D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser delivered her “State of the District” address March 15 on the District’s growth and prosperity while acknowledging that there are problems that needed to be fixed. In addition to the hundreds of residents that attended the event at the University of the District of Columbia, members of the D.C. Council were in the audience such as D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D).

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser acknowledged while the city has problems, she is still focused on the District’s growth and prosperity, in her recent State of the City Address. (Courtesy Photo-Office of D.C. Mayor)

“I thought her speech was good,” Mendelson told the AFRO. “It seems that the audience received it well.”

Bowser’s speech lasted roughly an hour and touched on many themes. Saying that “the state of the District is strong,” the mayor talked about funding Metro at the level of $178 million, blasted the Trump administration for an “unnecessary military parade” in the city and warned the U.S. Congress, particularly U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), about the city’s right to determine its own gun laws to “leave us alone and hands-off D.C.”

Using the example of the parade, she talked about how the Trump administration wants to spend $30 million on a military parade and how the president should spend $40 million supporting the DC TAG program, a program that helps D.C. residents go to colleges in other states by subsidizing the cost to make up the difference for in-state tuition.

Bowser said she wanted to travel to El Salvador in the summer to set up a Sister City relationship with its capital city, San Salvador, and wants more quality child care for parents by creating a child care tax credit. She pledged to build a wellness center for seniors and a new hospital on the campus of St. Elizabeths East, both in Ward 8.

Both Bowser and her chief political nemesis, D.C. Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7), support the building of a state-of-the-art St. Elizabeths Hospital and Bowser said, “Council member Gray and I won’t accept anything else.”

The mayor drew applause when she pledged to end chronic homelessness and promised to close the District’s controversial homeless shelter, D.C. General Hospital, forever. She said her administration is committed to a first-class public education system that would engage students and while she didn’t mention the recent incident where Antwan Wilson was fired as the District school’s chancellor, she did acknowledge the interim chancellor, Dr. Amanda Alexander.

Bowser said District streets are “safer than ever” and “crime is at record lows, with violent crime down 26 percent since 2014.” She supports adding more police officers, preferably District natives, and setting up a partnership between the police department and the Department of Behavioral Health to assist those in trouble with the law with their mental health challenges.  The mayor pledged $1 billion to create affordable housing in the District.

In closing, she urged residents “to stay focused, let’s keep moving forward because if we all stick together, the best is yet to come.”

Not everyone was impressed with Bowser’s address.

“If you live in Wards 2 and 3 and parts of Ward 4 and Ward 1, it was a great speech,” Jauhar Abraham, an anti-gang violence activist in Ward 8, told the AFRO. “For anyone who lives where I live it was despicable. She really didn’t talk about the questionable state of the public schools, public safety in the city, and the homeless.”