MAYOR ANTHONY WILLIAMS' SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS
"ONE CITY, ONE FUTURE"
January 2, 2003
Judge King, Chairman Cropp, Council members, Secretary Martinez, the Diplomatic community,
ANC Commissioners, distinguished guests, citizens of the District of Columbia, friends and
family. I am honored by your presence here today.
First, let me thank our Youth Mayor, Michael Clark, for his kind words of introduction. It would
not surprise me to be here one day to see Michael take an oath to serve the citizens of our city. In
his face, and in the faces of the students here with us from Eastern and Ballou, I see our next
leaders and that gives me great hope for our future.
Thank you for singing, Mom. With your indomitable spirit, you encourage all of us to "Lift Every
Voice and Sing". Diane and Asantewa, thank you for your love, patience and unending support. I
draw great strength from both of you.
Rev. Dr. Alvin Jackson, thank you for reminding us that it is Gods will we carry out here. As the
Bible says, "whosoever of you will be the chief shall be the servant of all". As the Mayor of this
great city, I stand here today not only as your chief, but as your servant, a servant of all.
Mayors Washington, Barry and Pratt, I am grateful that you have joined us today. Few mayors
are blessed to have ALL the former Mayors as advisors, together they have guided the District
through difficult times in our struggle for full self-government. Im deeply grateful for your
counsel, your wisdom and your unending love for the people of our great city.
And I am honored to join with our warrior on the Hill, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton,
to carry on the fight for full voting rights, full self-determination for our people.
I'd like to thank John Koskinen and my Cabinet for all you do to make this government work for
all of us. I hope you are ready, because Im "raising the bar. The citizens have great expectations
of you, and so do I.
As I stood before you four years ago, I was filled with ideas and ideals, eager to get started, and
yes, perhaps a bit green in foreseeing all the challenges awaiting us. However, over the past four
years, we began confronting those challenges, together as a community. I promised to make the
government work for all; to go from "I don't know" to "I'll find out". We put our "bodies and
souls in motion" for change. We came together, we worked together and we achieved together.
More than 11,500 children now have a safe place to go after school in their neighborhood because
90 community organizations opened their doors. More than 10,000 citizens participated in our
Citizen Summits and our Neighborhood Action initiative. We resurfaced more than 2,000 blocks
in every corner of the District, answered more than 750,000 telephone calls a year, welcomed new
retailers to long neglected neighborhoods, and balanced our budget every year, even at a time
when other cities and states have gone into staggering deficits. And on September 11and during
the dark months that followed, we showed the world what it means to be the capital of our
I stand here today, a wiser man, learning as much from the mistakes of the past four years as from
our successes. I bring an awareness of our fragile economy, both here and nationally; a deeper
understanding of the needs and challenges we must meet, a personal commitment to the highest
standards of excellence and ethics; and an even greater respect for the voice of the
The voice of the people, nothing is more crucial in a democracy than the dialogue that occurs
among citizens, the private sector, civic organizations, faith communities, the media, and
government. In this dialogue, we articulate our hopes and dreams, our worries and aspirations as
a people. These past four years, I have been privileged to participate in this dialogue through two
campaigns, during our summits, testifying before Council and Congress, in churches, at senior
centers, schools, libraries, and on the streets of every one of our neighborhoods. Sometimes the
voices are raised in anger, sometimes muted by grief, but always, always heard. It is the voices of
the people who live in our city, attend our schools, volunteer in our churches, and watch over our
neighborhoods that have had the most profound effect on me. These are the people who guide
me--inspire me. People like Sabrina Snell at School Without Walls who is reaching for the stars as
she pursues her dream of becoming an astronomer. People like Brenda Hall in Washington
Highlands, who is about to start her career after getting the job training she needed to enter the
job market. And people like Buddy Moore in Parkview who is proving that citizens can play a
critical role in stopping crime before it starts.
I admire their courage and I respect the insight they provide on the work ahead. From my
conversations with citizens like these, and with many of you, three themes stand out, three
priorities that must guide us over the next four years: education, opportunity, and public
The first theme I've heard again and again is that we must educate our children; they are our
pride, our hope, and our future.
The pride of our city is Eladdieyo Robinson, a senior at Anacostia High School who will be the
first in his family to attend college when he begins at Morehouse this fall. The hope of our city is
Ayanna Reed, a seventh-grader at Bertie Backus Middle School, whose love of singing is at the
heart of her commitment to excellence. And the future of the city is Harry Stein at Wilson, who
scored a perfect 1600 on the SATs.
We care about these children and their future. They are why I am going to keep fighting to fix our
schools and make sure all our children have all they need to reach their full potential textbooks,
technology and teachers.
We will increase our efforts to help attract and retain excellent teachers by offering competitive
salaries and incentives such as our homeownership assistance. We will do all we can to make sure
they have the tools they need to teach our children, and we will work closely with the Board of
Education to establish clear expectations of accountability for teachers and principals.
And there is something else we must do. We must strengthen the connection between
neighborhoods and schools. Our schools should be beacons of hope, providing families access to
a range of services, from child care to health care, from mentoring programs to job training. My
vision is a simple one, our schools must send a clear and powerful message to children: we care
about you and we will not let you fail.
As Mayor, I have a moral obligation to all our children, wherever they attend school, an
obligation I take very seriously. I will serve as an advocate for the parents and grandparents of
this city, joining them in all they do to teach our children. Because it will take all of us together to
make sure that every child--every child--starts school ready to learn, enters third grade proficient
in reading, and begins 7th grade able to excel in math. This commitment to educating our kids is
the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Our future demands no less.
The second theme that emerged from the people so powerfully is that we must expand
opportunity for all. This is particularly important as we take a good hard look at the national
economy. For the past two years, cities, counties, and states across the nation have been hit hard
by our stagnant economy. Let me be candid, we are facing tough fiscal times, and it may get
worse before it gets better. That is why now more than ever we need to make sure that every
resident has the tools they need to participate fully in our economy.
It is not acceptable for one in five of our residents to live in poverty. It is not our destiny to be a
city of rich and poor. That is why I will dedicate much of my energy and resources over the next
four years to opening doors of opportunity for everyone in this city. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
envisioned the day when we would all realize the American dream, "A dream of equality of
opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed. To live Dr. King's dream here in the
District, we must provide clear pathways of opportunity in jobs, health care, and
Let us start by helping to connect District residents with jobs -- good jobs that enable a man or
woman to climb the ladder of success, to move up and out of poverty. There are good jobs
available in our city--in technology, the building trades, even with the federal government--and
more are on the way. The challenge is to make sure our residents have the skills and training to
succeed in these jobs. That means preparing young people to enter the work force. That means
working with unions and trade associations to provide effective apprenticeship and vocational
training. That means starting a "Job Opportunity Bank" that helps to train residents for jobs with
employers that receive financial support from the District government.
But most of all it means getting serious about literacy. Almost 37 percent of the adults in this city
read only at a third grade level. My friends, this is a human tragedy. It is not acceptable that 4 out
of 10 residents cannot complete a job application or advance beyond an entry-level position.
Whether working to obtain a GED, or learning English for the first time, every adult in this city
has the right to learn to read. Today, I pledge to find the funding that will allow us to establish a
team of 20 full-time "literacy leaders" from other career paths, help them become certified to
teach adults, and send them to serve in neighborhood-based organizations. I challenge our
universities and I challenge the private sector to join me in this pledge: match my funding
commitment. If we do that, over the next four years, we can build a team of 60 literacy leaders
dedicated to teaching adults to read and write. As a community, we can move the District from
one of the lowest literacy rates in the nation to one of the highest by the end of this decade. As
Nelson Mandela taught us: "Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to
change the world."
In addition to increasing education opportunities for our people, we must strengthen the District's
primary health care system. By providing a "medical home" in our neighborhoods to uninsured
adults, working poor residents and all children, we can combat the diseases that plague our
residents: diabetes, hypertension, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS. We have made progress, but
we cannot rest, not when our infant mortality rate remains so alarmingly high. And certainly not
when the life expectancy of an African American man in this city is 57 years old.
Nothing opens the door to opportunity like the door to a decent home. We have significantly
increased the amount of housing over the past four years, and Im proud of that accomplishment.
But the need for affordable housing is great. Over the next four years, we will focus our housing
efforts in three critical areas: housing for homeless and very poor people, affordable housing for
working poor families, and home ownership for low-to-moderate-income people. In the District,
as well as in other cities, the tide of men, women, and children living on our streets is rising as the
economy falls. While we are adding more and more beds in our existing shelters, we are just
keeping pace with this growing demand. The District must increase its capacity to provide
permanent supportive housing, which will begin to address the underlying issues that lead to
The next priority for me in our comprehensive housing strategy is increasing the availability of
affordable homes for working poor residents. Many men and women, struggling to support a
family on minimum wages, live one emergency away from disaster. For them, an affordable home
brings financial stability to the whole family. If we are committed to "opportunity for all," it must
include good housing. Our city is fortunate to have a reliable partner at the Department of
Housing and Urban Development, Secretary Mel Martinez. Together we are building thousands
of homes and apartments for poor families, seniors, and people with special needs. Together we
will build thousands more over the next four years. I know we can count on you and your boss,
Lastly, we need to recognize that home ownership is the key pathway to economic stability and a
life in the economic mainstream. It is essential to building strong neighborhoods. We will put out
the welcome sign in every neighborhood, every neighborhood of this city. We will encourage
teachers, firefighters, nurses, police officers, computer technicians, carpenters, and thousands of
others to put down roots in our community. To build equity in a home that can be passed down
from one generation to the next. We will ask our largest employers to follow the example of
Howard University and provide home ownership assistance for employees.
Expanding home ownership is critical if we are to expand our tax base, which we must do if we
are to continue building the affordable housing and providing services the services our people
need most. Through a range of home ownership efforts, including attracting market rate housing,
we can develop at least 15,000 new homes as part of our goal to bring 100,000 residents to the
city within 10 years. We must lure back residents who fled the city in the past, but not at the
expense of those who today call the District home. We can do this. We will do this.
The third thing that people have said again and again is that crime in our nation's capital is still
too high. Public safety must be a lynchpin of any strategy to improve the neighborhoods we love
so much. People wont buy homes if they don't feel safe on our neighborhood streets. They won't
send their kids to after-school programs if they worry they wont come home safely. New
businesses will not move to our commercial corridors if they fear customers will be scared away
There is no better way to get in touch with the public safety concerns of our citizens than to spend
some time with the dedicated men and women who wear Orange Hats. People like Minnie Green
in Petworth, Vince Micone in Dupont Circle, and Loree Murray in Near Northeast. These people
know every abandoned car, every empty house, every broken street light. They are our partners--
an "early warning" network--helping to fight crime in our neighborhoods. To all of those who
participate in neighborhood watches, wear Orange hat and Red hats, attend Patrol Service Area
meetings, volunteer in the reserve corps, I pledge my commitment to put even more police
officers into our neighborhoods. I've heard how important it is for you to build a strong, working
relationship with the commanders and officers that serve your community. I will be your partner
as we work to make our neighborhoods safe.
Over the next four years, we will continue our progress in bringing the crime rate down in the
District and bringing it down in our neighborhoods. And that starts with lowering the murder rate.
This years increase is not acceptable. I am not willing to sacrifice one more young person to
senseless violence; one more young man to the criminal justice system. Our faith leaders, parents
and police officers working together are beginning to make progress in some neighborhoods. We
must build on this work. And we must make certain that when someone is killed, that our police
force has the capacity to investigate swiftly and thoroughly with the sense of urgency we expect.
We owe the victims family and our community the peace of mind that comes from knowing that a
murderer is off the street.
We must also support our concerned parents who fight to keep their kids safe from drugs but are
forced to turn over control of their neighborhoods to drug dealers. We will never get drug dealers
off our streets until we make substantial progress in shutting down the demand for illegal drugs.
Drug and alcohol abuse are devastating the lives of our people and jeopardizing the safety of too
many of our communities. Just ask Sam Foster from Congress Heights. He'll tell you--as he did
me--that we must increase access to affordable, effective drug treatment programs for our
residents. Because for many, access to treatment can make the difference between a life addicted
and a life lived freely. Even when funding is tight, this is money well spent.
But despite everything we do to make our city safer, we may never feel completely safe again.
That is the legacy of September 11th. We have experienced the pain and fear of terrorism. We
know that as the nation's capital we must be fully prepared for more attacks. This is an awesome
responsibility for any mayor--for this mayor. But I vow this city will be prepared if, God forbid,
we come under attack again. We have accomplished much to strengthen coordination and
communication with federal, regional, and local governments, the private sector, service
providers, and most importantly our citizens. We will do all that we can to keep our city open and
safe for our residents and visitors.
And, yes, there is one more commitment I must make to you today. In our efforts to provide a
government on which you can depend, we will continue to aggressively pursue those in
government who defraud the taxpayers and betray the public trust. You may--in fact, will--hear
about government waste, fraud and abuse over the next four years. You will hear it because I will
not tolerate it in my administration. Those who steal will get caught and prosecuted to the fullest
extent of our laws. I have put in place the highest standards for ethics and performance because
that is what it takes to maintain the public trust, your trust. You can count on me for that.
Three messages, three values, three themes. The voice of the people. The wisdom of our elders.
Three priorities for the next four years: educate our children, expand opportunity for all, and keep
our neighborhoods safe. These are important ideals, critical to achieving our vision for the
District. A city that is financially stable because we expanded our economy and negotiated a fair
and equitable annual federal contribution. A city where every neighborhood has been touched by
its resurgence, with restaurants along Georgia Avenue, shopping in Columbia Heights, and small
businesses flourishing in every neighborhood. A city where the Anacostia River is the true asset it
should be, surrounded by thriving and prosperous neighborhoods. A city dedicated to learning. A
city that provides timely, reliable and cost-effective services even when it snows.
Standing here today, I see before me the face of Washington. We are a magnificent tapestry made
up of many peoples. It is the community we build from that diversity that makes us strong and
proud. Today, we have the chance to live up to Dr. King's great dream of inclusiveness, of true
democracy, of opportunity for all. Let today be a clarion call that brings together everyone to
create a city of learning, a beacon of hope that shines for all the world. One City. One