Michelle Cross Fenty, who broke down in tears when speaking to media about the mayor after a the Washington Post debate Wednesday, continues her efforts to reveal her husband's softer side.
At a "Women for Fenty" event Thursday, the city's first lady said she knows that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) is not "arrogant" and was not involved in "contract steering" - perceptions that have dogged the mayor on the campaign trail against chief rival Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray.
Michelle Fenty described the mayor's heartbreak after visiting the mother who lost a child and after listening to unemployed youths inadequately educated in the city's public school system.
She delivered her remarks at a campaign event at the home of Lori Soto, wife of the mayor's longtime campaign treasurer Ben Soto.
"I get to see him and hear him with his three phones perched on his lap at 3 a.m. in the morning, having been up the entire night with his team, talking, texting, e-mailing his staff to figure out how to clear snow from our streets and get this city moving after a record-breaking snow storm threatened to immobilize us. I assure you ladies and gentlemen, he is human," she said in comments released by the Fenty campaign.
She said the mayor empathizes with those who have long felt left out of the city's progress, driving him to push for the construction of the Deanwood Recreation Center in Ward 7 and to build and renovate schools in all the city's neighborhoods.
"...[M]y husband will not tolerate a school system where all the nice schools are only in the nice neighborhoods, the way it's been for decades in this city," she said. "And I wonder ...why the hate and the anger towards someone who in his heart of hearts has only one mission - and that is to effectively serve all of the constituents of this great city."
Here is the full text of Michelle Fenty's remarks at the event:
Thank you for that lovely introduction. Thank you Lori Soto for opening up your beautiful home. Thank you to Jan Fenty (our mayor's mum), my mother-in-law and my sister Athena for your love and support . And a huge thank you to all of you ladies and gentlemen for being here tonight!
Wow---As I look around the room I see the faces of so many friends and loyal supporters---you are our strength! I am happy to be here in my home ward-Ward 4-can we hear it for Ward 4? Is Ward 4 going to deliver 4 more years? As many of you know Adrian and I have lived here happily for the past 13 years---thank you Ward 4 for your support and your faith.
As you all know-- I am usually not the person to give the speeches- so I am not quite in my element. I believe you also know that I chose at the outset to maintain my professional career, take care of my 3 young children and balance as much as a public role as my busy schedule would dictate. And while I have not been very vocal or visible for these reasons I believe it is time to take advantage of my limited spotlight tonight to say a few very important things.
As concerned parents, I know you care that our public schools are no longer failing our children, and you also care that D.C.'s dedicated teachers have the chance to finally be paid what we all know they are truly worth.
As businesswomen in our own right, we all know that our government is working towards making this city the hub of thriving business and development so that District residents can be fully employed.
As concerned neighbors we all know that our neighborhoods are the safest they have ever been in decades. I also know that you are all excited about the creation of thousands of affordable housing units including the creation of the Housing First program which provides permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals and families.
As women leaders- I know that you appreciate a Mayor who has appointed many of the best and brightest women to leadership roles within the government and I know that you are all filled with pride, just as I am, when I watch these fine women make significant strides in education, public safety and economic development just to name a few. Four years ago, would any of us have believed that we would have Chancellor Michelle, Chief Cathy, and Deputy Mayor Valerie?
As mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and friends, I know you all understand that it takes a compassionate leader to ensure that our weakest, youngest, poorest and those least able to help themselves are given a strong voice so that their plight is not forgotten.
As proud residents of this ward and of this entire city, I know that you all appreciate all of the steps we are taking in the direction of becoming a World Class City.
Our Mayor is a catalyst -ladies and gentlemen-speeding up much needed change in our City.
But with all of the exciting changes that have truly transformed this great city, we all know that change has not been easy.
I often get asked--what is it like from your view. I understand the question. Yes, I have a front row seat ... and yes I've learned a lot about politics in the last few years. It's tough, you need a thick skin and a good sense of humor.
I thought it would be good if I were able to give you a small glimpse into the Adrian Fenty- the person that I know.
I get to see the devastation on the Mayor's face when he comes home from visiting a mother in the hospital after her child has just died.
I get to see how disappointed he is when he talks to a group of unemployed young adults who can't understand why and how the DC education system gave them a diploma but didn't give them the tools they need to compete in the global economy.
I get to see him and hear him with his three phones perched on his lap at 3 a.m. in the morning, having been up the entire night with his team, talking, texting, e-mailing his staff to figure out how to clear snow from our streets and get this city moving after a record-breaking snow storm threatened to immobilize us. I assure you ladies and gentlemen-he is human!
What is most painful- is that there are people out there who believe that the Mayor does not understand their issues. It's absolutely heartbreaking to think that so many District residents feel disconnected from a mayor born and raised in D.C., who is married to me, and is raising our 3 children in the city where he's spent most of his life. He doesn't just understand - he's like everyone else here. He's lived with most of these issues and they are a part of who he is.
I know that my husband fully understands the frustrations and problems of the people who feel like their neighborhoods never see any benefits regardless of who runs the city. It is for this reason that it was so important for him to build a state of the art recreation center in Ward 7 so that families in those communities could have a safe place for the kinds of activities many of us take for granted. It is for this reason why it has been so important to work on lowering the crime statistics in all neighborhoods so that regardless of where you live -you have the same opportunity to be able to walk around and feel safe. It's why the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights said there had been a sea change in the separate but unequal school facilities since 2007 - because my husband will not tolerate a school system where all the nice schools are only in the nice neighborhoods, the way it's been for decades in this city.
It's hard for me to see my husband reduced to a one dimensional fictional character - that has no semblance of reality. It's shocking to hear people use "arrogant" as an adjective to describe him. I would say awkward perhaps, definitely moving at a 1000 miles per hour means less time for subtle conversation. But arrogance assumes that his directives of improving schools, lowering crimes, improving city services did not originally come from the people, it assumes a lack of understanding of the basic tenet- that as Mayor he serves only at the pleasure of the people.
It's even harder ladies and gentleman to hear the reckless, manufactured, calculated and mean-spirited aspersions cast on my husband, me and our family. I have known Adrian Fenty for the past 16 years. He is the most honest and honorable person I know. If you remember anything today I want you to remember this. The allegations on the contract steering are unequivocally, absolutely, categorically false. My husband has treated the office of the Mayor with honesty integrity, character and fortitude.
And I wonder ...why the hate and the anger towards someone who in his heart of hearts has only one mission - and that is to effectively serve all of the constituents of this great city.
So as we close in these final two weeks, I have come to recognize a simple yet important truth .... I recognize that Adrian Fenty's heart is with this City-the entire City- his city--I know that his dedication and commitment to all of the people of this City is unflinching- because despite the stinging barbs, the relentless criticisms, the manufactured misconceptions, the political miring of issues- he gets up every single day-says goodbye to our two sons, our baby daughter and me -closes the door tightly behind him and braves the political hail storm holding steadfast---to this one important truth... that there is nothing he would rather do than serve All of the people of Washington, D.C.
Thank you all for joining us on this mission--- We appreciate the privilege of serving--and with your help we look forward to another four years!