- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Marion Barry wants you. Well, not you, but he does want your vote in the at-large D.C. Council race. "I'm a people person, a public servant to the bone," he recently told Adrienne Washington, a columnist for The Washington Times. "What I miss is doing something to help people."

Does that sound like a former mayor trying to gauge public sentiment about his potential candidacy, or does that sound like a former mayor trying to justify his potential candidacy? Either way Marion Barry is explicit: He wants to be an influence in the 2000 D.C. Council elections whether voters want him to be or not.

The question is: Does anyone else really want a Barry candidacy?

Let's dissect his message even further. Mr. Barry sees himself as a "people person," someone who wants to help people. Just whom does he propose to "help"? Minority contractors? The disfranchised voters who, like Mr. Barry, continue to wail for full congressional voting rights? Senior citizens? Mayor Williams, who can certainly use some help? Himself? Youths who all too frequently are either victims of the District's violent streets or the perpetrators of the same?

Well, all of the above, it seems. Marion Barry is very smart, always making certain he connects to diverse constituencies.

Now consider his win-loss record. D.C. voters have been down the road with Mr. Barry many, many times. Always they gave him the benefit of the doubt and granted him a victory.

When he ran for the School Board, each of the four times he ran for mayor and all but once (in 1992) when he ran for council. Indeed, D.C. voters like Mr. Barry, and they like for him to hold elective office. They know that, Mr. Barry knows that, and Mr. Barry's opponents know that.

In the year's at-large council race, his likely opponent, Democrat Harold Brazil, knows that, too. Mr. Brazil wrote a letter to the editor in response to Mrs. Washington's June 20 column. He reminded (or informed) readers that his council record is "unmatched by any current or potential candidate for the at-large seat." Then he hit Mr. Barry where it ought to really hurt, saying "no one is looking to hit the rewind button to the gloomy past, which is the legacy of the Marion Barry administrations." Unfortunately for Mr. Brazil indeed, unfortunately for the District voters could see it otherwise.

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