Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Not since the power days of Alexander "Boss" Shepherd in the 1870s had D.C. residents been able to elect their own leaders. (The Boss lost his job -- and D.C. the vote -- after the city went bankrupt.) Walter E. Washington, who had served as a presidentially appointed commissioner/mayor since 1967, easily won the 1974 race to become the city's first elected mayor in almost a century. Congress called it "home rule" but continued to hold the purse strings for the District. An excerpt from The Post of Nov. 6, 1974:
By Jay Mathews and LaBarbara Bowman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Walter E. Washington became this century's first elected D.C. mayor yesterday, according to early unofficial election returns that also showed three longtime community activists and a member of the current appointed City Council virtually assured at-large seats on the new D.C. Council.
Democrats Marion Barry and Douglas E. Moore and Statehood Party candidates Julius Hobson Sr. -- three men whose names have been synonymous with activist black leadership here since the 1960s, took strong leads over a field of 17 candidates for the four at-large seats. ...
Sterling Tucker, now vice chairman of the appointed Council, was apparently elected to the second most powerful city post -- D.C. Council chairman. He and Washington, who endorsed each other in the campaign, were taking 80 to 82 percent of the vote respectively against an assortment of relatively unknown opponents, according to partial early returns. ...
The newly elected mayor and Council will assume office Jan. 2 with what are, for the District, unheard-of powers to levy new taxes (except a commuter tax), regulate financial institutions and completely reorganize a city government most Council winners have said is inefficient and unresponsive.
Barry, 38, who resigned from the presidency of the D.C. school board to run for the Council, led all 17 at-large council candidates with 17 percent of the vote in early returns. Last night he emphasized the civil rights background he shares with other apparent council winners. ...
Tucker told a victory rally at the Washington Hotel last night "we are free, we've got to get used to it." He said the people "want a Council that can work with the mayor ... to move this city forward."
Washington, more subdued after his win in the hotly contested Democratic primary, said "the people of this city have spoken and what I've heard is music to my ears."
While at the hotel, Washington took a telephone call from President Ford. Washington said the President congratulated him for his "convincing victory" and chatted about bicentennial preparations.