Vince Gray was sworn in as D.C.'s sixth elected mayor Sunday, pledging to overcome the city's ongoing budget crisis and high unemployment by uniting residents who are deeply divided along economic and racial lines. "Today, we begin a new chapter in the history of our city, one defined by a sense of common purpose, shared sacrifice and communities united," Gray said. "A chapter written not by a single author, but with the pens of 600,000 residents from all eight wards and all walks of life, committed to a vision of one city, our city."
|» Born: Nov. 8, 1942|
|» Experience: D.C. Association for Retarded Citizens (1966-1991); director, D.C. Department of Human Services (1991-94); executive director, Covenant House (1995-2005); D.C. Council member, Ward 7 (2005-07); council chairman, (2007-2010)|
|» Education: B.A., psychology, George Washington University|
|» Family: Married Lorretta Gray (died 1998); daughter Jonice Gray Tucker; son, Vincent Carlos Gray|
|Voices in the crowd|
|"I would give Fenty a D-plus. Gray has the exact opposite personality. Residents should be excited." -- Ward 5 resident Calvin Butler, who was a Gray campaign volunteer|
|"We won't know for a while if Gray will be effective or not." The inauguration "is just a spectacle. If [Gray] puts the same people in power and operates the same way, we won't see progress." -- Ward 4 resident Joseph Curtis|
Gray takes over at a much different point in city history than outgoing Mayor Adrian Fenty. Where Fenty entered office at a time of economic prosperity, Gray enters amid the worst economic decline since the Great Depression. Gray said on Sunday that he'll immediately start hammering out the details of how to fix a $480 million budget gap in the next fiscal year. Where Fenty pledged not to raise taxes, Gray said on Sunday during a news conference following his swearing-in that he'll consider a tax increase to help fix the shortfall.
Gray's administration will also likely differ greatly in both tone and style than Fenty's. Gray has been preaching collaboration and inclusiveness since he battled Fenty during the Democratic primary race. On the campaign trail, Gray's "One City" message helped set Gray apart from Fenty, who had come under heavy criticism for a go-it-alone attitude that left many residents feeling as though they had been shut out of the process. Now, as Gray's administration takes over, the "One City" message has evolved beyond unity and into a John F. Kennedy-esque vision of residents joining together to face the District's fiscal obstacles and achieve its quest for statehood.
"Now is the time for all District residents to make the sacrifices needed to weather the storm we face, and to ask not what your city can do for you, but what you can do for your city," Gray said during his inaugural address.
The city's new mayor also appears to have much of the D.C. Council at his side. Fenty started his tenure that way, too, but where Fenty was quickly attacked for not including council members in his decisions, Gray is widely expected to be on good terms with the legislative branch as the first council chairman to rise to mayor in District history.
Gray's ability to get along with the council was on display Sunday as six council members and the council chairman were sworn into office, almost all of whom noted that collaboration was key to moving the city forward.
"Success is something that multiplies when you work together," D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown said. He later added, "We have to break the habit of expecting something for nothing from our government, from each other. We must all take more responsibility for our city."
On Sunday night, Gray gathered city residents together for an inauguration party at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. More than 11,000 tickets were given out, and thousands attended the black-tie gala in the convention center's massive basement ballroom. They dined on pasta, cheese and pastries, and purchased drinks at cash bars.
But most who arrived couldn't get to the tables nearest the stage where bands entertained the crowd. That area was marked by red velvet rope, and made available only to attendees with VIP tickets. As one reveler put it, "Our new mayor talks of 'One City,' but there's two parties here tonight."
Staff Writer Brian Hughes contributed to this report. email@example.com