Sworn In as Mayor, Fenty Vows 'Greatness' for District, Schools

Adrian M. Fenty takes the oath of office at the Washington Convention Center. Looking on are his wife, Michelle, sons Matthew, left, and Andrew and parents Jan and Phil Fenty.
Adrian M. Fenty takes the oath of office at the Washington Convention Center. Looking on are his wife, Michelle, sons Matthew, left, and Andrew and parents Jan and Phil Fenty. (By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)

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By David Nakamura and Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, January 4, 2007

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty took his public oath of office before a crowd of nearly 1,000 at the Washington Convention Center yesterday, then pledged that his administration "will settle for nothing less" than a world-class school system because "it is our time to achieve greatness."

In a 10-minute inaugural address, Fenty (D) described the city as one that has emerged from the fiscal mismanagement of a decade earlier but that is eager for more improvement and has developed higher expectations. He promised to make substantial progress toward fixing schools, gaining congressional voting rights, attacking HIV/AIDS, building affordable housing and reducing violent crime.

Only then, Fenty said, can the District "fulfill our destiny."

"This government intends to be measured most for how much we do for the least," Fenty told the crowd, which included residents from all eight wards. "We will be a model for the nation on how a great city can continue to grow and prosper. We will be a beacon to the world."

Fenty's remarks, which were met with a standing ovation, set the tone for the new face of the District government's leadership. In addition to Fenty, council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D); new council members Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), Harry "Tommy" Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6); and reelected members David A. Catania (I-At Large), Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) repeated the oaths they had taken privately Tuesday.

Gray, who served two years as the Ward 7 member before winning the chairman's job, campaigned under the slogan "One City," a reference to a growing divide between rich and poor that has been felt most strongly east of the Anacostia River, where economic development has lagged.

Playing off that theme yesterday, Gray compared the District to a Dickensian city divided by class, with one part that "bustles with life" and the other a place where "hope and dreams are snuffed out."

"One city is possible, if each day we embrace that goal," Gray concluded. "One city, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Most of the other council members cited priorities including voting rights, affordable housing and public safety. Cheh, for example, pleaded with the out-of-town guests in the audience to help the District achieve full voting representation in Congress.

"We deserve the right to vote," she said. "Tell your congressmen."

Although about 4,000 tickets had been distributed and two giant televisions were set up to broadcast the event to those seated far away, the massive ballroom was less than half-full. Among the dignitaries were Fenty's predecessor, Anthony A. Williams; Maryland Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley (D); Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.); and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who administered the oath to Cheh.

Music from a harpist greeted residents as they entered and a pair of singers capped the proceedings with a gospel-inflected song, "Pride of D.C.," that Fenty's inaugural committee had commissioned.

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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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