- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

The polls in the District had barely been closed two hours before the outcome crystallized: Voters preferred incumbents. In every major race from mayor to the insignificant shadow congressional representatives Republicans and Democrats held on to their seats. Of those, the most important was the hard-scrabble contest between Mayor Tony Williams and D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz. Both politicians should savor the moment.
The next couple of years could prove difficult for the chief executive and Mrs. Schwartz and other lawmakers as they grapple with deficits, perennial spending habits and deepening divides between the so-called haves and have-nots. Indeed, with Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, fiscal accountability is crucial, as the District tries to prove itself worthy of additional federal funds and budgetary control. While many voters thought Mrs. Schwartz's Republican ties would prove more helpful regarding such matters, the reality is that Mr. Williams' stature as a manager and successes as a financial steward are reassuring to Congress, the business community and, obviously, voters.
Delivering Mr. Williams a victory of 61 percent of the vote compared to her 35 percent, voters practically repeated the mandate they handed these two candidates four years ago, when the final tally was 66 percent vs. 30 percent. And, when you add that victory to the overall incumbent sweep, the voters' message is clear: Things seem just right.
However, things aren't always as they appear through the looking glass. The same politicians whose names were on Tuesday's ballots are responsible for the very fiscal troubles the city now faces. Consequently, it falls to them to straighten things out. Foremost, they must join forces to curb their spending habits paying more attention to where the money goes as opposed to their troublesome proclivity toward focusing on where it comes from. To be sure, two re-election victors, council members David Catania, a Republican, and Democrat Kathy Patterson, should come in handy in that respect, as their supporters aspire to higher offices for both. So will Mrs. Schwartz, who vowed yesterday to do precisely what voters expect her to do "use my seat on the council to serve its people."
For his part, Mr. Williams conceded his ethical and political lapses during his first four years. Regarding his election victory, he said, "You ain't seen nothing yet." For the sake of nation's capital, we certainly hope that he helps to keep the District on the straight and narrow.
Congratulations, Mr. Mayor.


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