D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has named Shawn Townsend as the “Night Mayor” of the District. Townsend’s official title will be the “Director of The Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture.”
Townsend previously worked at the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), where he supervised inspections of businesses that hold licenses to serve alcohol. He also worked as an investigator at the Office of Police Complaints and the District of Columbia Public Schools.
Townsend worked in the hospitality sector, as well. He was instrumental in launching and managing a bar and lounge in Charleston, South Carolina, according to the D.C. Mayor’s Office.
“I’m excited to welcome Shawn Townsend, former Supervisory Investigator at @DCGov_ABRA, to the Office of Nightlife and Culture where he’s going to help us ensure our city’s growth is benefitting more D.C. residents and local businesses,” tweeted D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
As the director, Townsend will oversee nightlife establishments, as well as city policies and procedures about the nightlife in the District. He’ll also mediate and settle any issue that rises between residents and the nightlife venues.
“Nightlife Mayors” are already working in cities like London, Amsterdam, and New York. In D.C., the Night Mayor is expected to do more as there are already other city agencies that are enforcing laws and addressing complaints.
“In New York, one of the items the bill focused on was nightlife wages and workforce safety,” said Brian Miller, a former nightclub owner and restaurant designer, referring to the bill that introduced the new position in New York. “That’s not part of the D.C. bill at all. It’s really geared toward basically resident complaints. The same thing you see come through ABRA and ANC meetings. It’s just another layer to field the same issues,” he explained.
Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington CEO Kathy Hollinger said she praised the mayor and Councilmember Brandon Todd, who introduced the original bill, for establishing and funding the Office of Nightlife and Culture.
“In a city where we have seen tremendous growth and opportunity coupled with challenges and concerns, it is important to have someone in that role to address all that comes with a growing nightlife scene, as well as a keen understanding of how to interface across agencies to help small business,” said Hollinger.
“Shawn Townsend brings valuable insight to the role through his time spent within D.C. government, as well as his work as an industry professional,” Hollinger added.