Fenty Trounces Foes in Mayoral Race

Adrian M. Fenty joins other Democratic candidates at a polling place in Southeast Washington to greet voters on Election Day.
Adrian M. Fenty joins other Democratic candidates at a polling place in Southeast Washington to greet voters on Election Day. (By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)
By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Adrian M. Fenty, who inspired hope that he could fix the failing D.C. school system and resolve the divide between wealth and poverty, was overwhelmingly elected last night as the District's fifth mayor.

Fenty, a 35-year-old Democrat, had campaigned tirelessly for the job over the past 17 months, greeting thousands of residents door-to-door in all eight wards and pledging to reorganize government and turn his home town into a "world-class city."

After another long day crisscrossing the city, Fenty celebrated with several hundred supporters under a white tent near his campaign headquarters on Florida Avenue NW.

Fenty hailed a "new renaissance" in the District, vowing to "care for those without a voice who need us to give them a helping hand." He listed economic development, health care and safety as priorities.

"We can get all those right," Fenty added, "but if we do not fix schools and challenge each child to reach their full potential, we'll never be the world-class city we want to be."

As with his fellow D.C. Council member Vincent C. Gray (D), who ran unopposed for the chairman's office, victory for Fenty in the majority-Democratic city had been considered assured. He'd won all 142 precincts to dominate the September mayoral primary over council Chairman Linda W. Cropp.

He prepared to swiftly set the tone for change, ready to move his staff today from his small campaign headquarters to transition offices on the eighth floor of the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center, a city building at 14th and U streets NW. Fenty will take office Jan. 2, replacing Anthony A. Williams (D), who has served since 1999. He planned to outline some of his transition plans today at a morning news conference.

Already, Fenty and Dan Tangherlini, his designated city administrator, have set a busy agenda. Within a week, Fenty intends to name a new attorney general, general counsel and deputy mayor. He wants to eliminate administrative positions to streamline management and save money. He plans to travel to New York with Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, Gray and other council members to meet with Wall Street bond rating agencies. They also will discuss school reform with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (R), whose takeover model Fenty admires.

Fenty even intends to change the floor plan at the John A. Wilson Building, home to the mayor and council, by knocking down interior walls on the third floor to create a large, open "bullpen," where he would work alongside deputies.

"The goal is to have a city that works in every regard," Fenty said. "In order to make that case, you've got to have the best people, the best ideas and the best follow-through. The four years of our administration is the follow-through, but the transition is the time to get the best people and the best ideas and start to work on them now."

Despite nominal opposition from Republican David W. Kranich and the Statehood Green Party's Chris Otten, Fenty took a pre-victory lap around the District yesterday, greeting and hugging supporters at polling places. Wearing a black fedora and a tan raincoat while hailing voters outside the Taft Center on Perry Street in Northeast Washington, Fenty posed for pictures and took requests from those already seeking help: Come to our holiday party! Stop by our school! Meet with our church group!

Since winning the primary, Fenty has moved vigorously to prepare for the mayor's job. He traveled cross-country to meet with mayors of New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, examining programs he might emulate in Washington. And he declared that he is leaning toward taking direct control of the city's failing public schools.

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