Antawan Holmes1

Antawan Holmes

I want to provide a perspective that was missing from James Wright’s June 24th article on Mayor Bowser and her first six months in office. I live in Deanwood, located in Ward 7, and have seen and interacted with her, in my community, in the last 6 months more than I did with her predecessors during their entire terms.

In my observations, Mayor Bowser has launched a serious effort to create a Pathway to the Middle class by investing heavily in education initiatives that help our young men of color, addressing homelessness and affordable housing, and expanding job programs such as our summer youth employment program.

Like every Mayor before her, she has brought on a team that she feels best equipped to tackle the challenges of running a dynamic city. The city is rapidly changing and requires both competent veterans and new personnel.

I see the Mayor and her team working within all eight wards. And the Mayor has put special attention into communities like Deanwood. Her office, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Police Department, has conducted Safety Walks with community leaders to address security and service needs within the neighborhood.

I know a lot of people in our community have had consistent, positive and productive interactions with the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations (MOCRS). I have personally worked with Mr. Wendell Felder (MOCRS Ward 7 representative) and he provides 110 percent effort in his work. He works seven days a week with residents to address service issues in our neighborhood. Many residents have called me to praise his efforts in addressing their issues.

These liaisons work with other executive agencies to address local needs like vacant properties, lots and streetscape issues. I enjoy the fact that MOCRS are single points of contacts for all other agencies. I would like to see more cross sectional agency teamwork to address various neighborhood issues efficiently.

At the six month mark, I think the Mayor is moving in the right direction by engaging the community at a personal level to address systemic issues that have existed long before she won the election. We all know that progress will not occur overnight so let’s give Mayor Bowser time to make progress on the long-term issues that have negatively impacted East of the river.

Antawan Holmes, Deanwood Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, Washington, D.C.