- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2002

Four of the five D.C. mayoral candidates on the Nov. 5 general election ballot faced off for the first time yesterday in a debate that focused mainly on public schools, health care and affordable housing.
The two front-runners, Mayor Anthony A. Williams, Democrat, and D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, agreed on many issues including the funding increases in D.C. public schools and improvements that have been made by the Williams administration. But the two repeatedly bumped heads on the size of city government
Mr. Williams, 51, said that if elected funding public schools and youth programs would be his No. 1 priority.
"My only regret, if I should not win a second term, I regret mostly my inability to transform the public education system for our city," Mr. Williams said.
He said that he was proud of his record of providing more funding to schools, mental health, youth services and affordable housing than any other programs.
Mrs. Schwartz, 60, argued that the bloated bureaucracy has not decreased by 10,000 jobs, as Mr. Williams has said. She said that the number of D.C. employees with full-time equivalency has decreased by a few hundred.
"We have cut $213 million out of the city government, and that is the real issue," Mr. Williams countered, emphasizing that the number of employees wasn't important, but the amount of spending was.
The debate, sponsored by Channel 32 (WHUT-TV) and American University's WAMU Radio (88.1-FM), was held yesterday in Howard University's television studios.
Mrs. Schwartz, Statehood-Green candidate Steve Donkin and independent Tricia Kinch attacked the mayor on the status of public health care and the free pass he has given to the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission.
"We are paying more money to serve less people under the health care alliance," Mrs. Schwartz said, "A report from the D.C. Inspector General showed that [the alliance] was serving 4,000 who were not even eligible."
She said that she wanted to see an "upgraded" public hospital in the city and pointed out that the mayor closed D.C. General Hospital despite a unanimous decision from the council to keep it open.
Miss Kinch, 49, said that opening a full-service public hospital would be one of her priorities.
"When I collected signatures to get on the ballot this summer the most important issue residents opposed was the closure of D.C. General," Miss Kinch said.
Mr. Donkin, 41, a science teacher working for the D.C. public schools, said that he also wanted to see the health care system revert to public hospitals.
But he said his No. 1 priority would be to refocus the city government's agenda to lowering taxes for the poor "making the rich pay their fair share" getting the full federal payment and stopping government subsidies for events such as the Olympic bid, baseball and the Grand Prix race.
There was little discussion about Mr. Williams' petition scandal this summer and none about his fund-raising scandal.
Mrs. Schwartz, waging her fourth attempt to capture the District's highest political office, has put on a strong campaign since accepting her party's nomination late last month.
She received endorsements from the InTowner and the Northwest Current community newspapers covering Ward 3 issues in upper Northwest.

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