- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2006

D.C. City Administrator Robert C. Bobb said yesterday that he will leave his position to run for president of the D.C. Board of Education.

Mr. Bobb, 61, said that he will pick up his petitions today to put his name on the November ballot and that he will resign from the city manager’s post within weeks.

“It’s going to be difficult to launch a campaign and still serve, so over some period of weeks I’ll have to transition from my current position to something else,” Mr. Bobb told The Washington Times.

Mr. Bobb’s announcement ends months of speculation about his political future. He repeatedly had dismissed reports that he would run for mayor or chairman of the D.C. Council.

The decision to run for school board has been in the works for several months, he said.

“It’s more than an interest — it’s a passion,” Mr. Bobb said. “The final decision to take this giant leap has been in motion for quite some time.”

Mr. Bobb said that after he resigns, he will volunteer to help Mayor Anthony A. Williams with city programs.

“I would absolutely volunteer my services to help the District in any way I can because I’ve been working on a number of projects with the mayor,” he said.

Mr. Bobb, who collects a $195,000 annual salary as city administrator, said he would not seek to continue in his position as a government contractor after he resigns.

“That’s not in the cards, not at all,” he said.

His background as a city manager and experience running many of Mr. Williams’ major initiatives, including programs to revitalize the public housing developments and major streets, qualify him for the position, he said.

“I certainly bring a very strong background in urban management. I understand the issues of urban government,” he said. “I understand the fact that you can’t have a quality city without quality education and quality schools, and so I’m familiar with the issues.”

Mr. Bobb said he views eduction in the District as a civil rights issue.

“We have to focus like a laser beam at improving student achievement and reducing the gap between students of color and others,” he said.

Mr. Bobb’s candidacy pits two former high-ranking appointees of Mr. Williams against each other for the school board’s top spot.

Carolyn Graham, who is a candidate for the post and a former deputy mayor for children, youth, family and elders under Mr. Williams, said yesterday she wasn’t worried about Mr. Bobb’s candidacy.

“I’m not concerned about anybody else running,” said Miss Graham, who has served as the school board’s vice president and works as an executive at Greater Southeast Community Hospital.

“I’m running for the school board presidency, not against anybody,” she said. “I’m running because I understand the needs of children in the community.”

Mr. Bobb started as city manager in the District in October 2003 and forged a reputation for pushing for reforms in troubled agencies.

However, Mr. Bobb also came under scrutiny by the Office of the D.C. Auditor for several contracting decisions, including no-bid deals with former associates from his previous job in Oakland, Calif., where he also served as city administrator.

In addition, he was the lead negotiator for the District in a proposed joint venture with Howard University to build a new hospital in Southeast, but the negotiations faltered when Mr. Williams withdrew his support earlier this year.

• Jim McElhatton contributed to this report.

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