On Monday, January 2, 2017, Councilmember Grosso was sworn-in to his second term on the Council of the District of Columbia. Below is his swearing-in address, as delivered:
Fellow D.C. residents, thank you all very much for being here today. I’m extremely humbled by the opportunity to serve the people of the District of Columbia for another four years on the D.C. Council. I want to thank my father-in-law, Dick Sippel, who swore me in today.
The right to freely choose our representatives, and thus the right to determine our own path and vision for our city, is not taken lightly by me or any of our residents – because it’s not too long ago that we remember we didn’t have that right.
The fact that voter turnout in the 2016 election was the highest in nearly two-and-a-half decades indicates that D.C. residents are more engaged in our democracy, in our governance, and in our quest for self-determination as the 51st State of the United States of America.
When I stood before you four years ago, we were in a very different position. Confidence in our local government was low and I vowed to help bring a new day to the District of Columbia, to engage our residents in our democracy, and to be transparent and ethical when exercising the duty of my office.
Today, the Council and indeed our city is in a better place than ever, and I will continue to fight for real change in D.C.
I am particularly proud of what we’ve done together.
We ensured that our children’s schools are funded according to need, not politics.
We lifted our workers’ wages and guaranteed they will not have to choose between taking care of their loved ones and paying their bills.
We have promoted the thriving arts and humanities communities and supported a creative economy that a world-class city such as ours deserves.
We have just begun reforming our criminal justice system in ways that center on treatment and prevention rather than solely on punishment.
And we’ve continued the upward trajectory of education reform. And in fact, the thing I’m most proud of accomplishing in the past four years is the passage of the ban on suspending or expelling three and four year olds in our schools. We have effectively in the District of Columbia eliminated the preschool to prison pipeline.
As chair of the Education Committee I want to especially thank and acknowledge the Mayor, Muriel Bowser for her selection of a new Chancellor. It’s going to help us lead the District of Columbia schools to a new place. Thank you Mayor Bowser.
I’m ready and willing to work together as we have done for the past two years since I’ve been the chair of the committee, to continue to address ways in which we can close the achievement gap, ensure appropriate wrap-around services, and put every student in the best position to succeed.
It is important to recognize that we enter this next Council Period under very different circumstances than the last time I stood before you.
The result of the national election reverberated in our city perhaps more than anywhere else in the nation. Many are scared and anxious as our future and the future of our laws are constantly at the whim of a Congress where we have no voting representation from our city, and many of its members have never set foot in our diverse neighborhoods.
How we educate our children, address the needs of our workers, promote the health of our residents, maintain the integrity of our families, and even secure our right to a democratic form of government are, at this moment, very uncertain.
In the days after the 2016 election, I was reminded of the spirit and tenacity of our residents. In protest, our students walked out their classrooms in droves. In solidarity, they marched downtown. With one voice, they declared that we will not be hostage to the hate and divisiveness of the incoming administration.
As the only true representatives of D.C. residents, we too must take up that call. As elected leaders, we must be willing to stand up and speak with one voice against every provocation and threat to our self-governance and the vision we have for our great city.
We must insist that the education of our children will be accountable to the people of the District of Columbia, not directed by those who disdain the value of public education.
We must declare that the War on Drugs was a grave injustice and continue our march toward criminal justice reform and the rolling back of policies that exacerbate racial inequities.
We must protect and respect the rights of women and girls and our LGBTQ community.
We must embrace that we are a sanctuary city and that we will protect families and communities from being torn apart by immigration policies rooted in fear and bigotry.
We must declare that we will not tolerate aggressions, guised in patriotism and security, against our Muslim brothers and sisters.
And we must, we must declare that we are the 51st state and demand full participation in our democratic institutions.
On these issues, on all of these issues there can be no compromise if we are to protect and expand the progress we have made in the District of Columbia.
Everything needed to achieve a shared vision of an even brighter future for our city – improving our schools, reforming our criminal justice system, providing more affordable housing, expanding economic opportunities, empowering individual voters over all the special interests, promoting the arts and humanities– all of this is rooted in a basic respect for the human rights.
Now is, in fact, the time to deepen our efforts to protect the human rights of all of our residents.
In that task, I am extremely grateful to be surrounded in my office by an amazing and talented team who work tirelessly to make this vision a reality. Their dedication to public service, and all of the staff in the Council building, is admirable and I would not have accomplished nearly as much as I did without them, and I can’t hope to even come close to achieving the agenda set for the next four years without such a great staff.
But most of all, I want to thank the people of the District of Columbia. I want to thank all of you. Thank you for placing your trust in me and for the opportunity to serve as an At-Large Councilmember for another four years.
Protecting our human rights cannot be done alone. It must be the charge of all of our elected leaders and all of our residents. We must fight for each other. We must work for the most vulnerable among us. We must lift each other up. And we must love one another.
Thank you very much.