Monday, September 4, 2006

When Tony Williams annnounced nearly a year ago that he would not seek a third term as mayor, we were disappointed but not surprised. Mr. Williams had arched his back to carry much of the heavy lifting over the past decade, and he never professed — or even hinted — that he wanted to be Mayor-for-Life. In his announcement last Sept. 29, the mayor said: “[W]e rose up… harnessed the energy of many… abandoned old ideas and ushered in new ones… I want to allow the candidates to make their case to the people as to why they should be elected. I hope that the candidates offer specifics — I hope they put forward concrete ideas about what they would do if they were mayor. People should listen closely. I know I will.”

We promised to listen closely, too, and we did. We heard the mayor endorse Linda Cropp in the Democratic primary, and we listened to the other major candidates.

We heard D.C. Council Chairman Cropp and Council member Adrian Fenty explain why they were running for mayor, and we heard them defend their records. We listened to Council member Vincent Orange, lobbyist Michael Brown and Marie Johns, a former director of Verizon. And we listened in the context of what we expressed in an editorial last month, “The next mayor”: “The next mayor must be willing to reject the status quo and push forward… It’s vitally important that the next mayor be an agent of constructive change.”

While Mrs. Cropp and Mr. Fenty carried out their respective roles as members of the council, Mr. Orange worked with his colleagues, and, more importantly the mayor, to bring to Washington the kinds of development that heretofore were mere proposals on paper that had collected dust in City Hall.

After weighing the merits of would-be agents of “constructive change,” we choose Marie Johns. While the other candidates were throwing barbs at each other or at the Williams administration, we heard Mrs. Johns talk about how a Johns administration would work with the private sector, the faith-based and not-for-profit communities on new educational opportunities, urgently needed government reforms, and important improvements in public and homeland security. She has outlined social service programs that target young unwed mothers and senior citizens.

Mrs. Johns is no Sharon Pratt, who promised to sweep the bureuacracy clean of its deadweight but forgot to take the broom to her perch in City Hall. In fact, Mrs. Johns managed a $700 million telecommunications firm, giving her experiences that set her apart from the other candidates. She is civic-minded; her faith is a light that guides her. That Mrs. Johns is not a member of the status quo, and has deftly moved around in the business and the nonprofit worlds, is all to the good. The Washington Times is pleased to endorse Marie Johns for mayor in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary.

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