Carol Schwartz, the apparent winner of an at-large D.C. City Council seat in Tuesday's election, will be a strong advocate for better city services and fiscal restraint at the District Building but will run up against the political realities of being a freshman legislator, her new colleagues predicted yesterday.
Schwartz, who apparently defeated incumbent Jerry A. Moore Jr. (R-At Large) and four others to win the seat, built a reputation during two terms on the school board as a fighter who didn't hesitate to speak her mind.
Council members were divided yesterday on whether she will have that kind of impact on the council.
Schwartz' arrival will give the council a female majority. It also will prompt what may become a major reorganization of council committee assignments, as at least four council members seek to replace Moore as chairman of the powerful Committee on Public Works.
"She will be one more voice looking critically at tax issues and expenditures and a person who is willing to ask the hard questions," said Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large), a strong supporter of Schwartz during her campaign.
"Her presence will create a different mix of things and could make things turn out differently," said Kane, who until now has had few dependable allies on the council.
"Her election is voters saying to other elected officials that this is the direction we want to go in."
But John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), who has sided with Kane on some budget issues, cautioned, "Voices don't make that much of a difference here. The question is whether you can get seven votes to go with the issues."
Council member Frank Smith (D-Ward 1), who served with Schwartz on the school board, said the newly elected council member will find that she will need to be a team player.
"The fact that she is an at-large council member means that she is free to take up gadfly issues and to do the kind of projecting she has indicated she would like to," said Smith.
"But I think that experience shows that council members like that are not effective in delivering services to people. The electorate has not been that kind to people who play that role."
Schwartz yesterday declined to speak with The Washington Post about her apparent election to the council, saying she believes the paper has been unfair to her during her political career and specifically citing a Post editorial endorsing Moore in Tuesday's election.
Final results of the race will not be known for another week because incumbent Moore ran a write-in campaign and it will take some time for elections officials to count the write-in votes. However, she drew substantially more votes than the total number of write-ins cast Tuesday, and though some write-ins that did not show up in the tally will eventually be counted, the assumption at the District Building was that her formidable lead would hold.
"For my part, I will receive any new member as we have received members before," council Chairman David A. Clarke said. "Any new member will be cooperated with to the extent that they are willing to cooperate with their colleagues."
Schwartz, in serving as Ward 3 representative on the school board from 1974 to 1981, demonstrated that she wasn't shy. As the board's vice president, she led a move to ban out-of-town travel for some board members. When she left the board, she called some board members "unproductive" and said that "it would be a public service for them not to seek reelection."
One of those board members, R. Calvin Lockridge, who still represents Ward 8, said yesterday that despite his differences with Schwartz, he believes she will make an "excellent" council member.
"I think she was an excellent protector of her constituents' interests," said Lockridge. "She was an aggressive politician to protect that interest."
Nevertheless, as the junior member on the 13-member council, Schwartz is unlikely to win a committee chairmanship. Although Clarke said he would not discuss any new committee assignments until election results are final, sources said that at least four council members -- Kane, Frank Smith (D-At Large), Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) and H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) -- have expressed interest in Moore's Public Works Committee.
Mayor Marion Barry, who said he plans to talk with Clarke about plans to reorganize the council, described Smith as "a good team player for me" and said that Smith or Crawford would be a logical choice to head the public works committee. Regarding Kane, a persistent Barry critic, Barry said, "She doesn't have a majority of support on her own committee."
Kane, in charge of the council's public service and cable committee, would not comment on whether she wants to head the Public Works Committee.