Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gray wins, D.C. loses

What if you had a once-in-a-generation mayor who took rare decisive action to fix a broken system and inspire thousands of young, diverse residents not bogged down by the deep divisions of race and class that have been exploited for decades by the political establishment?

Mayor Adrian Fenty was that special man, that rare breed of leader who actually made Washington D.C. a better place to live and work by reforming the schools, reducing the crime rate, improving city services, adding bike lanes and bus routes and streetcars to get people out of their cars, revitalizing long-neglected neighborhoods like Columbia Heights that helped spark a population growth after decades of decline.

And what if those hard-fought gains turned our Nation's Capital from a national joke to a model for urban renewal?

Mayor Fenty won many admirers for his dynamic approach to governing and was endorsed for re-election by The Washington Post, Washington Examiner, Washington City Paper and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Newark Mayor Corey Booker and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

But that wasn't enough in this racially and economically divided city where leadership is still defined by personality over substance and getting things done. So this morning at 5:24 a.m. I sadly report that District voters rejected our great mayor and decided to take a major step backwards by electing Council Chairman Vincent Gray who ran a viciously negative, Republicanesque campaign by playing on the economic and racial insecurities of D.C. residents by tearing down Fenty and offering no alternative platform whatsoever other than to make disingenuous and false promises to disgruntled special interests.

Way to go D.C. Your shortsighted betrayal of Fenty will discourage dynamic young leaders from taking office in this city and perpetuate the stereotype of D.C. as a provincial backwater Southern town unable to tackle big issues, instead of the world-class city Fenty was trying so hard to create.

And this is the thanks he gets -- booted out of office despite the majority of residents saying their city is better off after four years of his visionary leadership.

It truly is a Gray day in Washington, D.C.

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