Attorney General Eric Holder joined officials from the District of Columbia and surrounding communities on Sunday as Vincent C. Gray was sworn in as the mayor of Washington, a city that remains deeply divided by ethnic and economic differences.
Holder, who said shortly after the September Democratic mayoral primary that he voted for Gray over then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, was in the throng who heard Gray emphasize unity in his inaugural speech at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. “There is far more that brings us together than there is that drives us apart,” Gray said, according to the Washington Post.
Gray, a 68-year-old widower, is a former City Council chairman. Despite his optimistic tone about unity, the fact remains that the mayoral primary underlined the divisions in the city, many of whose residents in prosperous Northwest embraced Fenty over Gray, who has been regarded as a more traditional politician and picked up more support in other sections of the city.
One theme that Gray touched upon is indisputable: Washington, like many big cities, faces big problems in trying to find the money to deliver services and improve its public schools. (Perhaps ironically, overhauling the city schools was a major priority of Fenty, one that earned him the enmity of some teachers and school administrators and may have contributed to his defeat.)
Holder swore in Kwame Brown as D.C. Council chairman on Sunday. Gray was sworn in by Chief Judge Eric Washington of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Holder previously met with Gray in September for a closed-door discussion on how the Justice Department and Obama administration can work with the mayor on areas of mutual interest.
Fenty’s predecessor as mayor, Anthony Williams, offered Gray encouragement, along with a touch of realism. “This is the high point here; you never have more political capital,” Williams said. “It’s all downhill from here.”