I hope you and yours are having a very happy holiday season and a peaceful and restful end to the year. Instead of my usual newsletter, I'm writing with a few reflections on the past year and to share some of my priorities for the Ward and District in the year to come.
2023 has been quite year, and together, we've navigated many challenges and successes. Through it all, I've been so grateful to represent and work with neighbors who are passionately invested in our neighborhoods. As a community, we've come together to try to solve problems big and small, from the District's urgent need for a whole-of-government, strategic, and measurable response to public safety and gun violence, to making it easier for our small and local businesses to thrive, to sustaining and improving our transit system, and to the host of challenges our team handles each day on your block.
Even though it often felt like daily life was returning to normal this year, the pandemic fundamentally changed the District and Ward 6. Telework has impacted downtown and our finances significantly, which, in turn, impacts every city service and program. The trauma of isolation and loss from the worst days of the pandemic has hit many of our children incredibly hard and continues to play out, sometimes with dire consequences. And this year, many of the social safety net programs and COVID-era protections meant to help folks weather the pandemic, like the eviction moratorium, student loan pauses, and expanded benefits, have expired or run out. It may seem like years ago for some of us, but for others, the impact is still very real.
Despite these challenges, there's so much that gives me hope for 2024. This year, my team and I focused on public safety solutions through legislation and oversight at the Wilson Building and more than 30 community safety walks and meetings across the Ward. This must continue to be our top priority in the new year, because the status quo is unacceptable. We also celebrated the power of community and our beloved institutions. The 150th anniversary of Eastern Market was just one such moment, and I think the sheer longevity of the Market can give us perspective. Eastern Market has been through good and bad times, just like we have, and it only exists because of resilient business owners taking a chance, customers continuing to gather and shop there to keep it alive, and by organizations like Eastern Market Main Street and neighbors investing time and resources. Marking that moment - in the midst of all our challenges - reminded me that community doesn't just happen; it's built, and there are people all around us filled with energy to make our neighborhoods strong and vibrant.
Looking forward, we head into 2024 with plenty of work - and also opportunities - ahead of us:
- We'll launch major investments in our community across Ward 6, including what will be an incredible new Southeast Library and several school, recreation center, and park modernizations.
- I'm also beyond thrilled by the overwhelming response to my last newsletter from neighbors ready to get involved in an effort I'm launching in January to uplift our H Street NE corridor throughout the year.
- Despite the financial challenges looming for WMATA's future, we have an opportunity to place the system on firm footing, which will be a major priority you'll see me continue to lead on.
- This next year will need all of us to demand that the District and federal governments make tangible progress on improving public safety, embracing a "both/and" - instead of an "either/or" - approach that's collaborative and delivers results, not rhetoric.
- At the Council, we'll be advancing legislation to hasten our transition to a clean, electric future in our homes and on our roads with electric vehicles (and we can look forward to an e-bike rebate launching), plus major reforms on street safety and accountability for dangerous driving. You'll also see me continue to stand up for the local businesses that make our Ward the best place to call home.
- We also have to tackle our downtown's future head-on to ensure it's the vibrant and innovative heart of the Nation's Capital we know it can be, notwithstanding recent news.
Make no mistake; these are big challenges. But I know we'll rise to meet them together with bold, creative, and practical solutions to build a Ward 6 and District we're all proud to call home.
Happy holidays and New Year, and looking forward to seeing you in the Ward,