In April, the D.C. Council’s judiciary committee cut $6 million from Bowser’s $30 million budget proposal to hire more officers, targeting incentives Bowser claimed were vital to attract good candidates. The committee, on which neither of her challengers serves, did approve a $20,000 hiring bonus to help recruit more police officers, something Bowser announced a few days before the primary.
“I’ve never been to a community where they said they didn’t want the police. Never,” Bowser said in a radio debate last month. “We need the police that we need.”
In the summer of 2020, following mass protests over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Bowser publicly feuded with then-President Donald Trump after racial justice protesters were forcibly cleared from an area near the White House. Bowser responded by renaming the protest epicenter Black Lives Matter Plaza and commissioning a mural with “Black Lives Matter” painted on a stretch of 16th Street, one block from the White House, in giant yellow letters.
Bowser, 49, campaigned on her experience and leadership and her history as one of the faces of Washington's ongoing quest for statehood. She also received good marks for her handling of the pandemic, generally operating in coordination with the D.C. Council.
Robert White, 40, had a history of successful insurgent campaigns, having unseated an entrenched incumbent for an at-large Council seat in 2016. He proposed tackling crime through a massive public and private youth jobs program that Bowser derided as unsustainable.
Trayon White, 38, invoked the spirit of Barry, the late mayor and council member who remains a controversial but beloved figure among many Washingtonians. A former grassroots community activist, White was a protégé of Barry’s and opposed Bowser’s bids to hire more police officers. He favors community violence intervention programs, something he says Bowser was slow to embrace.