Williams Muses on Life in, and After, Office

Anthony who? In his first public speech since leaving office, former mayor Williams said people ask him,
Anthony who? In his first public speech since leaving office, former mayor Williams said people ask him, "Didn't you used to be somebody?" (By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)
By Yolanda Woodlee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How quickly they forget.

In his first public speech since he left office in January, former D.C. mayor Anthony A. Williams spoke candidly yesterday about how much his life has changed. Some people now ask him, "Didn't you used to be somebody?"

He rides on Metro every day instead of in a large chauffeur-driven sport-utility vehicle. And rather than posing for pictures with fans and celebrities, he said, he was handed a camera at a Wizards game to take someone else's picture.

Williams also revealed his "biggest regret" -- his failure to gain control of the D.C. public schools.

The former mayor is now chief executive of Primum Public Realty Trust, an Arlington County real estate investment fund that helps local governments obtain additional sources of money.

Wearing his trademark bow tie, Williams looked relaxed and joked that he hasn't changed his attire, despite the slick flier promoting the real estate symposium that showed him in an Italian suit with a printed silk tie. Those clothes were lent to him for a photo shoot.

Although Williams had endorsed Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's campaign opponent Linda W. Cropp, Williams had nothing but words of praise for his successor.

"I stand by everything he's doing," Williams said. "He's doing a wonderful job."

In his 20-minute speech to more than 200 people at the Fairmont Hotel in Northwest Washington, Williams shared funny stories, punctuated with his signature self-deprecating humor.

But he turned serious when asked what he would have done if he had had one more year in office.

"One of the reasons I didn't run again was because I wasn't given responsibility for the schools, and I thought the schools were one of the most important things to get done," he said. "If you're not going to let me do the most important thing, then I'm not sure what you want me to do. "

Williams tried to get control of the schools in 2005 but failed. He was able to change the makeup of the school board to include some members appointed by the mayor, an effort that he said laid the foundation for Fenty.

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