Asking residents and city employees to join in "putting our bodies and souls in motion for change," Mayor Anthony A. Williams last night outlined six broad goals at the core of his vision for Washington.
Williams (D) told a crowd of about 1,000 at the Washington Convention Center that his priorities are investing in children and youth, strengthening families, building and sustaining healthy neighborhoods, expanding economic opportunities, making government work and developing a "unity of purpose" for residents and the government.
The mayor has been publicly enthusiastic about many of those topics since he delivered his inauguration speech in January, but last night he offered some new, concrete proposals. He called for six "parent centers" in neighborhoods where families could learn child-raising skills. He promised that seven "one-stop career centers" would open in neighborhoods in January. And he announced the summer youth jobs program would be extended to operate year-round.
Williams also reaffirmed his commitment to citywide health care, saying, "I will not rest until every child in this city is covered by health insurance . . . including the children of undocumented immigrants." And he repeated his pledge that the city would create after-school enrichment programs for every child in the city.
The occasion for the 30-minute address was a "citizens summit" to launch the mayor's Neighborhood Action program, designed to mobilize residents. The summit will continue most of Saturday at the Convention Center, where Williams said 1,500 people have registered to attend.
Before the speech last night, the assembled crowd was invited to eat roast beef and drink beer and wine, courtesy of several foundations and corporations underwriting the summit.
Williams did not specify how much his initiatives would cost, but he said the purpose of the summit is for residents to begin thinking big about what should be done to improve the city and how it might be accomplished. Citizen comment at the summit will influence future government action, Williams promised.
"Let's every single one of us sit down and decide what our government can do together," he said.