Mayor Vincent Gray's One City Summit draws thousands to convention center

Today proved that in this one city there are many voices.

Two thousand people came to the Washington convention center today for a day-long summit to share concerns about the city.

The event, “One City,” was hosted by Mayor Vincent Gray in an attempt to get ideas directly from residents about how to improve the city.

It was a city-wide brainstorm -- part town hall, part airing-of-grievances about what changes residents want to see change and how.

“This is democracy at the most grass roots level I think it’s an opportunity for everyone to come out and have their voices heard, to share with government leaders what they are interested in,” DC resident Antoinette Mitchell said today at the summit.

“I came to be a part of our city,” DC resident Stacy Linhart said today, “We have a lot of diversity here and we can all benefit from being able to come together, throw ideas around and lift each other up.

Residents who attended were broken into small groups with people from different wards across the city.

The group ranked issues they care about the most – and ideas for how they’d like to see the city implement the changes.

The economy was one of the top concerns – residents voicing concerns about school budgets, affordable housing, and jobs.

Taxi cab driver Alfred Parker came to discuss modernizing the taxi cab company.

“I’m really concerned about the transportation industry,” Parker said, “we’re not at the table.”

Parker said today was a “good step” to including more taxi cab drivers at the table with the DC government.

The residents ideas generated at the table discussion were then filed by computers and sent in immediately to the mayor’s office for consideration.

“I hope they adopt a lot of the table discussions that we had at my table to improve the district,” Latika Whitener said, adding that the most important issue she believes her group put forward today is the lack of programs for troubled youth in the city.

In an interview with ABC7 today Mayor Vincent Gray says that he intends to use all the feedback collected from the forum.

“It will go into us continuing to have a comprehensive plan to the city as we change that and it certainly will have an impact on the budget,” Gray said, “We think we’ll have good information to build upon.”

The event came with a hefty price tag to DC taxpayers, costing the city $550,000 to put on the event. $50,000 additional came from private donations, the mayor’s office confirmed.

Some participants said for such an expensive event they’ll believe the results when they see them.

“It will be real important to see whether or not they do take what we put forward on the table today and how they implement it,” Rob Ramson said, “Implementation seems to be an issue here in the city.”