My Twitter handle is @NJDC07! I am a lover of words, puzzles, poetry, schematics, word searches, crosswords anything that makes me read think and try to solve. Like, the late great Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) office was Room 317 in the Russell Senate Office Building. One day on a tour with some advocates, this was when I visited from NJ, the staff member asked “Can anyone think of the significance of the room number 317?” I answered of course it is for St. Patrick’s day which is March 17th or written 3/17! The staffer told me I was one of the few who got that.
Well, I digress, my Twitter handle is @NJDC07 and many people ask me, what does this stand for? I grew up in NJ and moved to DC in 2007 to live a dream. “Why are you going to DC?” “Who wants to live in that town, city? What exactly are they?” “I hope you are going to live in the SAFE part of town?” “You do KNOW they once were the murder capital of the country?” These were the things I heard as I told people I was moving to the District of Columbia. It was not all bad. Most of my friends and family were excited for me. My mentors were the people who told me “You need to be working in DC doing what you do on a National level.”
So, I packed my things and came to Washington, DC on a crisp cold Friday in November. I drove 6 hours from Charlotte, NC where I was living at the time. I had no job, no promise of a job but I had FAITH. I came to DC and I am so glad I did. Ten months prior to my arrival a vibrant, hopeful and dynamic man from Illinois announced his candidacy for President of The United States. It was amazing to be here during the 2008 Presidential Campaign.
Locally DC was embarking on serious change or as we from the inner city call it “Re-gentrification” defined as: The restoration and upgrading of deteriorated urban property by middle-class or affluent people, often resulting in displacement of lower-income people. There was a new mayor Adrian Fenty and a new DC Council member named Muriel Bowser who stepped into Fenty’s old position of Councilmember from Ward 4.
There were multiple changes in my life with a search for a position and the demise of the housing and financial markets. 2008 – 2011 was a busy time in the District. The new Mayor was having trouble with his second bid for the position and lost the 2011 DC Mayoral election. It was quite a dramatic election season, with two DC men fighting for the position and a city torn between the two. At the end Mayor Vincent Grey won. During his tenor there were several scandals and the DC Council lost three prominent leaders.
These leaders were arrested, tried and convicted for multiple offenses. A few siting Council members were punished by the Council for lesser offenses. The Council re-grouped and moved on. Then there was a scandal around the Mayor but with not enough evidence nothing happened.
With all of this going on in DC, a nasty mayoral election, council members going to prison I really felt right at home. Remember, I am from Newark, NJ where five of the last seven Mayors have all been convicted of crimes committed while in office. That would be all of them, except Cory Booker, since 1962.
But other things were changing around DC. The neighborhoods were thriving and people were involved with the development of those places. There were social gatherings that I joined and they truly made me feel part of a community. I have observed the District change so much in these short seven years. There are apartment buildings where there were parking lots. DC has stores that we had to travel to MD and VA to get to in 2007 like Target, Best Buy and Bed Bath and Beyond. The District has wonderful cultural and historical sites many of them are venues you can attend at no charge. Now we are embarking on yet another beginning that is a first.
We are the District of Columbia with three leaders of major departments are women. They are our Mayor – the Honorable Muriel Bowser, the Chief of Police Cathy Lanier and the Chancellor of DC Public Schools Kaya Henderson. It is an exciting time to be a DC resident!
In the next several months, while I embark on this challenge of one post a day, I will discuss why I LOVE living in Washington, DC. I also hope to write about the work of these magnificent women leaders. I am truly glad that I decided to come to DC and be a part of this place!
*Please leave comments, tell all and stay tuned!