Analyzing a mayor-elect is at best a tricky game. But some insights can be obtained by looking at the choices for the transition team made by Mayor-Elect Sharon Pratt Dixon. One enters such an assessment, of course, being fully aware of the mandate that Dixon's overwhelming victory gives her.
First of all, much can be said about the difference in style between Dixon and Mayor Marion Barry. While Barry's forte was inclusionary politics -- his ability to tap the grass roots of this community -- Dixon seems to be reaching for credentialed professionals in keeping with her outlook.
Dixon is giving the city what it asked for by electing her: discipline, propriety and efficiency. But she should also hone the people skills that Barry has.
Most important, as Dixon gives her transition team guidance as to the type of people she wants in key spots, she should look at each candidate's commitment to service.
Adherence to that commitment by some of the current administration has been questioned. But of course, there are some people who are truly dedicated public servants among those still working in local government. Dixon will be facing serious morale problems in the bureaucracy as it is reduced in size. By appointing those committed to service, she can enhance, and, if necessary, reestablish the kind of morale city services need.
By the appointments of her 27-member transition team, Dixon has shown that she has taken seriously the "sweep clean city government" part of her mandate; she has included many nongovernment people who, in terms of their efficiency and reliability, look very good.
The team, headed by Vernon E. Jordan Jr., a partner in the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld and former National Urban League president, includes eight other lawyers, several business people, four physicians, politicians, political consultants and professionals, educators, public safety experts and union officials.
But where are the community people who also have expertise, community experience and a proven dedication to service?
When asked last week whether the team lacked grass-roots representation, Dixon told reporters, "We have a committee in formation. We're going to get community input." I certainly hope so, for the community does indeed have an important contribution to make, and qualified citizens should be especially welcomed to the transition process and to the government.
For if the community is not welcomed in this new process, and if Dixon is perceived as an elitist out of touch with the community, her overwhelming mandate may begin to flip, for it has long been an axiom that people will participate more if they are working toward the same goals.
There are tough times ahead in this city. We are confronted with an entirely different mayoral style. We will be going through a budget crunch the likes of which we've never seen. Such a transition requires goodwill on all sides and understanding on the part of the leadership and the constituents.
Dixon has been elected leader of this city, but in her leadership it is important for her to foster, not only through her actions, but also her selections, the concept of service. For as Carter G. Woodson put it nearly 60 years ago, "If we can finally succeed in translating this idea of leadership into that of service, we may soon find it possible to lift the Negro to a higher level." That applies not only to African Americans but to all Washingtonians.
Most Washingtonians are cheering Sharon Pratt Dixon. As the first woman mayor of the nation's capital, she is one of the most powerful black women -- and black people -- in this country.
The District wants Dixon to succeed, for this community needs her as much as she needs the city. It is only with that understanding of mutual dependency that the city can reach the goals so hoped for when it gave Sharon Pratt Dixon an overwhelming victory on Nov. 6.