A group of prominent Washington political and community representatives yesterday announced a campaign to urge former D.C. Council chairman Sterling Tucker to run for an at-large seat on the council in this fall's elections.
Aldus Chapin, head of the Washington Ballet, said the group believes Tucker "will again be able to put forth that quiet, dedicated and knowledgeable leadership" that the city "desperately needs."
"He neither asked us nor did he say stop doing it," said former council member Willie J. Hardy at the District Building press conference to announce formation of the Draft Sterling Tucker Committee.
Already, four persons have announced their candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 14 primary -- Barbara Lett-Simmons, who currently is an at-large member of the school board, Johnny Barnes, an aide to D.C. Delegate Walter E. Fauntroy and unsuccessful Ward 7 council candidate in 1980, property manager Patricia Wells and bar owner Lawrence R. Williams.
Tucker, who served as council chairman from 1975-78, ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for mayor in 1978 and bowed out of this year's crowded mayoral primary four months ago, said late yesterday that he has not decided whether to run. Tucker did not attend the press conference, but said he knew it was being held.
Tucker said that he does not know when he will make a decision, but added, "It would be unfair to keep them waiting too long." Under city law, Tucker would have to make a declaration of candidacy or withdraw within five days if the draft committee accepts money or spends any money on his behalf.
Chapin said the group expected Tucker's decision next week.
Members of the committee include Ward 3 council member Polly Shackleton, Realtor Flaxie Pinkett, former D.C. Democratic Party chairman Robert B. Washington Jr., lawyer Joseph Rauh, Bishop Smallwood E. Williams of the Bible Way Church, William B. Fitzgerald, president of Independence Federal Savings and Loan Association, Woodward and Lothrop chairman Edwin K. Hoffman, former City Council president Gilbert Hahn Jr. and Realtor Raymond J. Howar.
Tucker has considered running either for chairman or for an at-large seat. One factor in his decision is financial. As a member of the council, Tucker would be paid $41,290, but could continue operating his business, a consultant firm. The council chairman is paid an additional $10,000 a year but prohibited from outside employment.
"Any new business is building," Tucker said. "I am doing well. My income is steady now." Tucker said he was worried about "potential conflicts of interests" that could arise between any future clients and his duties as a member of the council.
Yesterday's press conference was briefly disrupted when a few representatives of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local 25 appeared wearing "Willie Hardy Unfair" signs.
Ron Richardson, executive secretary of the local, said his group supports Tucker but opposes Hardy because of her role in drafting the city's workers' compensation rules that reduced benefits to employes.
Hardy called security guards who made the group put away the signs. Hardy later said she would resign from the committee if it hurts Tucker's chances.