- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Mayor Anthony A. Williams merits a third term in office after reinvigorating a city stuck in the bureaucratic bloat and malaise of the Marion Barry years and the forgettable one term of Sharon Pratt Kelly.

The Bow-Tied One has a cadre of critics who inevitably cite his cool and distant political manner, his failure to fix the public school system and his seeming indifference to the poor and blue-collar.

Of course, a short memory is politically useful, and it is easy to forget where the District was in the ‘90s, as a place that had lost so much of its panache because of high taxes, high crime rates and spotty public services.

The Bow-Tied One has implemented the conditions that have made the city relevant again, if not the place to live again.

The construction crane has become something of the unofficial city bird, as fashionable offices and high-priced condominiums rise out of the ground at an impressive rate.

All across the city, homeowners are flush with cash because of the ever-rising equity in their dwellings, and likewise, city coffers are flush as well because of increasing property assessments that result in larger tax bills.

Long-forgotten neighborhoods are being transformed, as the druggies, street urchins and prostitutes are swept up or pushed out. The painted women who used to work the stretch of asphalt from Thomas Circle to Logan Circle are a memory of a bygone era, and the homeowners of the stately Victorian row houses there can only shout in glee.

You see this rebirth happening in neighborhoods all across the city, and it is a rebirth that owes itself in part to the Bow-Tied One, a number-crunching sort who respects the power of the bottom line.

This is not to suggest this space agrees with every position of the Bow-Tied One. His heavy-handed support of eminent domain in the fully leased Skyland Shopping Center in Southeast leaves one especially cold, no matter how much the Hillcrest community leaders embrace the notion of a big-box retailer and a sit-down restaurant.

Theirs is a risk-free position, for it is not their livelihood hanging in the balance, and it is the city that will be stuck with the debt if the vision exceeds the demographic reality.

The strategy fanning the Skyland undertaking is obvious, as Southeast becomes the so-called new frontier of the city, from the proposed ballpark on one side of the Anacostia River to the proposed soccer stadium on the other side.

It is easy to trivialize the Bow-Tied One’s closed-door maneuverings with Major League Baseball that led to the securing of a team and the first Opening Day in the city in 34 years.

Mr. Barry, despite his non-friendly position on baseball today, tried forever to land a baseball team. It was said it could not be done. In fact, it was said it could not be done right up until the Bow-Tied One received the good news from baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and then weathered the political gambit of D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp.

A baseball team is a potent political legacy for the Bow-Tied One, far better than his attempt to secure the 2012 Summer Olympics, and it’s his name that goes on the short list when it comes time to name the new ballpark.

The Bow-Tied One has been coy on the subject of seeking a third mayoral term next year. He says he has made the decision. He just has not elected to reveal it yet.

No doubt, if the Bow-Tied One does run, it will be a race fraught with ugliness, if only because seemingly half the residents of the city have formed exploratory committees seeking contributions from donors.

The Bow-Tied One is not overjoyed with the prospect of a grueling campaign. In the heat of an election year, he will be accused of all sorts of political crimes against humanity.

But here is the rub for those seeking the Bow-Tied One’s office: The city is being revitalized under his watch, no small achievement.

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