Schwartz Launches Third Bid for Mayor
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 18, 1998; Page D01
Republican D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz launched her third bid for mayor yesterday, promising to torpedo "irresponsible" budgets, to stop the coddling of criminals and to celebrate the diversity of the city.
"We all want safe streets, good schools, a clean environment," Schwartz (At Large) said from a dais in the middle of a sun-baked Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue. "The bonds that unite us are far stronger than those that divide us."
With her blazing yellow dress, raspy voice and "hey, buddy" style, Schwartz cuts the picture of a natural politician. She is a self-described "bleeding heart conservative" who served on the school board in the 1970s and campaigns easily in the city's black precincts. She is also a vice president at Whitman-Walker Clinic, the city's largest provider of AIDS-related services, and has garnered considerable support in the city's politically influential gay community.
She has distanced herself from congressional Republicans, who led the move to all but revoke home rule last summer.
"I will work with the Congress, the president, the federal government to get the support we need," she said. "But [I] will fight for the right to manage our own home. The next mayor must be allowed to run the city."
Of the 150 or so people at her announcement, about one-third were black. Lawrence Guyot, a longtime home rule and civil rights activist and a staunch supporter of Barry, was among the supporters. He says he discerns a direct line between Barry's populist style and Schwartz's.
"Courage, political agility and not being cowed by polls," Guyot said. "And she works easily across the race line. So it's easy to make the conceptual leap from Marion Barry to her."
Schwartz has been sharply critical of Barry in the past, saying his cocaine use was partly to blame for the increase in the city's homicide rate. She noted that the rate rose 162 percent during Barry's tenure.
Schwartz's council votes and political orientation would place her within the moderate wing of the national Republican Party, but there are barely enough Republicans in Washington -- fewer than 30,000 -- to have talk of identifiable ideological wings in the city. Five other mayoral candidates are circulating petitions that would put them on the ballot for the Sept. 15 Republican primary.
Schwartz is pro-death penalty and is the author of a number of tough-on-crime bills, including bills to require people sentenced to life imprisonment for first-degree murder to serve the entire sentence. She was co-author of that and another anti-crime bill with fellow D.C. Council member Harold Brazil (D-At Large), who is running for mayor in the Democratic primary.
Schwartz has voted against giving developers a 99-year lease to build a theme park on Children's Island, successfully sponsored a bill that will allow free parking on Saturdays, and opposed offering cash bonuses to lure senior city managers. "We're not the NBA," she said at the time.
Schwartz, who spent much of her afternoon campaigning in African American neighborhoods, addressed the question of her electability head-on.
"The question is no longer whether I can win," she said. "I've beaten the odds before. The real question is if the political establishment is ready for the kind of changes we are going to make."
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