Know that old maxim an elephant never forgets? Well, Team Fenty doesn’t want donkeys, independents and other prospective voters to forget either.
And if voters are merely unaware of what Adrian M. Fenty has accomplished as mayor, his re-election campaign hammers away - letting voters know Mr. Fenty paid attention when he served as a staffer on the D.C. Council Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation.
Team Fenty is trying to answer the question “What have you done for me lately?” before voters even pose the query.
It’s all part of the campaign’s “Getting Results” slogan, whose intent is to credit Mr. Fenty and dispel any suspicion that his administration has class or race biases. The mayor is an equal opportunity tax-and-spend Democrat.
Scores of new and renovated schools, parks, libraries and recreation centers have sprung up since Mr. Fenty became mayor in 2007 and his campaign never misses an opportunity to remind voters.
Mr. Fenty and his supporters pitch the capital-spending boom in campaign literature, on his re-election website, and during campaign stops.
The windows of the Fenty campaign headquarters in the 5900 block of Georgia Avenue are strategically plastered with “Getting Results” posters that tout building projects in each of the city’s political wards. Passers-by walking north can first see the poster for Ward 1, arguably the city’s most ethnically diverse, and Ward 8, the city’s poorest section, is last in the lineup.
But being last in line doesn’t necessarily mean Ward 8 voters have been shortchanged.
Wards 5 and 8 hold the No. 1 and No 2 spots, respectively, when it comes to spending on school buildings, according the nonprofit, nonpartisan 21st Century School Fund. Between the time Mr. Fenty took office in 2007 and 2009, when he launched his re-election campaign, Mr. Fenty spent more than $156.6 million in Ward 5 and more than $133.5 million in Ward 8 on school construction.
The fewest dollars were spent in Mr. Fenty’s own neck of the woods, Ward 4.
But the executive director of 21st Century, Mary Filardo, says the numbers actually tell several stories. For example, per-pupil ($35,938) and square-footage construction costs ($152) were the highest in Ward 2, which stretches from Georgetown to downtown Washington. Ward 3, the wealthiest area, placed second in per-pupil ($18,364) and square footage spending ($118).
When the number of students per ward is factored in, yet another picture emerges, Ms. Filardo says.
“Ward 7 and 8 had 34 percent of all of the DCPS students - 14,388 students in the 2008-09 school year, while Wards 2 and 3 enrolled only 19 percent - 8,199 students,” Ms. Filardo said in a recent statement. “Communities without social capital lose out on public investment when there is poor planning and no intentional public policy for equity.”
Ms. Filardo’s comments weren’t arbitrary. Her statement was in response to an article last month in The Washington Post that analyzed city data and concluded that “Fenty’s spending priorities don’t favor certain wards.”
A retort, of sorts, came June 25 from Washington Examiner columnist Harry Jaffe, who said Ms. Filardo “contorted the numbers to suit her conclusion.”