Return of Home Rule Among Mayor-Elect's Vows
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 5, 1998; Page A1
D.C. Mayor-elect Anthony A. Williams vowed yesterday that within six months of the day he takes office, the streets will be clean, city phones will be answered swiftly by courteous workers and there will be obvious improvement in the delivery of city services.
"How will people know we're in office?" Williams said. "They will see improvements. . . . We want to restore hope and confidence in residents that we can deliver the fundamental services they expect from government."
The morning after receiving a resounding mandate winning 66 percent of the vote and defeating Republican Carol Schwartz in all 140 of the city's voting precincts Williams said he would strive to build pride in the city's work force, invite people to grade his progress and insist on swift restoration of home rule.
"We want home rule restored to our city by January 2," Williams said. "That has got to be our goal, and we have to fight for that goal . . . while we're restoring good government and a strong economy."
Williams is scheduled to meet this morning with the D.C. financial control board, the presidentially appointed five-member panel that Congress authorized to govern the city. The board is prepared to discuss a plan under which powers stripped from Mayor Marion Barry by Congress will be delegated to Williams, sources said.
Under the plan, Williams would become involved in the city budget and personnel issues and assume day-to-day authority over most city agencies. Chief Management Officer Camille C. Barnett would report to both Williams and the control board, which would retain final authority over all decisions.
"It's important that we get the reins of power to show we can manage our city and move this city forward," Williams said. "My operative goal is to properly represent our citizens; the goal should be to restore home rule to our city immediately."
The plan to allow some power to revert to the District's elected offi cials ahead of the congressionally mandated schedule appeared to have been helped by the defeat on Tuesday of Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.), who used his position as chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the District to insist that the control board assume greater authority over the District.
It is unclear who will replace Faircloth as committee chairman, a decision that will fall to the Senate leadership.
The only other Republican on the subcommittee, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), would take the District job if it were offered to her, a staff member said yesterday. But Hutchison may end up with another assignment.
"It is really too early to know if it will come to Senator Hutchison," said Lindsey Parham, Hutchison's deputy chief of staff. "If it does come to Senator Hutchison, she will take it and she will want to make a positive contribution and will meet with all of the appropriate people."
Unlike some prestigious and powerful assignments, chairing the Appropriations subcommittee is not considered desirable by most senators because it takes time and offers little opportunity to impress or affect constituents back home.
Williams arose after three hours' sleep yesterday to sit for interviews on the morning television shows.
Wearing a burgundy sweater, he sat in Wilson's restaurant on Georgia Avenue at 6 a.m. and stared into the glare of television lights and declared: "Residents of D.C., don't believe the hype, you are going to be part of the best District government."
Asked what he could say to government employees who feared that his election might put their jobs in jeopardy, Williams responded that he had no set plan to eliminate jobs and that he hoped, instead, to develop morale among city workers.
He elaborated in a separate interview.
"I want our workers and to be blunt, African American workers to have the highest pride and accomplishments in their jobs," he said. "I firmly believe that as the son of two African Americans who worked in the post office, as an African American who has worked in government for 10 years . . . it's very important that we show we're the best. . . . It's very important to show that we can compete effectively."
Williams said he was pleased with the diversity of support that elected him and that he wants his administration to reflect the racial diversity of the District.
"We will keep this coalition together and focused on the challenges that confront our city," Williams said. "In the District, it's very, very important that managers in our city and top-level appointments reflect the diversity of our city."
Of the D.C. Council, Williams said: "I want to work with every member of the council. I'm going to be in their faces all the time, be in their offices, in a partnership with them. I think I understand Washington much better than people think I do, and it's much easier to get things done in Washington if you're not always taking credit."
Williams started his day at 5:50 a.m., riding down the elevator in the Mayflower Hotel, where he spent the night after his victory party there Tuesday night. Noticeably different yesterday morning was the presence of two tall, stone-faced men with earpieces who flanked Williams.
The neophyte politician and mayor-elect seemed a bit uncomfortable being escorted and shadowed throughout the day by two police detectives who ushered him in and out of a silver sedan.
Williams, whose low-key and bookish style is a stark contrast to the flamboyant Barry, was beginning the adjustment to his new police protection. And even before 6 in the morning, after a long night of celebrating the end of a four-month campaign, Williams readily acknowledged that in him the voters had chosen a different sort of mayor.
"They clearly didn't elect me for my charisma," he said. "They elected me to manage this government."
Staff writer David A. Vise contributed to this report.
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