D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser announces run for Mayor

Muriel Bowser wants residents to vote in unprecedented numbers in the Nov. 4 general election.

D.C. Council member and Democratic mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser is one of many political leaders in the District that wants residents to vote in unprecedented numbers in the Nov. 4 general election.

On Oct. 25, Bowser was joined by 200 people that consisted of residents, fellow Democrats, candidates for other offices, council colleagues and union leaders and activists at the Murry’s parking lot on Minnesota Avenue, N.E. for a two-hour rally that consisted of music played by local bands, snacks that included hotdogs and hamburgers, and a moon bounce for children. Bowser, who represents Ward 4, said the rally was designed to be fun but had a very serious purpose.

“We do vote,” Bowser said, making an indirect reference to the opinion of some District leaders that Blacks will not vote in large numbers on Nov. 4. “All of us are going to go out and vote. Everyone knows that in politics, whoever wins the early vote on Election Day wins the race.”

The latest poll released by the [Washington City Paper} and WAMU’s Kojo Nmandi Show has Bowser leading her closest challenger, independent candidate David Catania, 44 percent to 27 percent with former D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz far behind at 10 percent.

Strong voter participation efforts are taking place because of the dismal turnout on April 1 during the party primaries. D.C. Board of Elections officials stated that nearly 25 percent of the 370,000 eligible voters casted a ballot during the primary, the worse showing in more than 30 years.

Early voting started on Oct. 20 at Judiciary Square and on Oct. 25 at selected polling places throughout the city. Board of Elections officials said that 4,000 residents casted a ballot on Oct. 25 and that 2,267 people voted at the Judiciary Square.

The Bowser campaign has stressed not only the merits of her candidacy to be the city’s next leader but the need for residents to vote in large numbers.

“There are some people who say that it is a waste of time to campaign in certain areas,” she said. “We have early voting so that people can vote and do what they need to do on a Saturday. You can walk across the street to the Dorothy Height Benning Library and vote and we encourage you to do that.”

D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large), who serves as the chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, said the party doesn’t have a central campaign to boost turnout but supports the efforts of ward committees and Democratic candidates.

“We have combined with all of the other campaigns,” Bonds said. “We are working really hard to elect our Democratic nominee as our next mayor.”

Ward 8, located in Southeast, had the lowest turnout of voters in the primary, with 15.54 percent or 7,252 out of 46,677 voters.

Natalie Williams, president of the Ward 8 Democrats, along with Democratic National Committeeman Arrington Dixon have held events in the ward to emphasize the importance of voting.

“The problem in Ward 8 is not that people are not registered to vote,” Williams said. “It is voter participation and getting people to vote and being educated about the candidates. We need a large turnout in the ward to let the rest of the city know that we are serious about politics.”

Silas Grant is the chairman of the Ward 5 Democrats. Grant’s ward had a 26.64 percent turnout in the primary; a number that is disappointing considering that the ward has historically had the highest voting percentages in the city.

“We are sending out a lot of emails and distributing a lot of literature because there was a decline in voting during the primary,” he said. “We are working to support Bowser and Bonds and we want people to vote.”

D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), who is not running for re-election this year, said that voting can determine where the city’s resources go when it comes time for the council to create the annual budget.

“Your voice counts and there is strength in numbers,” Alexander said.

Alicia Gross, who attended the Bowser rally and plans to vote for the council member for mayor, agrees that voting is important.

“Some people say that change cannot take place in D.C. but there will be change on Nov. 4,” she said. “One person can make a change. One vote can make a change.”