Every new mayor takes office with a vision for where he or she hopes to lead the city and at least some semblance of a mandate from the voters.
But after the votes have been counted, elected officials need more complete—and more nuanced— insight on what their constituents want and need.
In the weeks immediately following Mayor Bowser’s election, DC residents saw representatives from Talking Transition DC fanned out across the city, iPads in hand, asking residents about their priorities for the new administration.
Two big issues surfaced as priorities for just about every group of residents in every part of the city: social service quality and housing affordability topped the list of concerns across different geographic and demographic groups.
The same issues rose to the top of the list again at a citizens’ summit, where a representative group of 400 city residents met for a full day to discuss their priorities for the new mayor.
These two sources of resident input were supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundations for a project called Talking Transition, aimed at amplifying the voices of all DC’s residents in shaping Mayor Bowser’s agenda.
The Urban Institute also contributed to the Talking Transition effort, convening small groups of knowledgeable stakeholders to talk about actions the new administration can take to tackle the challenges that matter most to DC residents.
In December, Urban researchers produced three memos to the Mayor: on housing, schools, and open data. Today, we released three more, focusing on social and economic mobility, our vibrant economy, and public safety.
At her State of the City address, Mayor Bowser pledged to “always seek solutions that engage and empower our residents.” The Urban Institute shares that goal, and looks forward to sharing such solutions, grounded in the rigorous research of our experts, throughout her administration.
For more information, check out Challenges and Choices for the New Mayor and www.talkingtransitiondc.com.