WASHINGTON — Muriel Bowser's win in the District of Columbia mayor's race has put the District in exclusive company: cities in which women serve in the positions of mayor, police chief and schools chancellor.
While not unusual for the District — women have served in each of the positions before — it is the first time three of them have served in the jobs simultaneously and is a phenomenon only seen nationally in the smaller cities of Minneapolis and Santa Monica, California.
Bowser's win on Tuesday was secured with 54.7 percent of the vote in the city's mayoral race to defeat independent David A. Catania, who won 34.4 percent and Carol Schwartz, who earned 7.2 percent.
The Democratic mayor-elect on Wednesday said she was "humbled and grateful" for the win and that she was "appreciative of the clear mandate" given to her by voters.
On the campaign trail, Bowser pledged to keep two top female leaders in place: Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson.
Jack Evans, the District's longest serving D.C. Council member, applauded Bowser's win on Tuesday night, but shook off the notion that having women in the District's top posts was anything unusual.
"We've always had women in very important positions in the city," said Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, noting Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city's longtime nonvoting congressional representative, and the city's first female mayor, Sharon Pratt. "We really led the way because even when the first councils were here, we had the majority of women on those councils. It's always been a very progressive jurisdiction in that regard, more so than most."
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said he had recently remarked on the fact that fewer women were serving on the D.C. Council than in the recent past. Taking the results from Tuesday's election into account, five of the 13 seats on the D.C. Council will be filled by women with Bowser's Ward 4 seat up for grabs.
"It ebbs and flows," Mendelson said.
But the gender breakdown of the top-level posts sticks out when compared to who holds the positions across the country. While a 2010 study by the American Association of School Administrators found that nearly one in four school superintendents was a woman, a January survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that only 18 percent of the 1,351 mayors of U.S. cities with populations over 30,000 were women. And the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives reported last year that women held the position of chief in 169 out of 1,552 law enforcement agencies surveyed.
That three women should be serving in the high-level posts simultaneously is attributable to Bowser's election — Lanier was appointed in 2006 and Henderson took over from another female chancellor, Michelle A. Rhee, in 2011.
Information from: The Washington Times, http://www.washtimes.com