Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)
Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray talked about what his administration has done for the residents of the District over the last four years during his farewell address this week. The mayor delivered the parting speech at his high school alma mater, Dunbar Senior High School, on Dec. 17 before hundreds of people that consisted of residents and administration officials.
Gray, who took office in January 2011, said he loved being the mayor of the nation’s capital.
“Please know it has been the greatest honor of my life to serve for the last four years as your mayor,” he said. “We have come so far as a city during that time… made so much progress in so many areas, that it’s hard to say goodbye to what I think is, without a doubt, the best job in the world.”
During his nearly two-hour speech, the mayor talked about his efforts to restore fiscal discipline to the management of the city’s finances, create jobs for District residents, expand economic development in neighborhoods outside of downtown, make sure that District children get a first-class education and make communities safer.
Gray recalled the earlier years of his administration, when the District’s future didn’t look so rosy. “Given where we are today, it’s easy to forget the magnitude of the challenges we faced then,” he said, citing high unemployment, rapid depletion of the city’s rainy day fund, stalled economic development projects, a large budget deficit and structural problems in the District’s financial and human resources.
“And so we quickly got to work,” he said. “Four years later, I’m proud to say that the District is stronger today than at any moment in our history.”
The mayor painstakingly went through almost all of his successful initiatives dealing with early childhood education; economic development projects such as the upcoming Skyland Town Center, CityCenter and the Walter Reed campus; modernizing schools such as Dunbar and Ballou Senior High School and being one of the few state-level jurisdictions to execute the Affordable Care Act without serious glitches.
On Jan. 2, Gray will hand over the city’s helm to Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, who defeated him in the April 1 Democratic mayoral primary. He had recommended that Bowser and her team continue to be fiscally prudent; grow and diversify the city’s economy; keep the city diverse socially, economically and racially; continue school reform; make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions that are in the best interest of the city and practice openness and transparency.
Gray, in his closing, said that he will remain active in the city. “In two weeks, I will step down as your mayor — but not as your friend, your neighbor, or your advocate,” he said. “This is not a farewell. I look forward to seeing each and every one of you around the city.”