- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2000

Adrian Fenty knows all about running long distances and that drive helped him pull off an upset victory in the District's Ward 4 primary Tuesday over longtime D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis.

The 29-year-old lawyer, advisory neighborhood commissioner and marathon runner beat Mrs. Jarvis at the tape by running a community-based campaign and constantly staying in view of Ward 4 voters. Mr. Fenty's determination helped him oust the council member who had held elective office longer 21 years than anyone in D.C. history.

"I think that [voters] were touched by a new generation of people that wanted to get involved in politics," Mr. Fenty said. "The voters really like seeing their elected officials."

Throughout the campaign, Ward 4 residents told the council candidate that they wanted safer streets, better school and development in their neighborhoods.

"We're going to go out and advocate for much better service delivery," Mr. Fenty said. "The voters want to be a part of the political process.

"They want to know what's happening, up front."

Marathons run in the Fenty family the fall candidate's father, Phil Fenty, is a triathlete and Adrian Fenty said the love and energy for endurance sports was a key to his successful bid.

"He's very determined. He won't stop. He won't quit," said Roger Reddock, 31, a friend since high school. "He's got great stamina."

The pair ran track together at Mackin Catholic High School where Mr. Fenty was a distance runner and competed in his first two marathons. From the earliest days of the campaign, friends and supporters would get 6 a.m. phone calls from Mr. Fenty, saying it was time to hit the streets.

Stamina translated into votes.

Mr. Fenty was omnipresent in the ward and he garnered 7,859 votes (57 percent) to Mrs. Jarvis' 5,905 votes (43 percent).

"The one thing I was sure about was he has the motivation and the hustle," said Earl C. Horton III, a lawyer and 12-year friend from Mr. Fenty's Oberlin College days.

"If you ever look at his eyes … he has that look on his face," Mr. Horton said. "He's a pretty motivated brother."

Mr. Fenty also is president of the 16th Street Neighborhood Civic Association, and former lead staffer and counsel to the council's education committee, headed by Ward 7 Democrat Kevin Chavous. Mr. Fenty worked there for 16 months before resigning to campaign.

"I learned the legislative function of the council. I learned the budget oversight process," Mr. Fenty said, adding that knowledge can only be learned from working inside the council.

Mr. Fenty was encouraged by the "young Turks" of the council including Mr. Chavous who were first elected on quality-of-life issues in the early 1990s.

"Adrian Fenty served ably as a committee clerk it served as a launching board for him to serve in his [new] role," said Willie Lynch, Mr. Chavous' chief of staff. "The council member looks forward to working with Adrian."

The primary winner remembered how knocking on doors and being visible across the ward had paid off for Mr. Chavous in defeating longtime council member H.R. Crawford in 1992.

"We followed a similar script do whatever it takes," Mr. Fenty said.

Already, support is coming in from city leaders, including Mayor Anthony A. Williams, on issues of housing, public safety and development, specifically Georgia Avenue. Although Mr. Williams pushed for Mrs. Jarvis to retain her seat, but said yesterday he would back Mr. Fenty in November.

"Adrian Fenty has won, he ran a great campaign," Mr. Williams said. "He's someone to be taken seriously and I take him very, very seriously."

In the overwhelmingly Democratic city, the party's primary victor traditionally wins the general election. In the November general election Mr. Fenty will be on the ballot against Renee Bowser of the Statehood Green Party. No one ran in the Republican primary.

Even the woman he defeated acknowledged the energy and determination of Mr. Fenty's campaign.

"I want to offer my heartiest congratulations to Adrian Fenty," Mrs. Jarvis said. "His hard work and persistence paid off.

"I am confident Adrian's experience as an ANC commissioner in constituent service duties will serve him well as Ward 4 council member."

Mrs. Jarvis, whose full-time job is president of Southeastern University, has guided all aspects of economic development since 1981 on behalf of the council, including banking and housing.

She was first elected to the council in 1979 in a special election to complete the term of Arrington Dixon, who had become council chairman. Although she held elective office longer than anyone in D.C. history, she failed in three mayoral bids.

"I am most proud that the citizens of Ward 4 gave me the opportunity to become a leader in economic development for the city and for the region," Mrs. Jarvis said.

She also recalled her leadership during the city's fiscal crisis, as she headed the council.

"I led the council through the shoals of a balanced budget one of four necessary for the [D.C. financial] control board to go into quiescence."

Now, Mrs. Jarvis must face her retreat from service to the city. She plans to remain at the university and expects to play a much larger role in higher education.

With Mrs. Jarvis' defeat, the council will lose a great deal of institutional knowledge about economic development. Supporters from around the city are concerned about the future of community-based development.

"It's as if we now have to rewrite the history of economic development in [the District]," said community rights activist Lawrence Guyot.

"Rather than write her political obituary, we should look where she can be the most helpful," he said.

But the defeated incumbent is confident that the city's tax incentives will continue to move business into business improvement districts as well as downtown.

"Fortunately, we've put policies in place that will guide economic development over the next decade," Mrs. Jarvis said.

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