- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams is widely expected to announce today that he will not seek a third term.

“That is my understanding,” said council member Jim Graham, though the Ward 1 Democrat, like other council officials contacted by The Washington Times, said he has not spoken face to face with the mayor about the decision.

Mr. Graham was one of several local politicians and City Hall insiders who predicted yesterday that the mayor would announce his political plans today during a scheduled noon appearance at Hillcrest Recreation Center in Southeast.

Neither the mayor nor his staff members would comment on the speculation about today’s announcement.

At his weekly press briefing yesterday, reporters peppered the twice-elected Democrat with questions about his future, but Mr. Williams remained noncommittal.

“I said you will know early fall, you will know early fall,” he said. “That’s all I am going to say.”

Last Thursday was the first day of autumn.

And although many close to the mayor had nothing to say — spokesman Vincent Morris declined to comment on the mayor’s appearance today — others hinted that the location of today’s appearance was significant.

Paul E. Savage, a former president of the Hillcrest Community Civic Association who served as campaign chairman when Mr. Williams first ran in 1998, is scheduled to introduce the mayor today. He said he did not know what his old boss would say, but he expects news.

“I would expect that the mayor will make some kind of announcement,” he said, adding that Mr. Williams announced his candidacy for the District’s top post at the same location almost seven years ago.

The mayor’s decision has been awaited for months by a growing field of would-be successors, each eager to lay claim to a share of Williams staffers, supporters, and — most importantly — contributors.

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp and council members Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, and Vincent B. Orange Sr., Ward 5 Democrat, are vying for the Democratic mayoral nomination, as is former Verizon Chief Executive Officer Marie Johns.

Council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat and former mayor, has said he has no plans to run and has not endorsed any candidate.

Brushing aside questions about how lame-duck status might undermine his agenda in the remaining 15 months of his term, Mr. Williams outlined his priorities for the coming year — a list topped by plans to build a regional medical facility on the site of the old D.C. General Hospital.

Mr. Williams said he wants the city to fund half the $400 million construction of the National Capital Medical Center. The hospital would be owned and operated by Howard University.

He also said he plans to prioritize construction of a major league ballpark for the Washington Nationals along the Anacostia Waterfront.

Mr. Williams said the speculation over whether he would run again will have little effect on his legislative agenda.

“Mark my words, by and large, this agenda will be fulfilled by the end of the year,” he said. “I do believe that. … Because they are good things. The public believes they are good things. And regardless of politics, people will support them.”

Among the mayor’s priorities:

• The Omnibus Public Safety Act, which requests approval for legislation strengthening penalties for crimes against children and the elderly.

• The construction of a Central Library at the former convention center site.

• The New Communities Financing proposal, a $60 million community rebuilding plan.

• The Way to Work Act, which would establish a living wage, strengthen local hiring requirements and establish a job opportunity bank to provide training.

• The formation of a department of environment by November.

• The sale or long-term lease of five surplus schools — Bruce, Crummell, Keene, Old Congress Heights and Langston/Slater.

• The approval of a financing plan for the construction of a new mental health hospital on the grounds of St. Elizabeths.

• The approval of Headquarters Hotel Financing, a plan to develop a hotel on Ninth Street, adjacent to the new convention center.

Matthew Cella contributed to this report.

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