The election is over. What comes next?
During a dynamic election season filled with house parties, meet and greets, and community-based candidate forums, DC voters took the time to get to know the candidates, hear their ideas for how everyone in the District can prosper, and eventually made their choices about who they believe will champion the issues they care about most. More than 200,000 residents (about 40% of registered voters) voted by mail, dropped off their ballot at a dropbox, voted at an early voting center, or went to the polls on November 8.
Most elections have been certified by now and the results reveal that several elected officials held on to their seats: Mayor Bowser, Chairman Phil Mendelson, Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1), and Charles Allen (Ward 6). Two new members will join the DC Council: Matthew Frumin (Ward 3) and Zachary Parker (Ward 5). Current Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie switched parties to run as an independent, and will now serve on the DC Council as an At-Large representative, replacing Elissa Silverman. Councilmember Anita Bonds was re-elected to her At-Large seat. New to elected office will be Brian Schwalb, replacing Karl Racine as DC Attorney General.
As elected officials staff up and prepare to take the oath of office in early January, we know bold action is still needed to address the persistent and racialized poverty that causes poor outcomes in child and youth well-being. The debate over policy design and implementation–as well as current and future investments–will be critical, especially because of soaring inflation and the continued underinvestment in Black and brown communities.
There are many potential challenges our leaders face in the coming year: an impending economic recession, the expiration of federal relief funds, and the commitment they made in their campaigns to address historic racial inequities. As Mayor Bowser sets her priorities for her third administration, and Chairman Mendelson sets a new committee structure for the incoming 25th DC Council session, we look to them to address each of these challenges head on, with relevant data, including the voices and experiences of residents and their families, and most importantly, center equity.
Initiative 82, fair wages for tipped restaurant workers, was approved with nearly three-quarters of the vote. This is an unequivocal victory for pay equity and working families with children. More hard earned money will go into the pockets of parents who work in restaurants, nail salons, and similar businesses, the overwhelming majority of whom are women and people of color. It was also a major win for democracy, as voters previously approved a nearly identical initiative four years ago, only to see it overturned by the DC Council before it could go into effect.
The number of ballots and the percentage of registered voters were down from 2018 but up from the 2014 election, the last two comparable elections. This was despite the DC Council taking steps to make it easier for people to vote, such as extending mail-in voting, without which turnout may have been even lower. The DC Council’s vote to make mail-in voting permanent and expand voting rights to non-citizen residents deserves special praise, though both await Mayor Bowser’s signature. While other parts of the country are erecting new barriers to voting rights, the District continues to lead by example to knock them down and build a more inclusive democracy.
DC Action will soon be releasing our communities collective priorities for the coming year, including the upcoming legislative and budget session. We look forward to sharing more in the coming new year.