Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, voting yesterday morning at Wilkinson Elementary School in Southeast, tried to quiet concerns about his health and vowed on his return to elected office to fight plans to build a baseball stadium.

The 68-year-old Mr. Barry has diabetes and hypertension, but he surprised reporters by jogging out of the school and chiding them for not keeping up with him on his “morning jog.”

Throughout his visits to voting precincts in Ward 8, he seemed assured of victory over Republican challenger Cardell Shelton, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner, for a seat on the City Council.

“I’ll be sworn in January 2,” Mr. Barry told reporters more than 12 hours before the polls closed.

When the ballots were counted, Mr. Barry had won with 95 percent of the votes.

Mr. Barry planned to continue politicking today, with two fund-raisers scheduled in Northwest. The first will be held at 6 p.m. at the home of former council member William Lightfoot. A second is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the New Vegas Lounge at 1415 P St. NW.

Mr. Barry was in good spirits — and about 20 minutes behind schedule — when he showed up yesterday to vote at the Wilkinson gymnasium.

He asked a 12-year-old girl who she had voted for, When she told him she was too young to vote, Mr. Barry said, “Well, if you could, you’d have voted for me, right?”

The girl smiled and nodded yes, while a small crowd gathered around the charismatic former mayor to shake his hand.

Outside the school, Mr. Barry said he plans to fight for better education, reduce crime and create more summer jobs. He also restated his opposition to plans by Mayor Anthony A. Williams to build a stadium along the Anacostia River for the relocated Montreal Expos.

“I’m still fighting against the baseball stadium,” he said.

Mr. Barry said that even if the council approves financing for the new stadium before he takes office, he can still work to defeat the project.

“A lot of votes come in after January,” he said, pledging to block construction contracts for the new stadium.

City law requires the D.C. Council to approve all contracts of more than $1 million.

Mr. Barry and members of his campaign staff were eager to watch a report about his comeback that aired yesterday on NBC-TV’s “Today” show.

The segment, which aired just after 8 a.m., contrasted Mr. Barry’s political resurgence with the scandal that put him in federal prison for six months after a 1990 drug conviction. The broadcast showed footage of the FBI surveillance tape of Mr. Barry being frisked.

In the segment, Mr. Barry said he would not do anything differently in his political life, but he would conduct his personal life differently.

He said his drug conviction was embarrassing for himself and many others, but he added that Ward 8 voters have been forgiving.

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