In some editions, a Sept. 16 Metro article misspelled the name of Mark Tuohey, chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission. (Published 9/17/04)
Marion Barry reveled in reclaiming his spot at the center of the city's political arena yesterday and promptly plunged into the debate over how and where a baseball stadium should be built in the District.
Beaming as he embraced one supporter after another at his campaign headquarters in the heart of Southeast Washington, Barry vowed that as Ward 8's D.C. Council member, he would defend the interests of the District's poorest residents, who he said have been shut out of the city's economic renaissance.
"We're going to put 'East of the River' on the map," Barry said during an informal discussion with reporters outside his headquarters. "I'm going to make us one Washington, where east meets west."
The former four-term mayor, who soundly defeated incumbent Sandy Allen in Tuesday's Democratic primary, wasted no time in staking out positions on an array of issues, including the proposal by a fellow Democrat, Mayor Anthony A. Williams, to finance a publicly funded baseball stadium downtown through a tax on major businesses.
Barry said that he would oppose the use of any taxpayer funds for the project and that a stadium should be built on the property where Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium now stands.
In Georgetown, meanwhile, Major League Baseball officials met with local officials for about 12 hours yesterday on the city's bid for a baseball team. Williams stopped by the marathon session, but details of the discussions were not available. "It was a very productive meeting," said Mark Tuohey, chairman of the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission.
Major League Baseball President Robert DuPuy said the effect of Tuesday's elections, if any, on the city's baseball prospects was unclear. "We have no reason to believe that the elections have changed the D.C. offer unless and until we are told otherwise," he said.
Of public financing, Barry said: "Over my dead body. I don't believe we should spend one cent of taxpayer money on a stadium."
He added: "These owners stick you up. I won't let them stick you up."
As Barry spoke, motorists on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue slowed down to honk their horns, people waved from passing buses and some stopped to shake his hand. After five years out of public office, the former mayor was enjoying the prospect of his return -- virtually guaranteed by Tuesday's primary.
"Victory is mine. Victory today is mine," Barry sang softly beneath his ever-present straw hat.
Barry, who received no endorsements from elected leaders, called his triumph the most gratifying of his career because he had never faced so much opposition, including from friends such as the Rev. Willie F. Wilson. Wilson, longtime pastor of Anacostia's Union Temple Baptist Church, withheld his support this time, although he has supported the former mayor in past elections and Barry is a member of his congregation.
"It makes it sweeter," Barry said.
Wilson said that he did not think Barry would harbor any ill feelings and that he wouldn't be surprised if Barry came to church Sunday.
Barry said he wants to unify the ward and is organizing a lunch to which he plans to invite Wilson and each of his six opponents in the primary.
He brushed aside any invitation to discuss Williams's management of the city or whether he would have any interest in seeking the mayoralty in the future. "I'm focused on Ward 8," he said.
Barry's victory Tuesday stunned the city's political establishment, which had largely dismissed him as a marginal player, particularly after the District spent his last term as mayor mired in a financial crisis. And his widely publicized personal troubles -- including a 1990 arrest for cocaine possession -- didn't help his chances.
But Barry demonstrated that he can still get voters to the polls. In the weeks before the election, his campaign manager said, Barry's team had identified 4,000 probable supporters, who filled out cards with their phone numbers and addresses and indicated whether they would need a ride to the polls.
The effort to turn out voters was crucial. On Tuesday, Allen received 2,061 votes, almost as many as when she won the 2000 primary. But Barry wound up with 4,728.
About 16 vehicles -- some rented, others donated by volunteers -- were decked out in green and dispatched to make sure that all those who said they would support Barry got to the polls.
"We knew if we got 4,000 support cards, we would win this election," said Velma Bell, the campaign manager. "We put the names in our data base, and we messaged those daily, every time we had meetings, every time we had events. That was our support."
After waking up at the Washington Court Hotel on New Jersey Avenue NW, Barry spent the morning doing telephone interviews before driving to his headquarters, where a small crowd of journalists awaited his arrival.
"I feel fantabulous," he said.
Responding to questions about his plans, Barry vowed to work with the mayor and the returning incumbents, none of whom publicly supported his election.
Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) had already called to congratulate him, Barry said, and council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) had shown up at his victory party. Barry said that he had not heard from the mayor but that his cell phone's service was spotty Tuesday night.
He said that he was not surprised that longtime council incumbents such as Kevin P. Chavous (D) had lost Tuesday and that he had warned Chavous that his Ward 7 constituents regarded him as too aloof.
"I told Kevin Chavous, you better get busy out here," Barry said.
Referring to his own success, Barry said that God had given him a gift because he not only feels comfortable at a public housing complex but also can visit "the White House and speak the King's English."
Barry said he would introduce "four or five" legislative initiatives within a month of taking office, including one to guarantee summer jobs to young people 14 to 21 years old.
He said the program would resemble initiatives he undertook as mayor, and he estimated the cost would be $6 million a year.
In addition, Barry said he would push legislation to spur development in Southeast by requiring developers who seek zoning variances for downtown projects to build housing and commercial projects in poor neighborhoods.
"I'm going to push downtown developers to link up with Southeast," he said. "You've got to build housing out here. We're going to link the two things together."
Ward 8 struggles with many of the same problems that it faced when he was mayor, including poverty, poor schools and crime. But Barry said that it has improved, thanks to initiatives that he started when he was mayor, and that he will continue to promote change, though in a more limited role.
"We were 10 feet down in the hole," he said. "Now we're three feet from the top of the hole. We'll get there."
Staff writers Hamil R. Harris, Thomas Heath and Yolanda Woodlee contributed to this report.