Kwame R. Brown was sworn in Sunday as the seventh chairman of the D.C. Council, vowing to work closely with Mayor Vincent C. Gray while also providing "robust oversight" of the administration.
Brown, a former at-large council member, was joined by his wife, Marcia, and two children when he was administered the oath.
In his inaugural address at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Brown pledged to have an ongoing dialogue with District residents to balance the budget, continue education reform, and create more jobs.
"In this era of doublespeak, empty rhetoric and grand promises that cannot be kept, I pledge to speak to you with candor, clarity and frank honesty concerning the issues we face," said Brown, who was sworn in by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Brown's swearing-in caps a swift rise for an ambitious politician who grew up in the District and graduated from Wilson High School in Northwest.
The son of a longtime local political consultant, Marshall Brown, Kwame Brown was first elected to the council in 2004. After easily being reelected in 2008, Brown ran for chairman against former Council member Vincent Orange. Brown won the race by about 10 percentage points.
Brown, who lives in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Ward 7, has built his political career around a populist message of fighting for more jobs and opportunity for the city's disadvantaged.
"The District of Columbia should aspire to be nothing but the very best -- a world-class city," Brown said during his address.
Brown pledged he would work with Gray to close an estimated $440 million budget shortfall next year, but added that he preferred the council shy away from a major tax increase. Brown also pledged to "hasten the pace" of school reform but do it with more parental involvement.
"We should and shall move forward with more energy and desire than ever before in creating a world-class school system by any means necessary," said Brown, who as chairman will oversee education issues. "Never again should we allow the hopes of getting accepted to UDC, Georgetown or Howard be stolen from DCPS students before they reach the ninth grade because we allowed middle schools to fail them and steal their potential."
Brown, widely believed to be a future candidate for mayor, has had a close working relationship with Gray on the council. With both now ascending to new jobs, many believe Brown and Gray will put an end to the feuding that took place been the council and mayor during former mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration.
But Brown warned during his speech that the council will be keeping close tabs on Gray.
"I must be clear, the Council will do its part," Brown said.