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Ward 4, which gave Fenty his start in politics, could end job as D.C. mayor
Supporters say Fenty might be a victim of his success as a council member and of what they called residents' unrealistic demands.
Muriel Bowser (D), whom Fenty handpicked as his successor to the council after he was elected mayor, said many Ward 4 residents do not understand that his responsibilities have widened. As mayor, he oversees a city of 600,000. In Ward 4, he represented 75,000.
"It used to be that he would be in a living room if there were three people," Bowser said in an interview July 3. "I don't know if that's a fair expectation, when he has to run the city."
Fenty was 29 when he defeated longtime incumbent Charlene Drew Jarvis (D) in 2000 to represent Ward 4. At the time, Fenty accused Jarvis of losing touch with her constituents. Now some level that charge at him.
"The difference [then] is Adrian had new eyes," said Tim Letzkus, a Fenty supporter and president of the 16th Street Heights Civic Association. "Your house gets dirty, and you don't know it. Things are broken, and you live with them. A new owner comes in and says, 'Look at these light fixtures. The attic is messy.' "
That hands-on attitude has remained, Letzkus said, recalling how an e-mail to Fenty cut through the red tape for a surveillance camera on Colorado Avenue. But he calls Fenty "truculent and evasive," pointing to instances in which the mayor did not disclose travel plans.
Gwen Cofield of the Lamond Riggs Citizens Association said Fenty set "standards" as a council member. "He always had someone come to our meetings, or, periodically, he would come," Cofield said, adding that Fenty remains engaged.
Keith Jarrell, a former Ward 6 advisory neighborhood commissioner, moved to Petworth four years ago. The 54-year-old interior designer, a former Fenty supporter, recently e-mailed the news media and community leaders about Fenty canvassers planting a sign in his yard, even though he had one for Gray.
Jarrell said his disenchantment with the mayor is based on rising parking meter fees as well as an encounter two years ago at a roundtable in Bowser's office about improving the neighborhood. "I personally think the mayor is cocky, rude and arrogant," Jarrell said, recalling the embarrassment he felt when Fenty chided him for "cutting him off."
"I was quiet the rest of meeting," Jarrell said. "A staff member said: 'Don't worry. He does that to us all the time.' I said: 'Well, he pays you. He doesn't pay me.' "
Jarrell said he hasn't spoken to the mayor since then. Last year, when Fenty walked by him at a news conference about an arrest in the slaying of a Petworth store owner, "I purposely folded my arm so I couldn't extend my hand," Jarrell said. "He patted my arm."
Therein lies the problem, Cofield said. Residents expected Fenty to easily transition from council member to mayor, Cofield said, adding that she has tried to be open-minded about him. "Sometimes, I wonder if it's the way you sold it to the constituents. Is that causing the tension here?" she asked.