WASHINGTON (AP) — Mayor Muriel Bowser was poised to begin a third term Tuesday after a campaign focused on her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and on her history as one of the faces of Washington’s ongoing push for statehood walk.
In June, Bowser, 50, defeated two District of Columbia Council challengers in the Democratic primary, a race widely regarded as the de facto mayoral race in the predominantly Democratic district.
In the general election, Bowser faced a trio of challengers, all considered marginal: Republican Stacia Hall, Green Party statehood candidate Corren Brown, and independent candidate Rodney “Red” Grant.
Bowser has largely presided over a period of prosperity, but has been constantly accused of being too close to developers and business interests as an unchecked wave of gentrification prices up longtime black residents.
Grant, a longtime actor and comedian, targeted that perception, saying in a campaign video that Bowser was “focused on developing buildings in our city, but forgot to develop our youth and a really comprehensive crime reduction plan.” “.
Public safety and crime dominated the main campaign. Homicides have risen for four straight years, and the 2021 homicide count was 227, the highest since 2003. Both key challengers, DC Council members Robert White and Trayon White, have slammed their response to rising violent crime rates .
But despite her vulnerabilities to public safety and rising public fears of crime, Bowser emerged from the Democratic primary with a double-digit victory.
Bowser gained national attention in the summer of 2020. After mass protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, she publicly tangled with then-President Donald Trump after pro-racial justice protesters were forcibly evicted from an area near the White House.
Bowser responded by renaming the protest epicenter Black Lives Matter Plaza and commissioning a mural with “Black Lives Matter” painted in giant yellow letters on a stretch of 16th Street a block from the White House. The move was publicly dismissed as “performative” by local Black Lives Matter affiliate, a regular Bowser critic.
Under pressure from activists demanding that the police be defunded, Bowser largely stood by her police department and engaged in public battles with the DC Council over the police budget. She tacitly replaced an older white police chief with a younger black successor and pushed for funding for the Metropolitan Police Department’s workforce from the current 3,500 to up to 4,000 officers in the next decade.
A win would make Bowser the second mayor of DC to win three consecutive terms, joining Marion Barry, who presided the city uninterruptedly from 1979 to 1991.
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