The D.C. Council voted Tuesday afternoon to reject Ximena Hartsock as the next director of the department of parks and recreation, delivering a setback to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).
After nearly an hour of debate, the council voted 7 to 5 in support of a disapproval resolution.
Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), Michael Brown (I-At large), Kwame Brown (D-At large), Phil Mendelson (D-At large), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 6) and Harry Thomas, Jr. (D-Ward 5) all voted against Hartsock.
Because the council approved an official disapproval resolution, council officials say Hartsock will have to immediately give up her position. Neither Fenty nor Hartsock was immediately available for comment but the action will likely worsen the feud between the council and the administration.
The council's decision comes as members are increasingly frustrated with the direction of the department under Fenty.
In recent weeks, council and the Fenty administration have been squabbling over the administration's efforts to privatize some daycare operations within the department.
Council members have accused Hartsock, who has been interim director since former director Clark E. Ray was fired in April, of ignoring council legislation seeking to delay the privatization efforts.
"We have had too many examples of people in the executive branch who have simply chosen to ignore the laws of this council, and I am sick and tired of it," Cheh said.
Thomas, the chairman of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, also argued that Hartsock was not qualified to lead the agency because she has experience in programming but not in the details of recreation.
"My philosophy absent serious challenges with the agency and its leadership, the council should refer to the mayor," Thomas said. "However after careful consideration and deliberation, it is clear this nominee has not met the benchmark."
But the Washington Post editorial board and others have raised questions whether some of the opposition to Hartsock was racially motivated.
At her confirmation hearing Friday, Council member Marion M. Barry (D-Ward 8) questioned whether Hartsock "understands" the culture of African-Americans. Barry did not vote today because he was hospitalized last night for dehydration.
The five council members who supported Hartsock argued their colleagues were unfairly targeting Hartsock because of their hostility for Fenty.
"The mayor deserves to have his nominee unless there is something extremely wrong," said Evan, adding Hartsock has been "very responsive" and is "well-liked" by residents.
"The residents in my ward are very supportive of this nominee," Evans said.
Graham added Hartsock shouldn't be a pawn in the dispute between the mayor and council.
"To be rejected by the council of the District Columbia, after she worked herself into a frazzle in making things right, it seems to me something is fundamentally unfair about this," Graham said.