Dear Mayor-Elect Dixon:Excitement and anticipation always accompany the start of a new administration. But in your case those emotions are running rampant.
As the first female mayor of Washington, the come-from-behind victor who beat the odds by dogged determination and sheer feistiness, you've got us all waiting to see how a smart, sharp sister will turn the rebellion into a government. Most people want you to succeed, especially women in general and the black sisters in particular.
That's why I've watched with special interest some of your moves. I've been heartened and dismayed.
Although your transition team was not at first inclusive, I was pleased that you corrected some of the omissions and expanded it to be more reflective of the community -- including the kind of bedrock people who supported you against staggering odds.
In the early days of your campaign, you had only loyalists, be they personal or professional. Now that you are mayor-elect, others, including Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Patricia Worthy, Frank Rains and Henry Hubschmann have your ear, as well. This is good because the best campaigners aren't always best at running a government. But it is important, also, to stay close to your base, the people who kept you alive.
Now you need, in addition, people who have a good sense of the relationships among government, the media, Congress, business and the wider community.
Your decision to keep the services of City Administrator Carol B. Thompson beyond the transition shows you understand this and are willing to seek the good voices you'll need for strategic planning. More of those decisions would be welcome.
Which leads me to note that we still don't know enough about the objectives of the Dixon administration. What is your direction for the government and the city?
As mayor you have the responsibility to provide details of the broad-stroke vision that attracted voters -- in your case, in impressive numbers. I hope this is the focus of your inaugural address.
In your recent fights with Mayor Marion Barry, Council Chairman-Elect John A. Wilson and the D.C. Council itself, I've been somewhat concerned that you have not always seemed to pick your battles wisely.
The fight that you just lost with the council, for example, may be one you need not have fought at all. In its legislation to make it the overseer of all city leases and contracts worth more than $1 million, the council originally set out to thwart Barry. As an institution, however, it also was asserting its prerogative to become a co-equal branch of government -- a valid goal.
As a practical matter, I suspect that the legislation may have to be changed because the council will find it burdensome. But given the legitimacy of the principle, it might have been wiser to avoid a fight on this issue with Wilson, with whom you will have to work so closely in the future.
Of course, you come into office with a bit of the Jimmy Carter aura about you; there are many people who don't believe you can pull this off. "Who does she think she is?" they wonder. The way you govern will show them.
Some reports are coming from your transition team that things are chaotic. Although that is to be expected while a new administration gets grounded, the new reports are disturbing and worthy of your attention. The same calm, cool demeanor that was so attractive to the voters will continue to win support, so it is important that you, as mayor-elect, bring organization out of the chaos.
I am encouraged that you are a compromiser and a healer at a time when this city most needs one. Respect every resident in this city; don't be swayed by the elitist notion that only certain people have knowledge, values and principles.
Try to empower all of the people economically, for while we have made great political progress in Washington, black residents lag pitiably in the economic arena.
Try not to be too amazed at the level of personnel and bureaucratic problems, and inspire your government workers to be respectful and kind to every person with whom they interact. We live in a violent, frightening time and a little respect goes a long way.