News & Politics

How Will the Obama Presidency Affect the Washington Area?

We asked Washingtonians across the spectrum—from an environmental activist to a jazz singer—what impact Obama might have on our city. Read on for their answers, and tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Dan Weiss, environmental activist 

President-elect Obama will bring a neo-soul vibe after eight years of bland country-and-western twang under President Bush.

The new First Family will reinvigorate the non-government part of Washington. With two elementary-age children, the family is likely to be out and about, doing things like playing soccer, going to Imagination Stage, and attending summer camp. Like many Washington girls, my fifth- and sixth-grade daughters hope they can meet Malia and Sasha. And every adult basketball league hopes that the President-elect will join them.

Sharón Clark, jazz singer

I’m absolutely thrilled! Just think, there will finally be some cornrows in the White House.

My biggest hope is that this new administration can find a way for self-employed people like musicians and artists to find good, affordable healthcare for themselves and their families. All the great jazz players in DC either have no health insurance or have to get a day job just for the benefits, which makes pursuing your performance career even more challenging.

Phil Chenier, Washington Wizards analyst and former Bullets player

Based on his expressed love of the game, Steve Buckhantz and I are expecting to see the President attend at least a few Wizards games—and not just when the Bulls come to town. Who knows—he may need someone to help him with his jump shot.

I appreciate the balance he seems to have in life—family, a diverse set of friends, and life experiences along with a commitment to work and serve. His calm and patient demeanor is comforting. In a recent interview, I heard him and Michelle speak about being involved in the DC area, and I think they will bring a warm and engaging spirit to the area.

Bill Hanbury, Destination DC

I think all of the excitement and energy that has been parading over this campaign is going to be transferred here. There’s been an unprecedented display of American democracy and citizenship, and I think people are going to want to continue the excitement. When they do, we are going to be the place where that happens.

We already have a very good position in the international tourism marketplace, and we think it’s going to improve even more as people come to experience the center of American democracy. I’ll put our stuff up against London, Berlin, Paris, or Rome.

Lee Jackson, Child and Family Network Centers, Alexandria

Outside of having a president who consistently advocated for universal healthcare, it’s great to know that the kids we serve feel they can relate to President Obama and feel he can relate to them.

We try to educate our kids and their families that they can do anything if given a chance, but to have a role model in the highest office as evidence proves we’re not just feeding them a fairy tale.

Neil Kerwin, president, American University

There’s no question that we’re at a historic moment for the city and the entire world. The Obama campaign has reached younger people in a way that’s unprecedented in my lifetime. The attention it has brought to Washington as an agent for change is unprecedented in that age group.

If the momentum can be maintained, Washington-based universities will enjoy increased popularity from students across the country and around the world. It’s a global phenomenon. It’s difficult to find an analog in history to it.
The other message is that public service will be a priority: volunteerism and careers in government. People looking to careers in government will look to AU and other Washington universities.

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