D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser enjoys a level of voter approval and community support that is the envy of urban chief executives across the country. No other big-city mayor, or even state governor, commands the type of affinity, affection, and acclamation as the District’s top elected official.
Bowser’s sky-high ratings are earned and deserved, and represent broad support for the vision and performance she has brought to the job throughout her first term. She is poised for re-election without having encountered any consequential opposition in either the city’s June Democratic party primary or Nov. 6 general election.
Mayor Bowser has chosen to leverage her political popularity by being the first incumbent top official in modern city history to endorse a candidate challenger seeking to defeat a controversial D.C. Council member.
That challenger, Dionne Reeder, deserves your support. The schismatic one-term incumbent, Elissa Silverman, does not.
D.C. voters get to cast two votes from among a combined list of candidates for two At-Large Council seats. The home rule charter stipulates that one of the two citywide spots each two-year cycle is to be filled by a non-majority-party candidate. Anita Bonds, the Democratic candidate, is expected to again lead in the vote totals and return to the Council for another four-year term.
Incumbent Bonds deserves your vote for one of the two seats up this year.
It is the competitive race for the other seat that represents an opportunity to oust a divisive and polemical voice from the Council and elect a dynamic hometown alternative with a compelling community history and service background.
The central component of Mayor Bowser’s success has been smartly welcoming all segments of the city to both civic engagement and policy discernment. Bowser’s philosophical approach has allowed her to become a proven leader in effectively addressing the range of issues and concerns confronting the city, within the distinct limits of government ability, while maximizing community consensus involving all stakeholders and not merely a few.
Silverman, in contrast, seems to savor seeding and fancy fomenting internecine clashes, excluding voices from consultation, insisting on ideological extremism, and precluding inclusive community investment in successful policy outcomes.
D.C. is a big-city place retaining a small-town accessibility allowing direct citizenry conversation and contribution. Silverman’s callous, impertinent, and all-too-common disregard for those with differing perspectives, notably the local business community, serves as a warning siren for unnecessary and counterproductive conflict.
The Washington Post editorial board, when heartily endorsing Reeder last weekend, characterized Silverman’s attitudinal liability by stating, “we don’t think her caustic treatment of people makes for good governing.”
Reeder, on the other hand, is an authentic community collaborator with impressive experience in both government-level and community-based program achievement and service delivery. Her method and manner is to roll up her sleeves, listen to all voices, consider all options, and seek the best approaches to solving problems and seeking remedies.
It’s time to encourage more of that from our local leaders, not less.
Reeder, an African-American Ward 1 resident and lesbian small-business restaurateur in Ward 8, is long accustomed to traversing local bridges in actual and emblematic fashion.
Her work as a congressional legislative assistant following D.C. public school and nearby-state university graduation, leadership developing and directing a local program preparing and assisting young residents to get into college, overseeing a city-funded effort to curb youth violence, appointment as Ward 8 neighborhood services coordinator under former Mayor Anthony Williams, and a decade managing the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative have ably prepared her for citywide service.
Married to her girlfriend of 19 years, Reeder is civil servant, community organizer, and small business operator. She offers the promise and potential of providing innovative solutions to some of our city’s toughest problems by uniting enterprise and residents as allies instead of dividing them as enemies.
A desire to continue moving D.C. forward recommends Reeder’s tenor, experience, and perspective.
Let’s put Dionne to work for all of us.