As D.C. delegate, Democrat Betty Ann Kane says she would begin a city orientation program for new members of Congress and try to isolate those who engage in what she describes as District-bashing.
"I will restore respect and credibility for our city in Congress," said Kane, an at-large D.C. Council member, adding that the city's standing on Capitol Hill is at "an all-time low."
Kane, a former school board member, a three-term council member and chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, says she is the voters' best choice because she doesn't need on-the-job training.
"I'm not leaving my council seat where I have been able to get things done to go to Congress to be a symbol," Kane said at a recent candidates forum. "I know how to talk to them, who to talk to and what to say."
Kane, 49, said she would make her office a clearinghouse for information on the District and focus on local issues, including crime, affordable housing and the environment.
D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy, who is a candidate for mayor, failed to pay sufficient attention to city problems and did little to stop the deterioration of the city's relationship with Congress, Kane said.
When Kane came to the District in 1967 after receiving a master's degree from Yale University, she worked as an assistant professor at Catholic University, development officer of the Museum of African Art and director of public programs at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Kane's political career began when Marion Barry resigned from the school board to become a member of the D.C. Council. Kane won an election to complete Barry's school board term and won a full term on the board in 1975.
During her early political career, Kane was called overly ambitious by some critics, largely bcause she ran for mayor in 1982 after one term on the council. Kane dropped out of the race after failing to attract sufficient financial support.
Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7), who has worked with Kane for a decade and supports her candidacy, said Kane has mellowed over the years and is extremely popular with voters.
As a council member and chairman of the council's Committee on Government Operations, Kane became one of the Barry administration's most outspoken critics. She often has said that she brought a "strong, independent voice" to the council and last year headed a council investigation of the ill-fated D.C.-Virgin Islands personnel project.
She consistently has opposed tax increases and stresses that the executive branch has been ineffective in managing the city's financial resources. On occasion, her stands have become controversial. In 1986, she was targeted for defeat by tenant activists who were angry that she joined other council members in voting to weaken the rent-control law.
As a candidate for the delegate's seat, Kane is facing the familiar question of how a white candidate expects to win in a predominantly black city. Kane, who won three at-large races and received more votes than Barry in the 1986 general election, says people judge her by her actions.
"They know what I've done and what I'm about," Kane said. "They want someone who is not afraid to stand up and say what is right."
Joslyn N. Williams, a labor leader and chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, said part of Kane's success comes from tending to the needs of residents.
"This is a woman who has proven that she can get black votes and she has taken on all comers and beaten them," Williams said. "She has beaten them because she has good constituent services and a good staff."