Of the five living former D.C. City Council members, only two remain out of the political limelight. And both James Coates and Willie J. Hardy say they have no desire to seek public office again.
Coates, 48, was a council member from Ward 8 from 1975 to '77, then returned to duty as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Southeast after losing his seat to Wilhelmina J. Rolark. Coates says he is "not trying to get back in office, although I do miss the opportunities to impact on some decisions in a more immediate way." He has been active in both the Frederick Douglass Housing Corp. and the Anacostia Economic Development Corp.
"I've been focusing on the Anacostia area and will be active in my ward 8 in increasing voter registration and participation in the mayoral race," he says.
Hardy, 58, was elected in 1975 from Ward 7. She is an earthy, outspoken widowed mother of seven who decided not to run again in 1980 after serving two terms on the council.
Instead of maintaining her political activism, Hardy says, she has been "resting up" and trying "to learn to spell my name again. . . . I'd been called everything in this town." She has been doing some consulting work, she says, "but not making my living at it." Instead, she has worked at the University of the District of Columbia, first as a lecturer and more recently with the college of business, working with small businesses in the city "trying to keep them alive, by setting up accounting procedures, and helping them learn how to keep books."
She says she doesn't miss politics "because I'm still involved. My terminology of politics is making decisions, helping to affect policy and getting other people involved." As for elected office, she says, "six years was enough. I'm doing the same kinds of things as when I was in office, and I don't have pressures I had with the council."
She says she "will be active in the mayoral race . . . but I haven't taken a side yet."