing and preserving affordable housing, accelerating school reform and expanding access to childcare, and filling potholes.
WL: You’re spearheading an effort to bring Amazon’s new headquarters here. How important is it to have companies gravitate to the district?
Washington, D.C. is experiencing an incredible renaissance, and companies are recognizing the great things going on in our city. In just the past year, Apple, Yelp, and FiscalNote all announced plans to either expand to or stay in Washington, and we expect to see this trend continue. Our city has a thriving tech scene, easy access to brilliant people and top universities, and the types of culture and entertainment that make it easy to attract and retain employees.
WL: You’ve been a big advocate for tech companies, correct?
MB: Technology is here to stay, and we want to ensure that Washington, D.C. remains a city that embraces innovation and change. Today, the District is at the forefront of the tech movement, and as we grow, we are being intentional about fostering a more inclusive environment so that all our residents benefit from the jobs and opportunity in the tech sector. This year, Forbes ranked D.C. the number one city for women in tech, and we didn’t get there by chance; we got there by being intentional about the programs and policies we support and invest in, and we will continue to make those investments.
WL: One of the biggest complaints people have about the city is the state of the roads. What have you been doing to improve them?
MB: In a thriving city like Washington, D.C., residents and visitors should expect roads that are in good condition. Many residents are already aware of Potholepalooza and Alleypalooza. In 2017 alone, through historic investments in our roads, we completed 21 miles of local paving and nearly nine miles of federal and NHS paving. Next year, we have plans to improve 23 additional miles of roadway.
WL: You recently announced your bid for a second term. What would you like your legacy to be?
MB: Our city has never been stronger than it is today, but we need to continue closing the gaps between those who are benefiting from the growth and change and those who are able to witness it but not participate in it. I want to be remembered for building a city that gave more Washingtonians the opportunity to participate in our prosperity. I want the story of Washington, D.C. to be one of prosperity and inclusivity – a renaissance that brings everyone along.
This story appears in the November 2017 issue of Washington Life.