We asked District residents if they had any advice or close-to-home concerns for the new mayor, and we heard from nearly 300 of you! In letters, faxes and e-mail--some starting off "Dear Tony" or congratulating Mayor-elect Anthony A. Williams on his victory--longtime and newly arrived D.C. residents offered general and specific suggestions for improving local government and the quality of life in the nation's capital.

Clean house in the D.C. bureaucracy. Lower taxes. Raise public school test scores. Revamp the libraries and recreation facilities. Arrest red-light runners. Beautify bridges and other entrances into the city. Help the homeless. Plant more trees. Encourage economic development. Discourage drug dealers. And fix the potholes and street lights and improve trash collection in nearly every neighborhood in the city.

Just about all of you wished Williams well in the arduous challenges ahead. We couldn't publish every submission, and the excerpts you see here were edited for space and clarity.

But we will deliver all of them--even the job resumes--to the new mayor after he takes office Jan. 2. Grade the Superintendent Give the new superintendent of schools one year to show us that she can improve the school system, then grade her. This means improve the safety of the schools and the environment where kids can learn. Visit, at random, all D.C. senior high schools. Look at the chained doors, the clogged toilets, the windows that will not open. Then tell us what you are going to do to fix the buildings. Keep the summer jobs program for youth, but get more support from businesses. Make sure taxpayer money is used to place kids in jobs that will both aid the city and them. Pay freshman, sophomores and juniors to prepare for the SAT and other tests. Pay kids to work at community centers, not just to sit around. Let them go to sports camps run by the city in return for keeping the centers clean and coaching younger kids. Pay kids to study music at the D.C. Youth Orchestra in exchange for keeping the buildings clean and tutoring younger kids. Find out what companies and people, including those who have gotten minority set-aside loans, grants and contracts, have done to aid the youth? Make an immediate appeal to all citizens to volunteer for programs that aid those in most need. Maurice Jackson Nicholson Street NW Make City Workers Answer Phones After you take office in January, please require city workers to answer the telephones and give correct information. LeRoy Felder Sixth Street SE Boost Adult Education A crisis exists in adult education in the District. The D.C. public schools report a 40 to 50 percent dropout rate. Approximately 130,000 residents do not have a high school diploma, and many read below a fifth-grade level. In practical terms, this means that they cannot read to their children or help them with homework. They cannot read and understand notes sent home from school. They cannot read medicine labels or fill out job application forms. There is a high correlation between lack of literacy skills and crime, teen pregnancy and other social problems. In spite of these findings, funding for adult education has been drastically reduced and appropriated funding has been eliminated. It is imperative that the mayor move to the forefront of an adult education initiative. Sylvia W. Keene Metropolitan Adult Literacy Council Inc. Metro Work Took Toll on House I have lived in my home on South Dakota Avenue for my 42 years. In 1989 Metro began construction of the Green Line at what is now the Fort Totten Metro station. To facilitate this construction and allow traffic access, a large section of my front yard was excavated and a temporary road was constructed. My husband and I suffered two years of pure hell because of traffic noise, machinery vibrations and the 24-hour use of high-intensity lighting. The work finally ended and the street was repaved in its original position. The problem is, the road was not replaced adequately and does not sufficiently bear the weight of the traffic. My house shakes tremendously day and night, rattling my sliding doors and the windows. I invite you to come into my house and witness this annoyance first-hand. The first bus that travels by will prove the validity {of} my complaint. Gloria A. Coleman South Dakota Avenue NE Need New Street Signs Replace street signs. Some are so old and faded that it is hard to read them. Some hang too low -- I have seen people with impaired vision bump into them. Assign a small task force, maybe volunteers, to drive around and identify potholes and other problem areas.

Work with the National Park Service to put lights around the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom time. This way, more people will venture out at night to see D.C., which will improve tourism and the economy. Judy A. Lew Sheridan Street NW Reduce Local Tax Burden I urge you to give the city a much needed shot in the arm by taking dramatic action to reduce the local tax burden on business and residents. I suggest you start by reducing the 5.75 percent general sales tax and particularly the very high 10 percent tax -- it's only 8.75 percent in New York City -- on all prepared foods, restaurants, cafeterias and convenience stores. And do we really need an 11 percent gross receipts tax on telephone calls, a sales tax on dry cleaning and a 5.75 percent sales tax on all labor? Neither Virginia nor Maryland imposes such a tax. Our high taxes have underwritten waste, fraud, corruption, cronyism, bloated payrolls and gross mismanagement. I know you are determined to address these problems and have promised visible improvements within six months. The surest way for you to live up to these promises is to revitalize the city's economy by attracting new business and residents. The key to that is an entirely new and fairer tax structure that would prepare the city for the new millennium. Allan Wendt Volta Place NW Ease Traffic on Residential Streets The District government has, over many years, accumulated a collection of agencies and bureaucracies that are ineffective, at best, and many of which should be left to other resources. Now a more specific problem. The residents of Capitol Hill are having serious, and worsening, problems with the Maryland commuters saturating our otherwise quiet streets. C Street and Constitution Avenue NE and Independence Avenue SE are good examples. These are all narrow, residential streets, lined with historic town houses that are set back a short distance from the curb. Every rush hour, these streets are overloaded with commuters who invariably speed down the streets, and often run red lights. These are heavily pedestrian areas, with many adults, children and pets on the streets. A Jeep Cherokee, speeding down C Street one weekday morning, lost control and slammed into the side of my 1892 town house. The house was condemned by the city, and my partner and I were forced to move into an apartment for eight months while we fought with insurance agents and contractors. Our house has been hit twice in less than five years. Our neighbor next-door has been hit, and the house across the street has been hit, all causing severe damage. This happens regularly, caused by commuters in a hurry to get to or from downtown. The heavy traffic should be routed onto the streets and broader avenues that are designed for that purpose. Robert Boell Ninth Street NE Clean Up Street in LeDroit Park We live amongst trash and filth in the 500 block of T Street NW, in the historic area of LeDroit Park. We are proud of our aged homes and the famous black Americans who lived in them. But when we turn the corner at Sixth and T streets, we are appalled at the piled garbage and trash. When we have special guests at our homes, we must hire a private company to remove the trash so that we will not be embarrassed. We also have a problem with the parties held in our neighborhood at an after-hours nightclub, the House of Secrets. It's no secret that the last two times The Artist Formerly Known as Prince performed in the area, he had a party that went on from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. The purple buses roared down our one-way street and unloaded noisy passengers. The limousines, cars and taxis pulled up, double parked and blocked our driveways. How is it that an after-hours establishment is allowed to exist in our neighborhood? We, law-abiding citizens, do not want this nightclub. We do not want to party. We want to sleep. Lois Wiley and LilliAnn Williams T Street NW Fight the Blight The alley behind Trinidad Street has potholes and is littered with trash. Because the street is one-way, we often use the alley to get to Queen Street. Tree limbs protrude into the alley and scratch our car. We've lived here for 48 years and have tried to stall the blight by organizing a block club. The blight is unbelievable now. Being aged, we can't fight it any longer. Help! Help! Joseph A. Strowder President, Royal Family Block Club Queen Street NE Help Neighborhood Groups I am recommending that the mayor consider the creation of an office of neighborhood associations to help provide technical assistance to community associations. This office could also help to identify pro bono services/professional volunteer assistance and other services, and generally be a source of information. I have read about a similar office in Portland, Ore., and this could be a model. Doreen E. Thompson, past president Carter Barron East Neighborhood Association Speeders Near School Our fifth-grade class is concerned about traffic safety around schools in the city. We are most aware of speeding cars, particularly on 34th Street NW, between Lowell and Newark streets. There is usually at least one accident a week, most caused by speeders. We would like police officers to patrol the street at least once a week, monitor with radar and ticket speeders. We need more 25 mph signs and more noticeable and properly working yellow blinking lights in the school zone. We invite you to come see the problem for yourself. Our class will take you on a walk up and down 34th Street to see the dangers the speeders create. Ms. (Kelli) Akremi's fifth-grade class John Eaton School 34th and Lowell streets NW Safety Net in Tatters I urge you to start rebuilding the District's disintegrated safety net. So Others Might Eat (SOME) is a nonprofit organization that has served families and adults who are homeless, disabled, low income and/or elderly for over 28 years. Like other nonprofits, we have struggled to deal with the devastation caused by the recent elimination of many safety net programs -- General Public Assistance, Tenant Assistance, Emergency Assistance, Homemaker Services and Burial Assistance -- that once offered a critical lifeline to people with nowhere else to turn. Without these programs, countless children, women and men have lost their homes and found themselves in increasingly desperate situations. The District needs a comprehensive safety net to ensure that no resident goes without shelter, food and clothing. T.J. Sutcliffe, advocacy coordinator So Others Might Eat Reroute Heavy Trucks My family and I have been living at our home on Rhode Island Avenue for the past 24 years. In that time, the street has become a thoroughfare for lots of traffic, especially trucks carrying heavy cargo. This is causing major structural damage to our homes: cracks in the walls, loose foundations. This type of traffic damage is not covered under homeowner insurance. We lie in our beds at night and feel the house shaking and rumbling when the trucks pass. We entertain in our living rooms and have to explain problems with the traffic, especially when a Metro bus comes by. It is depressing, frustrating and annoying to know you pay taxes and have to live under these conditions. We need help to save our homes. I am not asking the District to pay for my home repairs, which have resulted from years of severe vibration. I am only asking that the city reroute the trucks with heavy cargo back to New York Avenue or build up our street to hold the traffic and stop the damage to our homes. We would like a peaceful night's sleep before we retire. Denise E. Clyburn Rhode Island Avenue NE Young and Old Need Service I am 81 years old and a retired teacher from the D.C. public school system. I think the new mayor should attack the problems and concerns of the senior citizens and the children. The elderly do not have a program for recreation like the seniors in Montgomery County have. The children need bowling alleys and skating rinks in the Northeast and Southeast sections of the city. The nursing homes in D.C. provide very poor care for our elderly. It's really shameful! The senior citizens have paid their dues. We deserve better! Geraldine Mosley Johnson Allison Street NE Fight Breast Cancer In the spirit of The March to Conquer and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the D.C. Women's Cancer Coalition proposes that the District government use some of its surplus budget funds to establish a treatment fund to provide uninsured, low-income women with the financial resources to receive care not covered by current programs. This fund would ensure that women who are found to have breast cancer are given the state-of-the-art care they deserve. Paul H. Levine, chairman The D.C. Women's Cancer Coalition Neighborhoods and Parks Day Proclaim a D.C. Neighborhoods and Parks Day, preferably a Saturday. Ask residents to meet and talk with at least one neighbor they haven't seen recently; spend 10 minutes with a neighbor or two cleaning up a street or alley; rediscover your neighbors and neighborhoods by walking to a park near home; say hello to everyone you meet and talk about the things you like best about your neighborhood and what you can do to make it better. The mayor and the D.C. Council should visit different neighborhoods and parks and walk and talk with people. James Handley Bay Street SE Get Rid of Hump on Rte. 295 There is a large hump on Route 295 across from our house that cars and dump trucks drive over while going very fast. The vibrations from the trucks cause the house to shake. The walls and ceilings are cracking, and the plaster is falling off. The house is falling down. We keep trying to fix things, but it does no good because the large trucks keep driving over that hump. This goes on all day long. Please help us stop these trucks from destroying our home by removing that hump. Alice Aslam Douglas Street NE Visit Homes to Help Children Infancy is not solely a time of learning motor control and vocabulary. It is also the stage during which trust, empathy, conscience and lifelong learning and thinking are laid down and a period in which a predisposition to violent behavior can be "hard-wired" into the brain. The abused babies of today are the violent children of tomorrow. Babies that are nurtured and stimulated in a caring environment usually display normal social relationships and are ready to learn in school. The city should join communities across the country to implement effective Healthy Families home-visitation programs. It has only one such program, serving 115 families in Wards 1, 2 and 4. The mayor has the opportunity to provide long-term financing for Healthy Families programs to complement the success of Healthy Start in reducing infant mortality. Nothing will more positively impact the next generation of Washingtonians than to help ensure a nurturing and stimulating infancy. Harvey I. Sloane Former D.C. commissioner of public health Take Back the Streets It is appalling and grievous to live in a community where one cannot enjoy the simple pleasures of life -- walking to the library or to church, taking a stroll or shopping in the neighborhood -- because of crime and the fear of crime. We have virtually become prisoners in our own homes, especially senior citizens and children who are sentenced to a life indoors. This is criminal brutality! We must take back our streets from the criminal element and have zero tolerance for all types of crime and consistent, aggressive and fair enforcement of all laws. There also must be better policing to address all quality-of-life issues, i.e. open-air drug trafficking, public drinking and intoxication, urinating in public, loitering, panhandling, etc. Jourdinia Smith Brown 14th Street NW Get the Right Phone Number People have difficulty locating the correct telephone number to discuss city services. I can usually figure on about six telephone calls before I actually reach the office I am looking for. Numbers are continually given out which are incorrect. This is incredibly frustrating. And there is absolutely no follow-through on my calls to see if the problem has been corrected. Carol Acree Florida Avenue NW Better Teachers, Better Schools For a number of years, I have suggested to our various school superintendents that every teacher be required to reapply for his/her position on June 30; that select panels of educators, parents and community leaders be assembled to interview and rehire based on qualification and accomplishment in the classroom; and that those teachers who meet the standards be rehired but those who fail be permanently discharged. Buildings can be repaired, principals changed and new academic programs and tests introduced. But D.C. public schools will not improve until teachers are put in place who can and want to teach our children. Nerissa Phillips W Street NW Clear Off the Corners I would like to see more emphasis put on stopping loitering on the corners. There are sidewalks that you have to get in the street to pass. I would like to see more speed-limit signs in alleys. There is a pothole in the 1400 block of D Street NE that has been there for more than six months. Zelda Stevens D Street NE Plant a Tree -- and Water It I know you face many challenges in your new job, but planning for the future also should include planting new trees throughout the District. Once this is done, we need to make sure they get watered on a regular basis. Last spring, there were new trees planted along Connecticut Avenue and in the parks, but after a dry summer, many of them died because they did not get enough water. The D.C. government should make arrangements with the U.S. Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service to ensure that the trees get watered using federally owned water trucks. We should also initiate an "Adopt a Tree" program so local citizens take responsibility for keeping their new trees watered. Fred Davidson Connecticut Avenue NW Commuters Ruin Local Streets I would like the new mayor to do something about the commuter traffic on the streets in my neighborhood, Capitol Hill. On Maryland Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue, Potomac Avenue, Independence Avenue and other even smaller streets, pedestrians are endangered by the many drivers, most with Maryland and Virginia license plates, who treat the city streets like an extension of the highway. They drive at speeds that are often double the posted speed limits; they run red lights; they ignore pedestrians at the crosswalks; and then they complain that the District does not do enough to ease their commute. These are our streets -- where our children play, where we walk our dogs, where we pay income and property taxes. I think stoplights and speed bumps should be installed along some of the large streets where drivers commonly speed. Police should be instructed to ticket moving violations more aggressively. Maryland and Virginia residents who drive to the District every day should pay a parking tax to help pay for the high costs of maintaining the city's streets and highways. Joy Morgenstern Kentucky Avenue SE Vendors Add Blight Downtown Please do something about the vendors and their clutter, including the cars and vans parked all day long in prime downtown spaces, usually with Maryland, Virginia or even New York tags. Let's design a decent-looking vendor cart or even kiosk, perhaps have them buy them from the city, and let's charge a much higher fee for them to do business here, especially since they certainly do not pay any sales tax on goods sold. The intersections at New York Avenue and New Jersey Avenue and Fourth Street are made more dangerous by the traffic signs being obscured. And election signs stay up for months after the elections. Perhaps candidates should pay a fee up front when they register or have a fee assessed per item when they are taken down right after the election. Margaret Limehouse Fifth Street NW Educate Adults, Too What can the incentive be to encourage residents to obtain additional education or acquire skills necessary to become a sought-after work force? Improve education, skills and training for our children, but I would like this goal to include adults. Unless improving education includes enough adults, I doubt any significant improvement will happen within the school system or in the work force. I think almost every system in this city is in need of repair, but it is usually the D.C. employee who gets the "bad rap." In too many instances, the employee is performing his/her job according to long-established procedures, sometimes with faulty equipment or sometimes with no equipment at all. If the system is fragmented, the employee cannot make the systemic change necessary to improve the work flow, improve the delivery of services, etc. Most employees of the departments I come in contact with try to be helpful. They do what they can to help me through the maze and do the best they can with outmoded equipment and procedures and drab work environment. Dorothy M. Miller 46th Street SE Government Must Be Responsive Washington 20 years ago was a beautiful city, the pride of its citizens and the nation. Telephones were answered correctly, politely and knowledgeably. When you call an agency now, you cannot believe your ears. You end up wondering why you even took the time to call! No return calls -- no follow-through. In most cases, the person answering the phone cannot answer your questions. Letters are not answered. Also, it should be: You work here, you live here! Or pay taxes on our money that you earn. No more cronyism! You are employed if you are qualified, period. Carol Parris Westover Drive SE Former Nightclub Is Eyesore I would like to see a health food/nutrition store in my area. We have to go to Prince George's Plaza, Bethesda or City Place in Silver Spring to find a GNC Nutrition Store. I also am concerned about the now-defunct D'Cachet Club, which is an eyesore with that hideous color. No one in our area wanted the nightclub in the first place. Couldn't it be turned into a seniors' or skills center? Deborah J. Johnson Riggs Road NE Create Safe Havens for Children D.C. police trainees and rookies should serve their first year on the force at recreation department centers and Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs. This would put more officers into the neighborhoods and create safe havens for children.

Also, the vacant D.C. jail site should be used for recreation opportunities. Maintain the site, working with D.C. Department of Corrections, as a clean, safe, playing field for baseball and softball. Consider it as a future site for a Boys and Girls Club facility.

Invest in a boathouse for the Anacostia River at Kingman Island similar to Thompson's Boathouse on the Potomac near Georgetown. John Vocino Bay Street SE Keep D.C. Clean Clean this city up! We need better trash collection and street cleaning. The graffiti problem also needs to be addressed. I have purchased spray graffiti remover and taken responsibility for removing graffiti from the 1900 block of S Street as soon as it appears. But we need a citywide effort. A tough new law that sentenced graffiti artists to two weeks' duty removing their own and others' work would help. D.C. also needs a 'Deposit Bottle' law. When I was a child, I collected deposit bottles to supplement my small allowance. If the D.C. Council would pass such a law, the street people would soon rid the city of the glass trash. Gil Hill S Street NW CAPTION: Gil Hill uses a graffiti remover in an alley near his home on S Street NW. He says a citywide graffiti- removal effort is needed. ec CAPTION: Deborah J. Johnson says the now-defunct nightclub in the 200 block of Riggs Road NE should be turned into something useful for the community. ec CAPTION: John Vocino, at the site of the old D.C. jail at 19th and M streets SE, says ballfields should be established so children can play there. He also suggests that police trainees and rookies spend their first year at a Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Club.