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Campaigns try to oust the mayor

(Published March 12, 2001)

By PATRICE DICKENS

Staff Writer

Two recall efforts have been launched against D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, one languishing since last October and the other launched this month over what its chief proponent alleges is the mayor’s "total disrespect to the community."

Capitol Hill resident David Barrows said the mayor’s plan to essentially close D.C. General Hospital motivated his new recall effort, though his formal petition for recall cites five separate issues as reasons the mayor should be removed from office before the end of his term.

D.C. law allows voters to recall elected officials, but it prohibits a recall effort during the first or last year of an official’s term. That means any recall campaign against the mayor would have to be completed by the end of this year, since Williams is currently serving the third year of his four-year term.

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on March 5 gave Barrows’ recall effort the legal green light to proceed. Barrows must collect 35,597 signatures of registered D.C. voters by Sept. 4 to force an election at which voters would decide whether the mayor should retain his office and complete his term. If Barrows fails to collect the required number of valid signatures by that deadline, the recall effort dies.

Ward 8 resident Cardell Shelton’s recall effort, begun last fall, is facing an April 18 deadline to collect the required number of signatures. Shelton said that as of March 8 he had collected only 10,000-12,000 signatures of voters who support his petition.

Barrows’ petition for recall alleges that Mayor Williams:

--"took the lead in the effort to disenfranchise the electorate by dismantling our fully elected D.C. Board of Education;"

--"continues imposing plans to build a baseball stadium in a Ward 6 neighborhood that does not want it;"

--"has begun mass evictions in Columbia Heights upon completion of the Metro stop;"

--has consistently worked to under-fund the University of the District of Columbia" and sought to remove UDC from its Connecticut Avenue NW campus contrary to its federal land grant;

--"has strived to close D.C. General...(and) to re-direct patients to a hospital with no capacity for trauma treatment and with no inherent mandate to provide care to all people regardless of ability to pay."

Shelton’s recall petition cites a laundry list of allegations against the mayor, including "continued funding to corrupt community development corporations that exploit, misuse and mismanage tax dollars" and "let(ting) unions, big businesses and banks control our city."

Also among Shelton’s allegations are that the mayor has provided "no help for the homeless," "no affordable new housing" for low-income families and a lack of contracting and employment-related opportunities for the black community. Shelton’s petition says the mayor "made promises to the citizens, which he has not kept."

In his response to the recall petitions, Mayor Williams said he "will continue to work for the betterment of all" citizens and neighborhoods. In both responses he cited some of his accomplishments in office, including the fact that "unemployment among African Americans and other groups in the District is at its lowest level in a decade, and in the first year of my administration, we more than doubled contracting to local, small, and disadvantaged businesses."

On D.C. General, the mayor said "the financial and management crisis" at the hospital "forced us to provide a health care system that works for all individuals and families. Every person in this city should have access to preventative health care in their neighborhoods and other inpatient, specialty and emergency services nearby, whether or not they have health insurance."

The mayor said D.C. residents "deserve the best city in America" and he has "committed this government’s resources with the cooperation and input of all our citizens."

Copyright © 2001 The Common Denominator