Monday, January 15, 2007

Introducing Ms. Muriel Bowser candidate for Ward 4 City Council

On Sunday I had the opportunity to sit down with Ms. Muriel Bowser at Petworth's very own Domku restaurant. I met with Ms. Bowser promptly at 10 a.m. and I was pleased to see that she had already arrived and was waiting for me. Ms. Bowser insisted that I call her Muriel so I will do so throughout this post to avoid any confusion with the other candidate Bowser. Muriel had a bit of raspy voice presumably from constant campaigning. Muriel had a tea and I had a coffee (and later some borsht). So we proceeded with our interview with the sweet tunes that Domku always spins humming in the background.


Muriel is a native Washingtonian and currently lives in Riggs Park. Muriel graduated high school from Elizabeth Seton and grew up in the neighborhood of North Michigan Park with her parents and five siblings. She noted that her father was one of the first ANC's ever elected. She attended Chatham College in Pittsburg, PA where she received a degree in history. She came back to Washington, DC where she worked for a couple of years in the private sector before receiving a Master's degree in public policy from American University in 2000. Muriel currently works for Montgomery County as the assistant director for the Silver Spring regional center. This center essentially focuses like a mini town hall representing 150,000 residents. Muriel believes that this experience will serve her well should she be elected to Washington's city council. Muriel made it clear that should she be elected she would completely devote her work to the city council. Muriel became an ANC member for Riggs Park in 2004. Muriel is perhaps best known as the Ward 4 Precinct Coordinator for the Fenty 2006 Mayoral Campaign. Muriel has received Mayor Fenty's endorsement.

Muriel had worked with then Councilman Fenty in her position as an ANC member of Riggs Park. She noted that they worked closely on a range of issues including a gas spill, development issues and bringing a new recreation center to the area. As Ward 4 coordinator for Fenty, Muriel was exposed to the entire Ward and all the issues it faces. She believes they work well together because they share similar leadership styles.

Public Education

Muriel believes that this issue is important to all residents. "Where our schools go our city will go,” she explained. The fact that the city is not graduating half of our kids is a huge problem according to Muriel. She said that this is a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed. She believes that we now have a strong executive to work on this problem and she supports Fenty's plan for the schools. She believes it is extremely important that our kids graduate with the appropriate skills so that they can participate in the economy. She said that we need programs that are worthwhile to the kids. She believes that these programs should equip our kids with the requisite skills so that they can go right into the workforce. She also believes that there are greater socio economic factors at play. She firmly believes that we need to make sure that our schools attract a diverse student body. Ultimately the schools should attract students that could go to private schools but choose to go to our public schools.


Muriel believes that we need to face the known criminal activity currently in our communities. She continued, "We need focused efforts at removing the problems that we know exist." She believes there is a vicious circle at play whereby the criminals are arrested and go through the system quickly and then return to the community without any viable alternatives to distract them from returning to their crimes. By making opportunities available we can break the vicious cycle, she said. At the same time she believes that the police have a job to do. She is adamant that we cannot have drug dealers taking over our communities. Rather, she argues that the police need to become involved with the communities. She said "obviously, we need to see the police on the street and we need them to come to community meetings but the police need to be involved before the problems arise." If the police get involved in the community before the problems arise and participate in regular community gatherings then there will be a solid trust built, she explained. It is essential that the police get to know the residents so that the residents feel comfortable and trust the police should a problem arise, she explained. Muriel supports the use of police cameras but only as a tool that can help them do their job better. She was concerned that the cameras may simply push the criminal activity a few blocks away from the cameras.


Pride and ownership of the community is essential to battling this problem according to Muriel. She believes that we should take advantage of tools that exist like anti-littering campaigns but it is also up to local residents and community associations. She said, "If we see trash we should pick it up". However, we have to make sure that the city services are also doing their part. In particular she mentioned that the city needs to make sure that trashcans are emptied when overflowing and to make sure that other basic services are fulfilled. She explained how the issue of litter is actually quite important and cited the broken windows theory. She explained that if there is trash on the streets, then that may lead to people placing graffiti on walls, which could lead to greater crimes. She explained that if the issue of litter remains unchecked then the neighborhoods would continue to slide. "We have to draw the line", she said "and why not draw the line at litter." She believes there should be a zero tolerance policy toward litter. When pushed to explain how a zero tolerance policy would be implemented she advocated a marketing campaign. However, she reiterated that the city has to do its part so that residents know they are not alone in this battle.

Development on Georgia Avenue and the Old Soldiers and Sailors Home

Muriel would like to make sure that the residents have their say in what types of development occur. She believes that the office of planning has done a great job starting the process with their great streets program. Specific issues that need to be addressed are parking, public safety and litter. She encourages a strong monitoring process to ensure that these issues are addressed. When asked what she herself would like to see occur, Muriel mentioned that she would like to spend her dollars in DC. Therefore, she would like to see a sit down restaurant, a coffee shop, a grocery store, a hair salon, a dry cleaners but she explained that we need to make sure that we have entertainment for our seniors. She would like to see any development mixed to ensure that we can "eat, dine, shop, work and play." She believes that this type of development will continue to attract people to our neighborhoods. She did mention that this development should be sustainable to ensure that there are not adverse environmental effects.

When asked about the availability of green spaces to residents in the Old Soldiers home, Muriel explained that green space is important throughout the Ward. She said that we need to be creative to make sure each community not only has green space but also to ensure affordable housing. She said that affordable housing and green space are hard to quantify but they are invaluable. Regarding green space, Muriel explained that it was essential to have public spaces where our kids can play, where our pets can walk and where we can maintain our fitness. Furthermore, she said, these public spaces are vital to community development so that people can go outside and congregate. One way to achieve this goal is work closely with the adjacent affected communities like Ward 5.

Proposed Homeless Shelter move to Georgia Ave.

Muriel mentioned that she often hears that Ward 4 cares very much about those less fortunate but that Ward 4 is already shouldering its fair share. She believes these types of programs should be spread out throughout all the Wards. Therefore, she does not support the move.

Yard Signs

Muriel explained that she heard of only two people that received her yard sign in error. In one case she explained that local neighborhood kids moved one of the signs. However, she was adamant that anyone who receives a yard sign in error could have it immediately removed. Furthermore, she will personally apologize to whomever this happens. But since she has only heard of two instances, she does not believe this is a big issue. She believes it is resolved.

For Fun

Muriel is currently reading Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope.

Musically, Muriel is an intense Prince fan (ed note: Prince the musician not the Prince who is writing these words.) but she enjoys a wide range of music and is currently listening to Nina Simone.

Muriel doesn't get to see too many movies but is a big James Bond fan and is looking forward to seeing Dreamgirls and the Pursuit of Happyness.

In Sum

Muriel Bowser is clearly one of the front-runners for this election with the support of Mayor Fenty. Like Fenty she is quite young and certainly brings a lot of passion to Ward 4 politics. She didn't seem to be pandering to issues of particular interest to Petworth residents. However, one of my concerns is that she didn't seem to have too many innovative or new ideas to address the standard problems facing our community. I do believe she has the passion and the intelligence to be a strong advocate for Ward 4. I only hope that her youth and relative inexperience will not affect her ability to work with the current council members.

If you would like to learn more you can visit her website at


Anonymous said...

As a regular attendee of Ward4 PSA and ANC meetings, I do not find Muriel Bowser to be nearly as engaged in her constituent area as her campaign would have the voters believe. On numerous ocassions, I have attended meetings where public safety issues in her SMD were represented by ANC commissioners in the neighboring SMDs.

As a renting resident of Ward4, I was especially alarmed by comments she made, and were duly recorded, at a January 2006 specially called ANC 4B meeting to dicsuss zoning relief for a Kennedy Street development project. Her commission colleagues recommended soliciting concerns about the zoning impact, from tenants in the apartment building adjacent to the proposed development. In response, Ms. Bowser abruptly snapped, "Well they can MOVE!" I registered my disappointmentabout her comments, during that meeting, and I intend to do likewise at the polls in May.

RC Page

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that muriel bowser could give an interview and LIE! She does nothing in her own community where I live and know...I have had to call Cherita Whiting another commissioner (I think she is the chair) to seek help..because Muriel Bowser never responds...and most in the neighborhood don't even know who she is.and if she is so community minded, why are their guys selling drugs on the coner where she lives, Oh I guess she doesn't see them.

Anonymous said...

I didn't appreciate being spammed by Muriel's campaign last week. I will be voting for the OTHER Bowser, that is RENEE BOWSER, the current chair of ANC 4D. I suggest the Prince do an interview with her. You might find that she is engaged in the community and has some innovative ideas for the residents of Ward 4.

Prince of Petworth said...

I have an interviewed a number of Ward 4 candidates including Renee Bowser. Simply type in Ward 4 in the search box and all of the posts will come up. Renee Bowser's interview took place last week so if you go to the main page and scroll down you will find it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This is to the person who said Muriel Bowser's campaign slammed them last week...Pay it no mind...Muriel is the worst person to even consider winning this election...she tries to act like she is so smart and does so much when infact their is one of her residents who has been waiting 6 MONTHS for her to come to his house....SHE NEVER DID so he called a reporter to come and see the bullet hole in his window. WHERE HAS MURIEL BEEN FOR 6 MONTHS...OH YEAH OUT IN HER NEIGHBORHOOD..But not dealing with her own people!

Anonymous said...

Let me just say that before this council seat was vacant...nobody never heard of Muriel Bowser...she had never stpped foot in a meeting outside of the anc she is on...The talk was out there before the mayors race was done before the mayor's exploratory time that Muriel Bowser was not a community person.
So when people are commenting now...these very samethings had been said for the last 2 years.
I have read in washpost articles that another commissioner did all of the work and not Muriel why that said to Mureil and others alike....that has been the word, it's nothing new, she has herself to blame....when people come to you for help and you brush them off or you don't respond...the truth comes out....and it's out now.

Anonymous said...

Muriel must think that we voters are as spaced out as she is...there were 3 different websites that listed with messages from Brightwood, Takoma and Shepard Park listserves from different people stating that they came home or woke up to find Muriel Bowser yard signs in there yards that WERE NOT she states that it was maybe a kid switching I guess this kid went to all of these different neighborhoods huh! Maybe it was an address mixup she also stated....I guess she is mixed up all over the ward that she wants to control...where she doesn't even know who lives where, what street, what their door number is....please continue interviewing those candidates that actually know this great ward please...THANKS...and for the Muriel people who don't like they they don't know who is writing the "truth" about her spend time getting your/drian's yard sign list in order.

Anonymous said...

I was at a candidate forum last night and only 1 candidate got all of the questions right on the education questions and it was "NOT" Muriel Bowser, but she stood there and stated that she works with the Principal and PTA at her neighborhood school all the time but didn't get the answers correct to the basic questions about her neighborhood school.....very interesting!

Anonymous said...

Last nite's forum enabled me to eliminate the majority of candidates from my list of potentials. Most of them didn't seem prepared to deliver thoughtful responses to distinguish themselves. Some of them made inaccurate reactive statements. For instance, during the public safety portion, a candidate stated that MPD offers auto theft prevention tips only during the pre-Christmas period when auto theft is known to increase. That is untrue, as 4D, has consistently provided this info: (1) on community lists, (2) distribution of pamphlets at PSA meetings, and (3) ocassional direct foot beat campaign where officers have left "ticket" notices on cars.

The responses to the education portion were largely uninspired. Going forward, I hope to hear some better-researched propositions from the candidates.

not so anonymous, Tracie said...

I was really looking forward to reading this report, and I must admit that I am saddened and concerned about this ward 4 race. This race is so important to ward 4 residents, and as a long time Riggs Park resident, I have to say that Muriel came in on the "tail end" of many issues concerning her constituents. The recreation center plans were developed and signed by residents at least two years prior to Muriel's involvement. Development issues were "handed" over to Muriel and the full LRCA, after the inital work was developed by the RPC for Neighborhood Development, a now defunct community group. The gasoline spill was an issue first brought to the attention of the community by residents hardest hit by the gasoline plume in 2000. Residents then demanded that then councilmember Fenty advocate on our behalf, for which he did in brilliant fashion. Again, Muriel came to meetings only as she felt "necessary". I was shocked to read that Muriel worked on dealing with issues for the neighborhood school. This must have occured in recent months, because for the years that my daughter attended Lasalle, Muriel was never there. In fact, I recently spoke to Muriel to express my concerns about the maintenance and cleanliness of the school grounds, and Muriel said she would look into it. Five months later, I step outside to see that tire tracks continue to streak across the ballfield. I am so fed up,and tired of complaining to deaf ears because Muriel and her advisors believe that I dislke them, however that is so far from the truth. I just want my neighborhood to be as clean and safe as neighborhoods in the upper northwest quad of ward 4. So please, lets all stay informed, and gather as much information as necessary before we vote in May. We've experienced the best, and deserve the best representation on the city council.

Anonymous said...

I have not made up my mind about the ward 4 council race, so I am attending all events to get a feel for each candidate. That being said,I attended a kickoff fundraiser at Bill Lightfoot's house for Muriel Bowser. This fundraiser spared no expense, live band, large, heated tent on the tennis court, shrimp cocktails and host of people from all over the city and beyond. Obviously, this was the Mayors's entourage and his event. Anyway,I must say that I was disappointed in Ms. Bowser's showing, from her reading her speech to her stating she supports Fenty in his school takeover. Now, my question for her is simply this, how can you support that without seeing the plan or have you seen the plan? Regardless, you are rubber stamping something that nobody else has seen. Also, when Ms. Bowser mentioned that she was for "affordable housing", I just smiled and said to myself you are kidding right, we are on a tennis court at somebody's private house. And you are telling everybody that you are for affordable housing...things that make you go...hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Muriel Bowser will "rubber stamp" whatever the mayor proposes, without research, thought or regard for anyone, which is why she is the mayor's candidate of choice.

Anonymous said...

Traci....ain't never lied....muriel bowser will tell you she invented the sun, if you let her!

Anonymous said...

I was also at the meeting where Muriel Bowser made the comment that the "renters could move"....I guess they couldn't move in with Lightfoot and all the shrimp though..huh?
Everyone seemed to notice that she was reading her speech instead of knowing what to say or saying how she felt from the heart.
Tracie is so so right...Muriel has put that she did everything in Riggs park like no one did anything before she moved there which is a total lie. Riggs Park was better before her and will be better off when she moves.
The Rec Center gets me...I mean meetings have been going on for years and she wasn't even living in Riggs Park...the gas leak my child was at LaSalle then and we were meeting and getting things done and now in high school and Muriel claims to be the cause of things getting done so how can Muriel Bowser claim she did anything not even living in the community?

Jeff, Colonial Village said...

I was at the forum on public safety and education. For the record, Michael Brown was the only one to get all his questions right. What's sad is that of 16 people on that stage, only one person knew about their local school.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Hagler has announced that he lead the protest against the same liqour store that muriel says she lead the protest against....well after doing some digging I found a newspaper article inwhich only 1 of these two are shown leading a protest....and it is.....
REV. HAGLER....Why is muriel bowser not telling the true about herself? Is this who you want as your councilperson....I mean the picture doesn't lie and I guess she didn't know about the picture since she is NOT as active in her community as "SHE" STATES CAUSE HER RESIDENTS SURE DON'T THINK SO.

Anonymous said...

Muriel Bowser didn't even get elected or nominated as an officer in her own ANC....Now if those who work with her on the ANC don't see her as a leader....then why should we????