Mattie Taylor, a former school board member and retired D.C. employment official, announced her candidacy for mayor yesterday in a speech rapping Mayor Marion Barry's administration as a "growing political machine" that has mismanaged housing and jobs programs.
The 53-year-old former police officer, dubbing herself "Mrs. T," launched her mayoral campaign amid gospel singing and rhetoric that played heavily on a theme of an outsider's challenge to an entrenched incumbent who controls the resources and employes of the D.C. government.
Without mentioning Barry by name, but clearly referring to the city's executive, Taylor said she deplored the Barry administration's "intimidation" of city residents that has quashed resistance to his power and discouraged supporters from working openly for her.
"The emperor does not have a new suit of clothes," said Taylor, who served as Ward 5 school board member from 1969 to 1974. "He is in his underwear, and we are going to run him down the street and out of town."
Barry, who will complete his second term this year, is expected to run again but has not formally announced his intentions. Taylor joins Dennis Sobin, publisher of a sex-oriented newspaper, as the only declared candidates for the office.
D.C. City Council Chairman David Clarke is said to be considering a challenge to Barry but has not announced whether he will seek the city's highest office or run for a second term as chairman.
Taylor, who would be the first black female mayor of a major city, said that her "number one priority" is housing. Calling for creating a separate agency to administer public housing, she criticized Barry's administration for failing to spend available funds to repair deteriorated and unused public housing units.
Taylor said that she supports rent control and, although she did not provide details of her rent control program, she appeared to carve out a stand opposing that of Barry and City Council members who supported legislation that loosened the city's rent control law. The legislation was overturned by referendum in November.
Taylor, who retired in 1984 as deputy director for labor standards of the D.C. Department of Employment Services, also targeted corruption in that department as a focus of her campaign platform. Without referring specifically to the recent theft and fraud conviction of the department's former director, Ivanhoe Donaldson, she said that she intended to "clean up" the agency.
Taylor pledged to seek higher city subsidies for job training and counseling, and said that she would tighten up residency requirements for District workers.
She decried what she called "politicization of career service" under Barry, which, she said, had funneled top jobs to insiders and reduced opportunities for D.C. workers.
An Atlanta native who went to work for the city as a police officer in 1954, Taylor said of her early years in the District work force: "It was an open system . . . . We are going to open it up again."
Taylor is a widow with two children. Her campaign organization is headed largely by supporters who date back to her years on the school board, she said.
Mary Alice Branch, a former D.C. school employe and an official of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is her campaign chairman. The treasurer, Virginia L. Headley, served as treasurer in her 1968 and 1971 school board campaigns, Taylor said.
Taylor resigned from the school board in 1974 after the D.C. corporation counsel ruled that she could not legally serve simultaneously on the board and as a full-time employe of the D.C. manpower agency.