Muriel Bowser said she will institute programs that will help create good paying jobs for residents.

When Muriel Bowser, D.C. Councilmember and Democratic mayoral candidate,  put on a maid’s uniform Sept. 2 and worked half of a day in the Marriott Marquis hotel, she said she learned a lot about the struggles of domestic workers and what she wants to do to help. “ I will institute real programs for residents that will help create good paying jobs for our workers,” she said.

Bowser accepted an invitation by members of the UNITE HERE Local 25, who represents hotel workers, to see how domestics work for a day. The Ward 4 lawmaker said she was serious about the assignment. “I do not do stunts,” Bowser said Sept. 6. “I was asked by a group of women who work as maids to see how their lives are. I now understand the challenges that they face on a daily basis as they try to do their jobs and raise their families.”

Bowser listened intently to the women talk about their lives as she worked alongside them. She heard about how their wages force them to manage thriftily their personal and household budgets. They also told her of the physical toll that the job takes on them and that after work; they have to devote substantial energy to their personal lives also. Bowser said the experience sensitized her to the needs of the maids.

She said that as mayor, she would focus on city’s economic development and its benefits for residents. “The hotel where I worked has generated hundreds of new jobs for District residents since it opened and I will continue to bring those types of projects to the city,” Bowser said.


At-Large D.C. Council candidate Khalid Pitts lived on minimum wage recently.

Bowser is not the only political candidate trying to show sensitivity toward working-class Washingtonians. Non-Democratic at-large candidates Michael Brown, Wendell Felder, the Rev. Graylan Hagler, Khalid Pitts, Eugene Puryear, Elissa Silverman, Courtney Snowden, and Robert White participated in an OurDC-sponsored event. OurDC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of struggling District residents.

The at-large candidates agreed to live on a minimum-wage salary for the week of Sept. 1-7. Bowser, independent mayoral candidates David Catania and Carol Schwartz as well as D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large), running for re-election, declined to participate in the OurDC project.

White, Silverman and Pitts regularly updated their Twitter accounts  regarding their spending habits. Pitts said he is glad he participated in the project. “I’m running for the D.C. Council to be a voice for working-class families, the moms and single parents in this city, particularly those who are tired of making difficult decisions about where to educate their children, but also those who are living on minimum-wage, living paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

Stanley Mayes, a Ward 1 political activist, said he is not impressed with the candidates’ focus on life problems for a single day. “It is nice and symbolic, but what do you intend to do about the problem?” he said. “What type of policies will you implement to help working-class people? This is not about publicity but about helping people live in this city.”