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Ambrose facing recall effort
(Published January 24, 2005)

Staff Writer

A group accusing Ward 6 Councilwoman Sharon Ambrose of disenfranchising her constituents and being absent in the community has filed a notice of intent to recall her. The group says Ambrose failed to act in the best interest of her ward on issues such as last year's drinking water problems and by supporting the new baseball stadium to be built in her ward.

Mary C. Williams, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 6 and chairman of the Committee to Recall Sharon Ambrose, submitted the recall notice Jan. 12 to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. The board has scheduled a special meeting Jan. 24 to consider the committee's petition. If approved, the committee will begin collecting signatures to recall the councilwoman, which could result in a special election.

"She is successful at ignoring a majority of residents and supporting costly commercial developments that have an adverse impact on neighborhoods," Williams wrote in the notice.

Ambrose's written response to the recall notice, filed with the elections board on Jan. 21, cites her accomplishments as Ward 6 councilwoman, including the "87 bills" she introduced and her work "with the Housing Authority to structure new housing opportunities at Kentucky Courts" and to help "develop the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation to provide a mix of home ownership and commercial opportunities."

Ambrose did not respond by press time to messages left at her office seeking comment.

Williams has called the councilwoman "unresponsive" to community needs and is one of at least two ANC commissioners from Ward 6 who refused to be sworn in by Ambrose at a Jan. 2 ceremony at the Washington Convention Center, calling it a "symbolic gesture."

In her written response to the elections board, Ambrose said she attends "one or two" weekly evening and weekend events in Ward 6, contrary to Williams' claim that she has failed to attend community meetings.

Williams further contends in the recall notice that Ambrose fails to "vote constituents' wishes, effectively disenfranchising residents who elected her to office. She cites her illness for absences, yet she traveled to China during critical stadium discussions."

Ambrose was among city council members who voted to approve a baseball stadium financing plan estimated to cost between $440 million and $600 million, after land acquisition and infrastructure costs are factored in. The stadium, to be used by the Washington Nationals when completed, is to be built near South Capitol and M Streets in Ambrose's ward.

The recall notice cites Ambrose's support of the stadium deal as an example of her voting against the will of her constituents, but Ambrose contends that, despite her support of Major League Baseball returning to the District after a 33-year absence, she had the interests of her constituency in mind when she "argued persuasively that [the site of Robert F. Kennedy Stadium] was not the right site for the new baseball stadium because it would disrupt the community." RFK Satdium also is located in Ward 6.

According to information supplied by the elections board, Williams and her committee would have 180 days from the date of Ambrose's response to circulate a petition and collect signatures from at least 10 percent of Ward 6 voters, if the board approves the petition language. If the effort succeeds in gathering the required signatures, a special recall election will take place, in which Ward 6 voters would cast ballots "for" or "against" the removal of the elected official.

Copyright 2005 The Common Denominator