EACH TIME D.C. Council member Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6) ran for office, it was our pleasure to endorse her. It began in 1997 when she won a special election to replace Harold Brazil, who had given up the seat after his election to an at-large post on the council. We endorsed her for reelection in 1998 and 2002, and if she had decided to seek a third term next year, we would have been hard-pressed to consider anyone else. All this is to say that Sharon Ambrose has been a standout public official and among the cadre of members who have elevated the council's status as a legislative body. Her decision to leave the council to devote more time to family and her battle with multiple sclerosis is one the city can understand and respect. At the same time, the public is losing a senior lawmaker who brought much-needed credibility and leadership to the District government.

Of course, we did not always agree with Mrs. Ambrose. But we found ourselves on the same page most of the time, especially in the areas of government accountability and stewardship over the public purse. Her no-nonsense approach to legislative oversight and her insistence upon high performance standards for agency officials served the public well, even though bureaucrats were often made to cringe. The city made its way back from fiscal ruin during her service, thanks in part to her steadfastness and her support for viable economic development projects downtown. Sharon Ambrose helped put an end to the image of the D.C. Council as a refuge for small-bore politicians given to going off half-cocked on marginal issues.

Sharon Ambrose leaves the council as one of its most forward-looking members, a public official who had an uncanny ability to grasp the long view and the courage to lead the way. The council -- and the city -- could use more public officials in the Sharon Ambrose mold.