“You know about the handshake, right?” Mayor Michael Nutter says on the latest episode of our acclaimed podcast, How to Really Run a City. “You gotta get up in that web … you gotta own the handshake.” Mayor Kasim Reed agrees, saying that Nutter once also taught him an ancillary move: one hand on the shoulder while the other clasps the hand.
Between lots of laughs, these former two-term mayors not only share inside tips like the anatomy of the mayoral handshake. They also compare notes on how to lead with swagger, and on the mentors who convinced them they really could lead their respective cities.
Mayor Bowser joins the conversation
When the mayors welcome current third-term D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the talk turns to more constitutional matters. Remember in middle school, when you first learned about “no taxation without representation?” Well, it’s easy to forget sometimes that folks living in Washington, D.C., still experience a version of that same inequality: They are citizens of the U.S.; they pay some of the highest per-capita taxes in the nation, yet — because Washington is not a state — they don’t have any representation in Congress. (That could be remedied with pretty straightforward legislation by Congress, but politics-as-usual has kept that from happening.)
Bowser essentially governs a city, county and state government, overseeing a $20 billion budget. She shares the highs and lows of that arrangement, and her secret to staying energized through three Presidents (Obama, Trump, Biden), Covid, the response to the murder of George Floyd and countless other incidents of police brutality, the January 6th upheaval, and more.
Bowser’s superpower, she says, is prioritizing her administration’s agenda — providing a pathway to the middle class, whether that’s forgiving $90 million in medical debt among D.C. residents, boosting home ownership rates, or mitigating against the ravages of gentrification.
Listen to the whole conversation here or wherever you get your podcasts. Then be sure to tell us what questions you have for the co-hosts of our show, former Philly Mayor Michael Nutter, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and Citizen co-founder Larry Platt. We’ll look forward to hearing from you!
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