- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The two front-runners in the race for D.C. mayor have disagreed on the Washington Nationals baseball stadium, law enforcement and higher salaries for city government workers, the D.C. Council’s voting record shows.

Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat, trails council member Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, in their race to succeed Mayor Anthony A. Williams. The Democratic primary Tuesday likely will decide the outcome.

Both lawmakers are running on their records and distinguishing themselves by their leadership styles as they take similar positions on education, economic development and other key issues.

Since Mr. Fenty was elected in 2000, the D.C. Council has voted on about 3,000 bills, resolutions and declarations. Of those, Mrs. Cropp and Mr. Fenty have cast opposing votes 103 times, the voting record shows.

Among 92 legislative items for which Mrs. Cropp voted “yes” and Mr. Fenty voted “no”:

• 14 were for building the baseball stadium in Southeast.

• 17 were for personnel issues such as providing higher salaries for city officials, including Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and City Administrator Robert C. Bobb.

• 11 were for increasing law enforcement, including a 2003 bill that allowed police surveillance cameras downtown and a recent emergency anti-crime bill that authorizes similar cameras in neighborhoods.

The 13-member council, which Mrs. Cropp has led since 1997, has approved most of the legislation Mr. Fenty opposed.

Among 11 bills and resolutions for which Mr. Fenty voted “yes” and Mrs. Cropp voted “no,” two were for alternative plans for the baseball stadium, four dealt with property-tax exemptions and one was related to law enforcement.

The council passed the four property-tax exemption measures that Mrs. Cropp opposed.

The voting record shows that Mr. Fenty and Mrs. Cropp have taken similar stances on education, taxes and affordable-housing issues.

Last year, they co-sponsored a bill that would have removed emergency medical services (EMS) from the purview of the fire department and created a separate service. The measure, which has been offered several times, died in the Committee on the Judiciary.

During her mayoral campaign, Mrs. Cropp changed her position on the EMS bill. She now says she opposes a new service and instead wants to enforce cross-training regulations for EMS and the fire department.

“I have signed on to looking at separating them a while ago; however, the more I look into this, I think it’s probably more effective for us to really have a cross-trained force,” she said. “If you look in other cities, it works. The problem is ours have never really been implemented.”

Cropp campaign ads have criticized Mr. Fenty’s votes against free textbooks for children and emergency funding for the police department to oversee school security.

“Giving textbooks to kids is not something that needs new legislation but something that needs better management,” Mr. Fenty said. “As far as security, I don’t think the police department needs to be in charge of school security. I think the school system needs to do it themselves. The police department has enough to do without monitoring the schools.”

Mrs. Cropp was elected to the council in 1990 and won the chairmanship in a 1997 special election. Before joining the council, she served on the D.C. Board of Education as a member and as president.

During her tenure, she has participated in the creation of the D.C. Department of Health and in sending Congress a string of balanced budgets, which she sees as one of her crowning achievements.

“People are asking the question: ‘Who is best prepared to be the next mayor of the District of Columbia?’” Mrs. Cropp said during a debate last week. “I’ve proven leadership and I’ve proven the experience, as folks clearly understand that I have the capacity to make it happen.”

Mrs. Cropp’s role in bringing the Washington Nationals to the District gained attention. She was instrumental in establishing the baseball stadium’s $611 million spending cap, which opponents speculate might not hold because of projected cost overruns.

As a council freshman, Mr. Fenty shed light onto the poor conditions of the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services’ (DYRS) Oak Hill Youth Center and misspending at the University of the District of Columbia.

After his 2004 re-election, Mr. Fenty was made chairman of the Committee on Human Services, which oversees DYRS, the D.C. Child and Family Services Administration and the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration.

“During my two terms on the city council, I stood out as someone who really understands that residents want to see this city run as a business,” he said during a debate last week. “As people look to this election, it’s no surprise that if they’re looking for someone who has got more follow-through, more attention to detail, they’re turning to my campaign.”

Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr., who represents Ward 5, also is seeking the Democratic mayoral nomination.

Mr. Orange, elected in 1998, is running on his council record of bringing big business into his ward while furthering economic development across the city.

Early this year, Mr. Orange and city officials broke ground on a major expansion to the Giant Food Inc. supermarket off Rhode Island Avenue Northeast. Mr. Orange also has been an advocate for small and minority-owned businesses.

Mr. Orange voted for the baseball stadium deal and the emergency crime legislation. He has been chairman of the council’s Committee on Government Operations since 2001.

Former Verizon executive Marie C. Johns and lobbyist Michael A. Brown also are seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor. Neither has held public office.

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