She started her first day as the District's mayor-elect by flooding the airwaves with a clear sign of where she plans to start cleaning house: Sharon Pratt Dixon called for all of Marion Barry's political appointees to resign.
Then she began to forge some of the relationships she believes will be crucial to the success of her administration, and nailed down agreements with people she wants to play pivotal roles on her transition team.
Early in the morning she called Alice M. Rivlin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office who has conducted a financial analysis of government operations for the city, to ask for assistance.
"She stands ready to help us in some kind of advisory role," Dixon said.
At midday, she met with newly elected D.C. Council chairman John A. Wilson and outgoing Mayor Marion Barry in their District Building offices to discuss the city's financial crisis. The cheerful, ceremonial visits masked tension that underlies Dixon's relationships with both men, sources said.
Barry released a statement after their meeting that asked her to be more considerate of his top aides. "I hope she will agree with me that requesting resignations now is not the most orderly way to complete this transition," he said. "Of the more than 40,000 D.C. government employees, only 177 serve at the pleasure of the mayor . . . . They have known since this summer that I was not running for mayor and that their service to the Barry administration would end January 2."
Those selected by Dixon for her transition team so far have little city government experience.
Vernon E. Jordan Jr., a former president of the National Urban League and a partner in the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, will serve as chairman.
"I think she's looking for fresh perspectives from members of the community, as opposed to those who have been intimately involved in government," said Dr. Vivian Pinn-Wiggins, chairman of pathology at Howard University Hospital and Medical School and immediate past president of the National Medical Association.
Pinn-Wiggins, who is vice chairman of the District's Board of Medicine, also will be a co-chairman of the transition team and will concentrate on health and human services, campaign sources said.
Henry Hubschman, a partner in the law firm of Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, who was executive assistant to Patricia Roberts Harris when she was secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, also has been asked to be a co-chairman.
His duties will include following up on the Rivlin report, a top Dixon aide said.
Charles E. Tate, president of the Booker T. Washington Foundation, will be the third co-chairman and will help formulate economic development policy.
John Dixon, a close friend who is not related to the mayor-elect, has been asked to be co-chairman of the search committee that will identify candidates for cabinet and other key positions. He is general manager of the downtown J.W. Marriott hotel.
Joan Baggett, director of congressional and organizational relations for the Democratic National Committee and formerly a lobbyist for the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen, will be the other co-chairman of the search committee.
Dixon also plans to set up transition committees for education, financial management and restructuring the office of mayor.
Dixon and Wilson appeared at a news conference at which they announced plans to cooperate in addressing the city's mounting budget deficit, but provided few details about how they plan to do it.
The mayor-elect repeated her campaign promise to not initiate any tax increases. "I've indicated all along that I do not favor any type of tax increase, and I'm going to do my very best to avoid that in any way possible," she said.
Asked about his position on taxes, Wilson replied, "The mayor doesn't favor a tax increase . . . so we won't see one then, will we?"
Wilson, chairman of the council's Finance and Revenue Committee, said in a subsequent interview that he believes that some kind of tax increase is necessary as part of a financial rescue package for the city that includes budget cuts and an increased federal payment, but he said he doubts there will be the political will to impose new taxes this year. The ball is in Dixon's court on that issue, he said.
"It is up to the mayor to propose what she wants," he said. "If the mayor doesn't want a tax increase, propose a budget without one. I'm not going to insist on a tax increase.
"Everybody has to be on board. I don't feel people are prepared to make the decision at this point. But there will be no tax increase initiated by me."
The city is facing what Barry administration officials have described as a potential $200 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year. Barry abandoned plans yesterday to propose a supplemental budget and tax increases after meeting with Dixon and discussing the matter with Wilson.
Lurma Rackley, Barry's press secretary, said Barry and Wilson agreed that Barry would not submit the plan "to give the new mayor an opportunity to develop her own solutions for the budget crisis.
As she tackled her official duties yesterday, Dixon also juggled personal tasks. She canceled a part of her afternoon schedule to visit her grandmother, who was distressed after being evacuated from her Northwest Washington house Tuesday night when a fire broke out next door. And she planned for her daughter, Drew's, birthday today.
Shouts of congratulations greeted Dixon everywhere she went. As word spread of her call for city employee resignations, however, pleas of mercy were also heard from the fringes of the crowds she drew.
"Please don't take my job," one woman cried out as the mayor-elect made her way across the campus of the University of the Distict of Columbia to a radio interview.
"It's standard operating procedure when you have a new chief executive to invite letters of resignation from all political appointees of the previous administration," Dixon said in one of many interviews.
"If you're doing a good job, I'm going to protect you, I'm going to help you, I'm going to work with you," she said in a message to city workers. "If you haven't been doing a good job then you have reason to be concerned because I'm going to use everything at my disposal to get rid of you.
"The bottom line is to make government work for the city. I have no other agenda than that."
In an interview with Black Entertainment Television, the mayor-elect said she hadn't really focused on the fact that she became one of the most powerful black women in America overnight.
"I don't tend to think about it unless someone brings it up," she said. "What I think about is trying to live up to the commitments I've made to the people of my home town. It's a town that has had a lot of disappointments, and I don't want to disappoint them again."
Staff writer Michael Abramowitz contributed to this report.