- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams made it official yesterday, nixing a run for a third term and telling supporters in a crowded Southeast recreation center that he hopes his announcement, 15 months before his term ends, brings clarity to a muddied — and already crowded — upcoming mayor’s race.

“People say: ‘Why now?’ I felt strongly that it was unfair to the people of this city to begin the political process so early,” said Mr. Williams. “But I also don’t want my future plans to cloud the landscape, especially the political landscape, of our city.”

The mayor’s decision not to seek the Democratic nomination ends months of speculation that he would not run against as many as five contenders — including three formidable council members — who have already announced plans to take his place.

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 all declared candidates for the top job, as is former Verizon Chief Executive Officer Marie Johns and lobbyist Michael Brown.

Mr. Fenty, considered an early favorite by many, said if elected, he would hire many of the Mr. Williams’ staffers.

“We are going to develop a high quality work force and that includes people that are already in the administration that are doing a good job,” said Mr. Fenty, who also plans to continue going after Mr. Williams’ supporters.

Mrs. Cropp, who is expected to challenge Mr. Fenty for the support of the mayor’s staffers, contributors and volunteers, said she is already putting together her legislative priorities for the District.

“I welcome Williams supporters who share my vision for the future of the city,” she said.

Mr. Orange said he would “take the District to another level.”

Mr. Williams, who is credited with spearheading the economic revitalization of the District and bringing Major League Baseball back to the city, said he will not officially endorse any candidate until next year.

He made the announcement at the Hillcrest Recreation Center in Southeast, flanked by his wife, Diane, daughter Asantewa, and his mother, Virginia. He launched his first City Hall bid seven years ago in the same room.

“I will not seek re-election to a third term as mayor of our nation’s capital,” he told more than 300 supporters. “It’s time for me to begin a new chapter in my life and to look for new challenges.”

The announcement was met with chants of “four more years.”

Bill Dorsey, 62, a Hillcrest resident and a self-described “strong supporter,” said he is “very sad to see him leave.”

“I think he has brought this city a long way,” he said. “When I go back to the other administrations when he came in the city was in bad shape. … The city was just in a corrupt state, But look at it today. You can tell the difference in what he has done.”

Cabinet members facing an uncertain future were more somber.

“I am disappointed because I was hoping that he would actually stay for a third term,” said Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who learned of Mr. Williams’ decision through the press. “He has done a very, very good job but I also understand [how] he feels at this point in time. He wants to move on and I respect that.”

The mayor’s wife, who rarely speaks to reporters, said she had little advance notice.

“He had to make his own decision,” Mrs. Williams said. “I know a lot of people were saying that I was the force behind it. I was not.”

Under Mr. Williams’ leadership the District’s homicide rate last year fell to an 18-year low. To date, the city has had seven fewer killings this year than last.

Mr. Williams said that serving as president of the National League of Cities, which contributed to him sometimes coming under criticism for being out of the city more than he was in it, was worth it.

“As your mayor, I have led the city … to the threshold of real greatness,” he told the crowd. “I believe that I have gotten us to the point to where we have opened the door, and prepared this city to walk through that door. But I have to come to tell you today that I will not be the one to lead you through that door.”

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