Mayor Brenda Davis took office as Mayor of the City of Washington, PA in 2011. A member of the Democratic Party, Davis came to office with the promise to impact change and bring development – reduce crime and increase economic growth – through hard work and bi-partisanship in what she describes as a fledgling Washington. After 4 years in office, she believes she has left Washington in a better state than when she first started. Her successor, Republican Scott Putnam, will take office next year.
During my interview with Mayor Davis, she outlined her job responsibility in three major components. As head of the Washington Department of Public Affairs, Mayor Davis is responsible for overseeing the Police Department, the city Parking Authority and the Department of Public Safety. In the Washington Police Department, the Police Chief directly reports to the mayor on a daily basis and the mayor has final say in all administrative decisions. With regards to the Parking Authority, which is responsible for managing parking and related traffic management programs on the streets of Washington, Mayor Davis works closely with the City Council (an elected panel of 4 Councilmen) to implement policies and regulations. The Department of Public Safety is responsible for all of the city’s traffic signals, street signs, stop signs, etc. and the mayor and her staff also works closely with the Council in ensuring all daily operations run smoothly. In addition, the mayor constantly liaise with County, State and Federal government officials on a wide array of projects as necessary, which Davis describes as the most integral part of her job.
During her tenure as Mayor of Washington, Davis is most proud of the following accomplishments: refinancing the city’s debt, revitalization of the Washington downtown business district, partnering with the Farmers’ Market, bringing the K-9 unit back to the Police Department and consolidating the public transportation system – County and City level – as one under the Washington City Transit. Her vision for Washington is and has been to see a drastic drop in crime and drug use, see Main Street business flourish and “making little Washington the close-knit family atmosphere that it is destined to be.”
As with every other government office, elected or appointed, the Mayor’s office see challenges on a daily basis that deter Davis from effectively implementing that vision. The biggest challenge she described was, “petty politics” – which she says is based on personal grudges and egos of some elected officials. As opposed to interest group politics or ideological differences, this sort of disagreement is not based on anything substantial or credible, and does no good for any constituency base. However, because of lack of public engagement in city politics, many elected officials are able to get away with such behavior.
Mayor Davis strikes me as someone who rises above such kind of politics and cares more about the issues and people impacted by these issues than about the mere seat of the office. Her passion in the criminal justice system, evident since her undergraduate days at Waynesburg University, brought her to the City Council and her righteous (at times, ferocious) means of properly tackling that job led her to the Mayor’s office. While she may have lost re-election this term, we have not seen the last of Davis. She has expressed interest in running for a County or State position and presumably, a higher office at a later point in time. I have every faith that she will persevere in whatever endeavors that lie ahead and wish her my best of luck.