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Still Mayor Vince Gray would like to tell you what he got done—-do you have a couple hours? In a speech last night that ran nearly as long as his term in office, Gray recounted the best parts of his administration and gave some recommendations for the next one.
After a prayer where Gray was described as a “native son” with a “destiny” for helping people, the soon-to-be-ex mayor took the stage at Dunbar High School, his alma mater.
“It’s hard to say goodbye,” Gray said, his voice catching.
Gray’s speech focused on the highlights of his administration: an expansion in early childhood education, the Dakota Crossing Costco, the last-minute D.C. United stadium deal. Gray bolstered his case with the launch last night of two legacy sites and the release of a booklet recounting his accomplishments. One of the sites is hosted outside of the District government’s servers, presumably to escape any post-inauguration purge from Near Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Gray’s speech avoided any mention of the federal investigation that helped ensure an end to his administration. He also ditched the aggressive speechifying of his primary campaign—-he skipped a portion of his prepared remarks where he alluded to Adrian Fenty‘s administration offering the city a “false choice” between “progress and inclusion.”
Instead, the predominant mood was wistfulness. Gray noted accomplishments by former cabinet members, who had moved onto other jobs months earlier. As audience members filtered out when Gray was only halfway through his speech, he thanked the crowd for indulging him one more time.
“You know what?” Gray said. “I ain’t coming back here to do this again.”
Gray saved what little criticism he had for the D.C. Council. He criticizing them for rejecting his plan to put control of the Height Act in city hands, and for hamstringing senior citizen tax breaks proposed by Councilmember Anita Bonds. Bonds, incidentally, was one of only three councilmembers Gray noted attended the farewell.
Also a Gray target: Rep. Andy Harris, the Maryland Republican behind congressional attempts to quash marijuana legalization in the District. Gray said he had one question for Harris: “Man, what have you been smoking?”
Despite spending four years that was marked by scandal almost as soon as it started, Gray claimed that being mayor of the District was “the greatest honor” of his life.
“Anybody who has a chance to serve in this job is absolutely blessed and should thank the people of the District of Columbia for the opportunity to serve,” Gray said. “At least on most days, anyway.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery