MAYBE NOW THE VOTERS WILL TAKE THE PRIMARY SERIOUSLY
[from August 2002 issue]

PRIOR EDITORIALS ARCHIVED HERE


Well, thanks to his characteristic disengagement from the nuts and bolts of management, the mayor has thrown himself and all of us into a big mess. If only he would have kept tabs on what was going on in his name maybe we would not be where we are. But, then, why are we not surprised? The mayor approached the hiring of key campaign managers in the same off-hand way he seems to have approached hiring departmental managers--with virtually no attention to what was what. If only he had been alert as to how they were performing their work then disaster might have been avoided. But, again, why should we be surprised?

But what did surprise--and sicken--us was when he came out swinging against the Board of Elections because it dared to delve into the matter and then concluded that the mayor's petition gathering process was so tainted with irregularities as to have amounted to fraud

The mayor's response was that it was the Board of Elections that had acted in a "lawless" manner! Apparently, the mayor didn't consider that it was his agents who were the lawless ones! If it were not for sharp-eyed and attentive citizens like Dorothy Brizill, Gary Imhoff, Mark Sibley and others, the mayor and his cohorts would have gotten a free ride. That would have been so wrong and would have amounted to a festering sore in our democracy's flank that would only grow but for having been caught and neutralized early. Thank you, Dorothy, Gary, Mark and the others for your outstanding public service.

We know that most citizens assume that the mayor will still win, that he will be a shoo-in for vast numbers of write-ins so as to ensure his primary election victory (which has been tantamount in this city to winning the general election). But, we are not so sure about that.

For starters, write-ins can be very tricky and the history of these efforts has shown that they are fraught with danger. Yet, say many, even if he only garners a few thousand of these votes, he will still get the Democratic primary nod--so why worry?

Why? Because Rev. Willie Wilson, the fiery preacher with the big following not only in his home territory over in Southeast but throughout many sections of DC, announced on August 12, at a rally in front of the now-closed DC General Hospital, that he will kick off his own write-in campaign for the Democratic Party mayoral nomination. While we cannot report authoritatively that this will come to pass, since we are writing this only hours before he may issue a final confirmation, what we and everyone else in DC heard sounded very much like the real deal.

And a bad deal it would be. Willie Wilson is not what we need at this point in time. He is not a healer, but instead, he is a divider. He shoots from the hip and does nothing to inspire our confidence that he would be capable, or even willing to try, to keep our little boat of non-state afloat. While we have not been ones to applaud the present mayor, we do acknowledge that he has brought about a sense of balance and stability and a promise (yet largely unfilled) of correction.

Therefore, even though in our heart of hearts we would say nobody ought to write in the name of Anthony Williams on that ballot come what may, to advocate that if indeed Willie Wilson is out there trying the same thing would be tantamount to "cutting off your nose to spite your face." The idea of Willie Wilson as mayor of our nation's capital is too scary to contemplate, yet maybe the voters need to start contemplating this possibility.

The primary election is doubly important because there are some city council races going on and we must ensure that the council continue as a strong and credible foil to the mayor--and this will be imperative to the max should Willie Wilson actually get those write-ins.

In the past four years we have seen the council evolve into a dynamic (even if occasionally flawed--we think of its misguided parking exemption vote) foil to the power of the executive branch. And that is a very healthy thing in a democracy. One of the leaders of this now dynamic legislative body is the incumbent Ward 1 council member, Jim Graham. He has distinguished himself as not only a highly intelligent legislator but a compassionate one as well. This is not to say that we agree with every position he has taken on every issue, but even where we have not been in agreement, we have been confident that he arrived at his decisions after careful analysis and weighing all the options.

We also admire Graham's incredible energy, direct service, and overall responsiveness to his Ward 1 constituents, yet at the same time being able to place their needs in the context of the needs of citizens across the city. Along the way, almost as icing on the cake, we have witnessed Graham's "people skills" blossom during his first term. We want our politicians to not only be intelligent and creative and honest but also to be approachable and genuinely caring. He has grown tremendously in his position and we would not be at all shy about some day supporting him in a democratic primary race for the mayoral nomination. But, for the moment, we need him on the council where he joins with other smart and progressive members--so we urge his re-election without hesitation.