No, He's Not Running! But Is He Building?

By Lori Montgomery and Eric M. Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 8, 2005

For the last time, the rumors aren't true! City Administrator Robert C. Bobb says he is not going to decide by January whether to run for mayor. He's not running for mayor! So stop asking!

Bobb will, however, own a home in the District by Christmas, he says. Or at least he'll own the lawn.

"I am actually going to build a house," Bobb said. "I will have the land by the end of the weekend."

Bobb declined to say exactly where this homestead lies. He hinted that it's somewhere east of the Anacostia River. But this is not the first time the transplant from Oakland, Calif., has said his long real estate search was nearing fruition. So we'll see.

In the meantime, Bobb is adding another big job to his already bursting portfolio: The mayor has appointed him to sit on the 11-member Water and Sewer Authority board. With the appointment, the District's firepower will finally match that of Montgomery and Fairfax counties, which both send their chief administrative officers as emissaries.

A Good Rookie Year

Now here's somebody who will make a decision by January: Council member Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7) declined this week to swat down rumors that he will announce his candidacy for council chairman soon after New Year's Day.

"I'm leaning in that direction,'' Gray said with a smile.

Gray, who headed the city's human services department under former mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon (D), was elected to the council just 13 months ago. But he has earned the respect of colleagues and constituents during his short time in office, carving out a reputation as a savvy and level-headed politician. And, for the first eight months, he rarely uttered a sentence that did not include the words "Ward 7" or "my constituents'' or both. Which is exactly what voters wanted when they kicked out Kevin P. Chavous last fall.

"I really ran to be the Ward 7 council member and nothing else,'' Gray said, almost apologetically. "I did not seek this out."

But the way the chairman's race is shaping up, opportunity is knocking hard. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) is leaving office to run for mayor. Council members Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) are officially running to replace Cropp, and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) is considering a bid. But, so far, there are no African American candidates vying for the No. 2 job in this majority-black city. Nor are there any contenders from east of the river.

Why should voters promote a freshman lawmaker with no experience chairing a major committee? "Seven-plus years ago, we elected a mayor with no experience,'' Gray said. "And he's done some things.''

Williams Plays Defense

Speaking of Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), after two terms in office, his default position seems to be dukes up.

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