- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 16, 2000

The results of last Tuesday's D.C. Council primaries have the elected leaders of this city wondering aloud to the media where they went wrong. Is Mayor Williams, who campaigned for Charlene Drew Jarvis, out of touch? Are voters confused about the respective roles of the legislative and the executive branches of government? Well, yes Adrian Fenty's victory proves the mayor is out of touch; and no, the voters are hardly confused. They have said in no uncertain terms since 1990 that they expect each elected official to do his or her job or else.

Voters made that very clear in each ward race. Incumbents in Wards 2, 7 and 8 won handily. Congratulations are handed to Jack Evans, Kevin Chavous and Sandy Allen, council members, who, apparently, have remained in touch with their respective constituencies just in various degrees.

Ward 4 voters, by way of example, rejected Mrs. Jarvis' and Mr. Williams' notions that the 21-year veteran lawmaker deserved another four years. Instead, they granted ANC Commissioner Adrian Fenty, who was endorsed by The Washington Times, an impressive victory in the two-way race. He will have much to prove between now and the Nov. 7 general election.

More importantly, though, are the tough tasks that lie ahead for the executive and legislative branches. First, the council must be more diligent on oversight. That has proved difficult given its committee structure. Most members have said each lawmaker should have a committee, and that probably is a good idea.

There already is preliminary talk about separate health and human services panels, and about separating public safety (police, fire and emergency services) from judicial concerns (corrections and courts). Creating an ethics and special investigations panel might not be a bad idea either. Of course, it is way too early to set anything in stone, but deliberations should begin in earnest.

The next test of the mayor's and the council's political mettle could come between now and the general election as the school board races take center stage. First up: Who's backing whom for the board presidency?

Still, it is to be hoped they all realize that Ward 4 voters weren't merely speaking to Mrs. Jarvis and Mr. Fenty on Tuesday. They spoke on behalf of voters elsewhere in the city, too. That includes voters in Mr. Chavous' and Miss Allen's wards, too who are tired of all the promises that have not been honored.

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