Fenty Emerges as an Action Hero

By Marc Fisher
Thursday, August 24, 2006

A nthony Lawson hadn't ever heard of Marie Johns until he saw her at a recent forum of D.C. mayoral candidates. He was impressed. "You seem inspired to do this because you care," Lawson told Johns after she finished speaking.

Johns beamed. "This is a heart thing for me," she said.

"Yeah, you really got to me with what you said," Lawson said.

"Thank you."

"But I can't vote for you," Lawson said.

Lawson's family will line up behind Adrian Fenty for mayor next month, because no matter how impressive other candidates' speeches might be, when Lawson's sisters in Petworth had a problem with crack addicts doing their stuff in the basement next door, they called the police, and no one did anything. They called the city government, and no one did anything.

Then they called Fenty. Within minutes, the Ward 4 council member called back. Within hours, he followed up. Within a couple of days, he had the police on the case. Problem solved, vote won.

"Fenty is out there," Lawson told me. "He actually does his job."

Next scene: I'm at Linda Cropp's campaign launch at 14th and U streets NW, and I see a veteran of the D.C. political scene, a government pro who has served three mayors. He has known Cropp forever, and his good friends from the Marion Barry era are running Cropp's campaign. Shhh, he says. Don't tell anyone, but "I'm voting for Fenty."

"You can't use my name, 'cause I'm expected to support Linda," he says, "but let me tell you this: My mother's block was getting real bad. The dealers were thick, corner to corner. I couldn't get the police to pay attention to it. Finally, we call Adrian. That same week, the cops flood the block and stay on it till the dealers abandon the place. See, I have to vote for Adrian."

These are far from anomalies; it is virtually impossible to go out campaigning with any other candidate without hearing such testimonials about Fenty.

People in opposing campaigns deride such stories as anecdotes that miss the fact that the young council member is green, unschooled in managing a government, reflexively opposed to business interests and -- this part is whispered confidentially -- not terribly bright.

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