March 16, 2014

THE CAMPAIGN for mayor in the D.C. Democratic primary is entering its final weeks with the start of early voting today on Monday. It has been an unusual year marked by an altered election calendar, a crowded and eclectic field and, most of all, uncertainty caused by a federal investigation into the city’s last mayoral race. We hope that the pundits who are predicting a low turnout are wrong, because this is a critical election in which voters will be deciding who is best equipped to lead the District for the next four years.

We believe D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) to be that person. That’s not to discount the valuable experience of council member Jack Evans (Ward 2) or the commitment to ethical government of Tommy Wells (Ward 6). Nor do we overlook the accomplishments, particularly in school reform, of Mayor Vincent C. Gray in his more than three years as mayor.

The sad events of the past week — federal prosecutors allege that Mr. Gray was involved in and knew about the illegal “shadow campaign” that helped elect him in 2010 — reinforce our view that he, despite his denials of wrongdoing, would be a poor choice. Even the version of this sordid history that he would have voters believe strikes us as disqualifying, as it includes ignorance of the felonies committed by his close friends and associates and a willingness to operate in secrecy with a major donor who was also a major city contractor.

Ms. Bowser promises a fresh start if elected. She brings seven years of solid service on the D.C. Council, preceded by government work in Montgomery County. She is committed to good government, as evidenced by how she persuaded the council to adopt the legislative reforms that created the city’s board of ethics. She is thoughtful about issues and willing to admit when she’s made a mistake. We have been impressed with how she has grown in office and by the professionalism of her campaign.

Ms. Bowser also has a strategy to move the city forward by investing in schools, job training and infrastructure. Better than anyone else in this race, she has articulated an agenda that promotes continued economic growth but doesn’t ignore the challenges and inequities that growth can bring. We urge voters to nominate her on April 1.