- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2002

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday sought to avert criticism that he had a detached attitude about politicking by campaigning from dawn to dusk and beyond on the weekend before the primary election.
Mr. Williams appeared at churches, barbecues and city festivals across the city. At a nondenominational church, Faith Temple in Northwest, he walked a gauntlet of hugs. Looking tired and relaxed, he quietly asked for the congregants' support.
"You can get up in the morning with a headache. You can get up in the morning with a backache. You can get up in the morning, and the car won't start. You can get up one morning, and you are not on the ballot," the mayor said. "The fact is, just getting up in the morning is a blessing I have learned not to take anything for granted."
Mr. Williams, whose name was kept off tomorrow's Democratic primary ballot because of forgeries on his nominating petitions, is seeking re-election as a write-in candidate.
He said he has been campaigning 15 hours a day, zigzagging around the city to convince voters he is interested, engaged and committed to all.
"It's grueling and fulfilling," Mr. Williams said of his campaign schedule. "And I am convinced I am going to succeed."
Some well-wishers on his brief stops echoed his optimism.
"He makes great decisions," said Stephanie Johnson, who lives in Ward 1. "And he has held up to what he said he was going to do. He makes a great mayor."
However, the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast and Mr. Williams' key write-in rival, expressed optimism about his own chances for becoming mayor and excitement about his equally busy campaign schedule.
Mr. Wilson shot around the city yesterday to attend cookouts, church gatherings and restaurant events in Northwest, Northeast and Southeast. Everywhere he went, residents turned out for handshakes, hugs and impromptu photo sessions.
"I am exhausted, but the people are energizing me," Mr. Wilson said as he stopped by the Knox Hill reunion cookout in Anacostia. "The people know they have a choice, and now they have hope to elect a mayor that will listen to them, care about them. That is why I am going to win."
Many Southeast residents at one Wilson campaign stop said they would support the Baptist pastor tomorrow because he isn't Mr. Williams. Southeast is Mr. Wilson's base of support, as well as that of former Mayor Marion Barry, who has endorsed Mr. Wilson.
"We need new leadership," said Robert Belton, 42, of Southeast. "[Mr. Williams] closed down D.C. General, which should have been a priority. Now we don't have a public hospital."
Others were less certain about whom they would vote for tomorrow but said it would not be Mr. Williams.
"I always vote," said Willie Norman, a retired government employee. "I have to think about whom I will choose. But I am happy to listen to them all."
Less visible yesterday were the Democratic challengers whose names will appear on the ballot: James W. Clark, Osie L.Thorpe, the Rev. Douglas E. Moore and Faith.
Mr. Wilson has presented himself as an antidote to Mr. Williams, seeking to attract the votes of those who feel ignored or disenfranchised by the Williams administration.
Meanwhile, Mr. Williams has stressed that he is engaged in the lives of all residents and shares one vision for them all.
"It isn't a question of a black thing to do or a white thing to do," he said. "It is a question of the right thing to do."


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