LL talked to Near Mayor Muriel Bowser for Washington City Paper‘s People Issue this week. But there’s much more mayor-elect talk to share.
Below, Bowser talks about Initiative 71, Still Mayor Vince Gray as cautionary tale, and how fellow councilmembers are treating her. Questions and answers have been condensed for clarity.
On convicted former campaign advisor Tom Lindenfeld:
Your former campaign advisor Tom Lindenfeld pleaded guilty earlier this month in a Philadelphia corruption scheme. When you found out about this investigation in Philadelphia, were you concerned that he had done anything inappropriate on your behalf?
No, that wasn’t our relationship with Tom. We paid him for his service, and he provided the service.
Now that you won election, the Cannabis Campaign people have been getting concerned about your press conference the day after, in which you said you wouldn’t implement Initiative 71 without the tax and regulate structure set up. Why can’t the initiative go into effect immediately after the congressional review?
Well, we have to have a way for people to procure legal cannabis.
They would say, “Growing is already legal under the initiative.”
Even then, we would have to have regulations around growing. We do.
And I don’t think they should be concerned. I think we all want the same things. And that’s what they want too, right? That’s what they have been promoting for as long as they’ve been lobbying me—-a tax and regulate regime. I think they’re right to promote that, and I don’t think they should be concerned about any efforts to unduly delay the process, because I want it to happen too.
On avoiding Vince Gray’s mistakes:
You mentioned the lessons of the Gray transition. What does trying to avoid the pitfalls of the last transition in your own consist of?
To be honest with you, I didn’t really pay that much attention to the transition period. I wasn’t involved in it. I wasn’t on any of the teams, my guy didn’t win, all those things.
But I feel strongly about the electoral process, and when the voters speak, everybody gets behind the mayor, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or with them or not with them. I only walked into it expecting that we would have a good four years with a new mayor.
But I think the early missteps around hiring sent the signal to the electorate: “Watch out. Everybody kind of watch out so things don’t go wrong.” We wanted to really have a focus on openness and transparency and ethics during our transition period, send that signal to the all the people that support us.”
On her soon-to-be former colleagues at the D.C. Council:
Do you find that people on the Council are treating you better now that you’re the future mayor?
They’ve always treated me well. But it is a change in roles, and we’ve gotten a chance to have face-to-face sitdowns I think with six councilmembers so far, and I’ll meet with everybody by mid-next week.
It’s been good. People are very cooperative. They want to get the work of this session done, as I do too, but also looking forward to what’s next.
When can we start hearing names of people in the Bowser administration?
I hope soon. It’s important. Especially I’d like to get the city administrator named so that he or she can help me with other appointments. So I would expect some of those to come out soon.
You think that’ll be your first one?
I’m hopeful. Unless there’s somebody really cool that we want to go with first, then that will happen. I promise. But we’re doing it feverishly.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery