Retrospective on the Accomplishments of DC Mayor Williams’ Two Terms and Challenges for the New Mayor and City Council Leaders

Alice M. Rivlin
Alice Rivlin
Alice M. Rivlin Former Brookings Expert

July 18, 2006

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I am delighted that you are holding this hearing on the major accomplishments of the District government over the last seven years and the significant challenges that lie ahead. I have had the opportunity to observe dramatic positive changes in the District of Columbia since January 1999. I share the view of many long term residents that the city has emerged from the depths of despair into which it fell in the mid-1990s and is facing an increasingly hopeful future. The city’s fiscal situation has improved dramatically. Its government is far better managed and systems are in place and coming on line that will assist future managers. Services have improved in many departments—although by no means all. Thousands of units of housing are being constructed and renovated, new stores are opening and older ones expanding. Neighborhoods are showing new signs of life all over the city.

But major challenges remain, as they do in other central cities. We are still a city strikingly divided by race and income. Our education system is still far from delivering quality education for all children. The housing boom is creating hardship for low and moderate income people. Health outcomes for many city residents are poor. Meeting these challenges will test the effectiveness of the city’s elected leadership in the years ahead.

The federal government should also be a partner in meeting these challenges. It should share the responsibility for ensuring that the Nation’s capital has a sound fiscal base, modern infrastructure, and a voice in the Nation’s democratic process.