Editorial: Elect Vincent Gray as Mayor of D.C.

Photo by RJSmith
D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray
D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray
The District faces serious challenges to make it through the next stage of the nation’s long recession.  Already, financial experts are predicting lagging revenue that will require the D.C. Council and Mayor to come together to rethink, reprogram and pass a new 2011 budget.

Someone has to identify and negotiate the inevitable cuts and explain these cuts to District residents. But who?

In Mayor Adrian Fenty, we have an elected leader who, despite a long list of accomplishments, viscerally resists collaboration, conciliation or participation in decision-making.  He has failed to meet with D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray for months -- even prior to Gray’s entry to the mayoral race. Fenty has sparred with the Council over minutia, such as baseball tickets, and blocked the flow of critical information -- prohibiting his agency heads from appearing at even the most routine of hearings. Recent polls show that Fenty has lost the support of a large number of African-Americans, who apparently believe the Mayor has directed services and development to the more affluent and whiter sections of town. 

“We were so focused on getting results, we . . . didn't take into account people's feelings and their desire to be heard and listened to," Fenty told The Washington Post.

While Fenty sorts all that out, we have a city to run.  We believe that Vincent Gray has proven that he has the skills, experience and right democratic instincts to heal divisions opened by the Fenty administration. Gray, from integrating a white fraternity in college through his tenure as Ward 7 Councilmember and his impressive term as D.C. Council Chairman, has been a bridge-builder who insists on community and constituent participation in finding solutions.  We believe his One Washington theme is sincere, and that he will work to bridge the racial gap that too often divides our city. This skill will be indispensable as we deal with the looming budget deficits and across-the-board program cuts they will require.

While we urge voters to vote for Gray for Mayor, we also see a future leadership role in the District for Mr. Fenty and his energy, focus and vision.   This means putting an end to the cronyism, devotion to political fund-raising, and secretive foreign trips, while being collegial with the Council, respectful of subordinates, open, transparent and honest with the media and the public.

Former President Bill Clinton was instructive on the lessons to be learned from rejection by the voters, as he was in 1980 for reelection as governor of Arkansas.  In his book, “My Life,” he says: 1) "If people think you've stopped listening, you're sunk.” and 2) “If I hadn't been defeated, I probably never would have become President."   Adrian Fenty could do a lot worse than Bill Clinton, a.k.a. The Comeback Kid.