Washington, D.C. Mayor-elect Vincent Gray (D) is optimistic that he can form a close working relationship with President Obama beyond their first extended meeting on Wednesday.
Speaking alone to reporters outside the White House, Gray described his lunch with the president as "delightful" and said that it was "Even better than I could have hoped for."
"One of the most important things to me was that the president really wants to work closely with our city," he said. "We're going to — in the days and weeks ahead after I'm sworn in — are going to work very closely together."
Wednesday was Gray's chance to make a good impression on the president, who appeared to have a close bond with his predecessor, Mayor Adrian Fenty (D). Gray defeated Fenty in a heated September primary election.
Gray said that the president and he spoke about improving public education and early childhood instruction in Washington, as well as funding for infrastructure around the proposed new Department of Homeland Security headquarters in impoverished Southeast Washington. They also discussed solutions to the city's high unemployment rate.
Obama "was unequivocal in his support" for full voting rights for District residents, Gray said. Voting rights are consistently a top issue for D.C. government officials when it comes to their relationship with the federal government. But they will likely be difficult to pass under the incoming Republican House.
Gray added that they "didn't talk about statehood."
Gray and Obama are likely to meet again, according to the incoming mayor.
"There will be a lot of follow-up to this meeting ... there will be many meetings in the aftermath of this," Gray said. "[Obama] said 'I want to do more in the city. I want to do more for the city.' "