Muriel Bowser

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Muriel Bowser
Muriel Bowser1.jpg
Mayor of Washington, D.C.
In office
January 2, 2015 - Present
Term ends
Years in position 0
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 4, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Washington, D.C. City Council
Ward 4
2007 - 2015
High schoolElizabeth Seton High School
Bachelor'sChatham College
Master'sAmerican University
Date of birthAugust 2, 1972
Place of birthWashington, D.C.
Office website
Campaign website
Muriel Bowser (b. August 2, 1972) is the Mayor of Washington, D.C. She was elected to the position on November 4, 2014, and was sworn into office on January 2, 2015.[1]

Bowser previously represented Ward 4 on the Washington, D.C. City Council from 2007 to 2015. She was elected to the council in 2007 in a special election to fill the Ward 4 seat when it was vacated by former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty. Bowser won election to a full term in 2008 and was re-elected for a second term in 2012.

Before being elected to city council, Bowser served on the Washington, D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission from 2004-2007.[2]


Bowser was born in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, Maryland. She holds a B.A. in History from Chatham College and an M.A. in Public Policy from American University.[2]


Below is a brief summary of Bowser's political career.

  • 2015-Present: Mayor of Washington, D.C.
  • 2007-2015: Washington, D.C. City Council, Ward 4
  • 2004-2007: Washington, D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission


2024 Olympic Games

In December 2014, Bowser travelled to Redwood City, California to make a presentation to the U.S. Olympic Committee, advocating for Washington, D.C. to be selected as the site of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. "We recognize that hosting the Games would not only be a tremendous opportunity for our city, but a great place to foster international unity and friendly competition among the best athletes in the world," said Bowser.

D.C. was one of four cities making presentations to the committee. The other three were Los Angeles, California, Boston, Massachusetts and San Francisco, California.[3]

Education reform

In June 2014, Bowser indicated that, if elected as mayor, she would retain Kaya Henderson as the Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools. In April 2014, Bowser noted, "I talked to Kaya immediately after our primary and to really understand her vision for the schools, how she’s going to urgently attack some issues, including how we’re going to invest in middle schools and close the achievement gap. She demonstrated to me that she has the urgency and vision."[4]

Also related to education reform in D.C., Bowser sharply criticized outgoing Mayor Vincent Gray's plans to redraw school boundaries on several different occasions. In May 2014, for example, Bowser said, "I don’t think it should be pushed through, and if there cannot be a reasonable way to relook at the current proposals — which I am not satisfied with any of them, not ‘A,’ not ‘B,’ and not ‘C’ – I don’t support any of them the way they have been presented ... I want to be real clear about what my position is: My position is that any proposal has to guarantee that a family has a right to go to their neighborhood school, at elementary school, at middle school and at high school. Period."

Marijuana legalization

In March 2014, Bowser voted in favor of a bill in city council that decriminalized small amounts of marijuana.[5] The bill reduced penalties for possessing an ounce of marijuana or less from six months in prison and a $1,000 fine to no jail time and a $25 fine for possession or a $100 fine for public use. She was also one of many D.C. citizens, who signed a petition in support of an approved 2014 ballot measure known as Initiative 71, which allows D.C. residents to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, to grow up to six cannabis plants and to use or sell marijuana related paraphernalia.[6]


In the summer of 2014, Bowser voted alongside twelve other council members in favor of budget cuts for a D.C. streetcar project supported by outgoing Mayor Vincent Gray. In July, Bowser said, "In the seven years I've been on the council, and worked on budgets, I've never gotten everything that I wanted. Sometimes I got things I didn't want ... Time and time again we've put money into the streetcars and we have yet to see results."[7][8]

However, in a platform pamphlet titled Moving Forward Together: Priorities for the District’s Future that she released in September 2014, Bowser voiced her support for a streetcar line running along H Street and Benning Road NE, saying, "The simulated streetcar service expected to begin in October 2014 along H Street and Benning Road NE is a welcome sign of progress for residents of the District, as a fully operational streetcar will provide additional transit options for District residents and visitors alike." Bowser went on to say, "there is much to be learned from the process that will eventually lead to the operation of the District’s first streetcar line in 50 years, and District residents have been rightfully concerned about the project’s excess costs and delays. As Mayor, Muriel Bowser will lead a comprehensive assessment of the DC Streetcar project to learn from missteps made, correct planning and operational deficiencies by reforming the District’s procurement apparatus, and responsibly and confidently move forward with an expansion of streetcar service in a way that meets the needs of District residents and visitors."[9]

Affordable housing

In Moving Forward Together: Priorities for the District’s Future and at a candidate forum in October, Bowser pledged, if elected, that she would dedicate $100 million per year to affordable housing in D.C. in order to meet a goal of 10,000 units per year. She also noted in Moving Forward Together that she would "demand that at the very least 20% of units built on District-owned land be reserved for low-income households."[10][11]

Closely connected to issue of affordable housing is Bowser's handling of an investigation of a dilapidated low-income housing unit in southeastern D.C. called Park Southern Apartments. In the summer of 2014, the apartment complex, which is home to about 700 D.C. residents, faced scrutiny for deteriorating conditions and delinquent mortgage payments totaling $628,000.[12] The handling of such issues in D.C. falls to the Committee on Economic Development, of which Bowser is the Chair. In July, however, Bowser turned the issue over to the city's inspector general.[13]

Bowser has faced criticism for her handling of the Park Southern situation because of her political connections to the president of the nonprofit responsible for overseeing the apartment complex, Rowena Joyce Scott, as well as the former Park Southern Property Manager, Phinis Jones. Scott and Jones have both been vocal supporters of Bowser's mayoral campaign, which has caused some, such as one of her 2014 mayoral opponents David Catania (I), to argue that she has attempted to protect political supporters.[14][15]

D.C. statehood

After a campaign event and meeting with Florida congresswoman and chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) in October 2014, the D.C. focused political site Roll Call asked Bowser if she had discussed the issues of D.C. statehood and voting rights with Wasserman and other national Democrats. Bowser responded by saying, "Well, there’s certainly a lot of federal issues before the District of Columbia, and statehood, and budget autonomy, and legislative autonomy are certainly tops of our list. So, as mayor, we’ve laid out a program of how we’re going to better work with the Congress and fight a new fight for that autonomy and statehood."[16]

Bowser elaborated on the issue of statehood in Moving Forward Together: Priorities for the District’s Future, saying, "In creating a strong local government system in the District of Columbia, through the promotion of open and good government, the District should be better positioned to demand an end to federal taxation without representation. District residents should no longer be disenfranchised. As Mayor, Muriel Bowser is committed to achieving transparent budget autonomy and pushing forward to achieve statehood for all District residents."[17]

Campaign themes


On her campaign website, Bowser highlighted the issues below.[18] She also released a 44 page pamphlet titled Moving Forward Together: Priorities for the District’s Future, which can be viewed here.


  • Excerpt: "Muriel will expand early childhood learning opportunities to give our kids a strong foundation for kindergarten—and the years ahead. She will invest in quality feeder schools, so that our middle schoolers are prepared for the rigors of higher learning. And she’ll enhance our children’s preparation for the workforce with quality career and technical educational programs.For teachers and students, she’ll provide the resources and flexibility to increase instructional time, and provide additional resources to schools with innovative programs found to be effective in significantly advancing academic growth."


  • Excerpt: "Muriel will drive infrastructure investment by initiating creative solutions like public/private partnerships that will allow greater flexibility and increased revenues while protecting the interests of DC’s residents."


  • Excerpt: "DC needs a government that works for the people and is open to the people. Muriel will open our government so that DC residents have the ability to discuss their concerns and make suggestions of what we can do better. We also need government agencies made up of the best and the brightest we can attract. Muriel will seek cabinet members, employees and others who possess both substantial credentials in a professional discipline but also a solid grounding in ethical management and decision-making. Good judgment will be a hallmark of Bowser Administration officials at all levels, their actions will be held to the highest standards of ethical behavior and management."

The Economy

  • Excerpt: "Muriel will work to make sure that all of DC’s residents can find sustainable employment that allows them to succeed by increasing the city’s minimum wage, working to increase educational opportunities beyond just 4-year degree programs and providing incentives for businesses to move into the District and flourish."



See also: Washington, D.C. mayoral election, 2014

Washington, D.C. held mayoral elections on November 4, 2014. A primary election took place on April 1. Muriel Bowser defeated incumbent Vincent Gray, Carlos Allen, Christian A. Carter, Jack Evans, Michael Green, Reta Jo Lewis, Vincent Orange, Luis Poblete, Frank Sewell, Andy Shallal, Octavia Wells and Tommy Wells in the Democratic primary. Faith was unopposed in the D.C. Statehood Green Party primary, while Bruce Majors was unopposed in the Libertarian primary.

In the general election, Bowser defeated face Faith, Majors, David Catania (I), Nestor Djonkam (I) and Carol Schwartz (I).[19][20][21]

Mayor of Washington, D.C. General Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMuriel Bowser 54.5% 96,666
     Independent Nestor Djonkam 0.3% 460
     Independent David Catania 34.6% 61,388
     Green Faith 0.9% 1,520
     Independent Carol Schwartz 7% 12,327
     Libertarian Bruce Majors 0.7% 1,297
     Other Write-in 0.9% 1,612
     Other Under and Over Votes 1.2% 2,088
Total Votes 177,358
Source: Washington, D.C. Board of Elections - General Election Results
Washington D.C. Democratic Mayoral Primary Election Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMuriel Bowser 43.4% 42,045
Vincent Gray Incumbent 32.6% 31,613
Jack Evans 5% 4,877
Andy Shallal 3.3% 3,196
Reta Lewis 0.5% 490
Vincent Orange 2% 1,946
Carlos Allen 0.1% 120
Tommy Wells 12.8% 12,393
Write-in 0.2% 235
Total Votes 96,915
Source: Washington D.C. Board of Elections

In October 2014, Bowser received endorsements from President Barack Obama (D), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and the Washington Post.[22][23][24]

According to a report by the Washington Post, Bowser's campaign had approximately $1 million on hand as of October 11, 2014.[25]


In 2012, Bowser defeated five challengers in the April 3 primary election.[26] She ran unopposed in the November 6 general election.[27]

Washington, D.C. City Council, Ward 4, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMuriel Bowser Incumbent 97.3% 33,045
     Other Write-in 2.7% 933
Total Votes 33,978
Washington, D.C. City Council, Ward 4 Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMuriel Bowser Incumbent 66.4% 7,541
Judi Jones 3.3% 371
Max Skolnik 9.2% 1,042
Baruti Jahi 5.4% 619
Renee L. Bowser 13.4% 1,523
Calvin "Gurley" 2.4% 268
Total Votes 11,364


In 2008, Bowser defeated three challengers in the September 9 primary election.[28] She ran unopposed in the November 4 general election.[29]

Washington, D.C. City Council, Ward 4, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMuriel Bowser Incumbent 97.1% 30,888
     Other Write-in 2.9% 936
Total Votes 31,824
Washington, D.C. City Council, Ward 4, 2008
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMuriel Bowser Incumbent 75.3% 7,132
Paul E. Montague 3.2% 302
Malik F. Mendenhall-Johnson 2.5% 236
Baruti Jahi 19% 1,800
Total Votes 9,470


In 2007, Bowser defeated 18 opponents in a May 1 special election to replace outgoing Ward 4 representative Adrian Fenty.[30]

Washington, D.C. City Council, Ward 4, 2007
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMuriel Bowser 40.4% 5,064
     Democratic Tony Towns 3.1% 390
     Democratic Michael Brown 27.4% 3,433
     Democratic Michael Green 0.4% 49
     Democratic Artee Milligan 1.4% 170
     Democratic Carroll Green 0.9% 117
     Democratic Robert Childs 2.7% 339
     Democratic James Clark 0.1% 17
     Democratic Lisa Bass 0.9% 110
     Democratic Charles Gaither 5.4% 683
     Independent Judi Jones 1.2% 154
     Democratic T. A. Uqdah 0.7% 82
     Democratic Graylan Hagler 3.7% 468
     Democratic Marlenda Edwards 0.8% 97
     Green Renee Bowser 4.6% 583
     Democratic Roy Howell 0.1% 10
     Democratic Lisa Bradford 0.6% 72
     Democratic Douglass Sloan 0.8% 98
     Democratic Dwight Singleton 4.9% 609
Total Votes 12,545



"Why I'm Voting for Muriel Bowser."

"I'm Running for Mayor."

"Kids Ride Free"



2014 Mayor of Washington, D.C.
Poll Muriel Bowser David CataniaCarol SchwartzOtherUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
NBC4/Washington Post/Marist DC Poll
(September 14-16, 2014)
Economic Growth DC CapitalDecision2014 Poll
(September 28-30, 2014)
AVERAGES 39% 25.5% 14% 0.5% 21% +/-3 1,046.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to



In 2014, Bowser's endorsements included the following:[31]

  • President Barack Obama[22]
  • Governor Martin O'Malley[23]
  • Governor Terry McAuliffe[23]
  • District of Columbia Electrical Association
  • National Association of Government Employees local R3-05
  • International Association of Firefighters, Local 36[32]
  • Service Employees International Union[33]
  • Emily’s List
  • Women’s Campaign Fund
  • Stein Club
  • The Washington Post[24]
  • U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
  • Mayor Anthony Williams, District of Columbia, 1999-2007
  • District of Columbia Councilmember Anita Bonds (at-large)
  • District of Columbia Councilmember Vincent Orange (at-large)
  • District of Columbia Councilmember Jack Evans (Ward 2)
  • District of Columbia Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6)
  • District of Columbia Councilmember Yvette Alexander (Ward 7)
  • District of Columbia Councilmember Marion Barry (Ward 8)


Bowser is the daughter of Joe and Joan Bowser. She has four siblings.[34]

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  1. Washington Post, "Muriel Bowser sworn in as D.C. mayor; pledges to make city healthier, safer," January 2, 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 Muriel for Mayor, "About," accessed on August 5, 2014
  3. Washington Times, "Bowser pitches District for 2024 Olympics," December 16, 2014
  4. Washington Post, "Muriel Bowser commits to keeping Kaya Henderson as D.C. schools chancellor," June 11, 2014
  5. Washington Post, "Poll: D.C. voters poised to legalize pot, elevating national debate over marijuana," September 18, 2014
  6. Vox, "The small and scrappy campaign that could legalize marijuana in Washington, DC," October 7, 2014
  7. In the Capitol, "DC Council Votes to Override Mayor Gray's Budget Veto," July 14, 2014
  8. Net City, "How Transportation Is Shaping Three 2014 Mayoral Races," September 5, 2014
  9. Moving Forward Together: Priorities for the District’s Future pg. 30
  10. Moving Forward Together: Priorities for the District’s Future pg. 25-26
  11. WAMU, "At Second Debate, Bowser And Catania Sharpen Attacks — And Tensions Boil Over," October 2, 2014
  12. Washington Post, "D.C. housing complex’s decline raises questions about management, politics," July 13, 2014
  13. Washington Post, "Aiming to quiet critics, Muriel Bowser requests investigation of Park Southern," July 15, 2014
  14. Washington Post, "Citing housing mess, David Catania presses Muriel Bowser to return ally’s donations," August 13, 2014
  15. Washington Post, "D.C. officials turn to Bowser supporter for answers in Park Southern controversy," July 16, 2014
  16. Roll Call, "Will Bowser Push Democrats on D.C. Statehood?" October 10, 2014
  17. Moving Forward Together: Priorities for the District’s Future pg. 41
  18. Muriel for Mayor, "Issues," accessed on August 5, 2014
  19. District of Columbia Board of Elections, "Official primary candidate list," accessed June 16, 2014
  20. District of Columbia Board of Elections, "Official primary election results," accessed June 16, 2014
  21. Washington D.C. Board of Elections, "General Election Sample Ballot," accessed on October 13, 2014
  22. 22.0 22.1 Washington Post, "President Obama endorses Muriel Bowser amid hard-fought D.C. mayor race," October 6, 2014
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Muriel for Mayor, "Governors Martin O’Malley and Terry McAuliffe Endorse Muriel Bowser," October 2, 2014
  24. 24.0 24.1 Washington Post, "The Post endorses Muriel Bowser for D.C. mayor," October 17, 2014
  25. Washington Post, "Muriel Bowser has $1 million to spend in final weeks of D.C. mayoral race," October 11, 2014
  26. Washington D.C. Board of Elections, "2012 April 3 Primary Election Results," accessed on October 9, 2014
  27. Washington D.C. Board of Elections, "2012 November 6 General Election Results," accessed on October 9, 2014
  28. Washington D.C. Board of Elections, "2008 September 9 Primary Election Results," accessed on October 9, 2014
  29. Washington D.C. Board of Elections, "2008 November 4 General Election Results," accessed on October 9, 2014
  30. Washington D.C. Board of Elections, "2007 May 1 Special Election Results," accessed on October 9, 2014
  31. Unless noted otherwise, information on Bowser's 2014 endorsements come from her campaign website: Muriel for Mayor, "Endorsements," accessed August 5, 2014
  32. NBC Washington, "Firefighter's Union Endorses Muriel Bowser," September 10, 2014
  33. Washington Blade, "Bowser wins SEIU endorsement; Catania backed by guv," October 2, 2014
  34. Washington Post, "Muriel Bowser’s D.C. mayoral ambitions come from her dad, not Adrian Fenty," October 13, 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Vincent Gray
Mayor of Washington, D.C.
2015 - Present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Adrian Fenty
Washington, D.C. City Council, Ward 4
Succeeded by