- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

A group that calls itself Save Our City has filed papers with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethnics on its intentions to launch a recall of Mayor Tony Williams. If the board gives the go-ahead, petitions will be circulated and signed, the signature-certification process will begin, and voters will vote in November. A nod at the polls would mean voters return to the polls in February to vote for Mr. Williams and whoever else decides to run. But we’re jumping ahead of ourselves, because, to paraphrase Mr. Williams, the recall effort deserves to be “crushed” by concerned voters and Williams supporters.

Recall supporters leveled groundless charges against the mayor — including closing the city’s hospital and underfunding schools. With the exception of the hospital closure, the same accusations were made against previous mayors (and lawmakers), and none was recalled. Tony Williams shouldn’t be either.

We hardly oppose recalling elected leaders when warranted. But Mr. Williams is not only an effective and popular mayor (as was Marion Barry), but he also won handsomely against a popular Republican in 1998 and 2002, winning 66 percent and 61 percent of the vote, respectively.

What seemingly is driving the recall supporters is an attempt to replay — or actually undo — what happened in 2002, when Mr. Williams claimed victory despite the best efforts of the recall supporters and other critics.

The leaders of the D.C. Republican Party and the D.C. Democratic State Committee gave us decisive answers when we asked whether they sanctioned the recall effort. “Absolutely not,” Democratic Chairman Scott Bolden told us. “We have absolutely nothing to do with it,” said Betsy Werronen.

One of the co-chairs of the recall is National Committeewoman Barbara Lett Simmons, who made a splash for herself at the 2000 Democratic convention by refusing to vote for the Gore-Lieberman ticket. Instead, Mrs. Lett Simmons abstained, wasting her vote in a grandstand about the District’s lack of congressional voting rights.

D.C. Democrats need to nip this latest disruptive effort in the bud, since, surely, there are legal and ethical breeches with a national committeewoman launching a recall against the titular head of its party. Do D.C. Democrats really want to spend their summer counting mayoral recall votes, when their Democratic brothers and sisters will be in Boston for the presidential convention? The mayor’s grass-roots supporters must take heed as well: The 2002 race was ugly — and not worth repeating in 2004.

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