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Carol vs. Tony

Schwartz attacks ‘bloated bureaucracy’ as she makes 4th bid for mayor’s office

(Published October 7, 2002)

By KATHRYN SINZINGER

Staff Writer

Four years ago, on the heels of a third defeat, Carol Schwartz vowed she would never again run for mayor.

But the reluctant candidate became a resolute candidate on Sept. 26 when D.C. Republican leaders drafted the longtime council member for a fourth mayoral run.

Now, with little time left to raise the funds necessary to mount a full-fledged campaign for the Nov. 5 election, Schwartz says she’s not just offering voters a credible choice for mayor.

"I’m in this to win," she asserts.

Schwartz acknowledges her candidacy is "an uphill battle" – running against popular incumbent Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who just pulled off a historic and sizable victory as a write-in candidate to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for a second term.

But speaking to a recent gathering of residents in the mayor’s political stronghold, Ward 3, Schwartz was quick to note what she called the mayor’s "lukewarm" support that was exaggerated by the weakness of his primary opponents.

While three other candidates will oppose the mayor on the November ballot – D.C. Statehood Green Party nominee Steve Donkin, independent Tricia Kinch and Socialist Workers Party nominee Sam Manuel – none of those challengers is widely seen as having the name recognition or the political strength to overcome the overwhelming Democratic Party orientation of the District’s registered voters.

Schwartz, though a Republican during her more than 30 years of public service and civic involvement, was greeted by a roomful of yellow, black and white signs and stickers that prominently read "Democrats for Carol" when she arrived at Palisades Recreation Center on Oct. 1. The campaign materials bore the name of Dale Leibach, identified as "a Ward 3 Democrat." Leibach, who was enthusiastically distributing the campaign paraphernalia, also is the husband of Ward 3’s Democratic councilwoman, Kathy Patterson.

"I’ve never been a partisan and I’m not going to start now," Schwartz told the standing-room-only crowd, adding that she has never accepted money from the national Republican Party. "I married a Democrat, I raised three Democrats ... Local politics is not about partisan events. It’s about getting the job done."

The Palisades Citizens Association also invited Mayor Williams to speak, but he sent his regrets due to a schedule conflict. The mayor spent the night with the Woodridge Civic Association in Ward 5 and the Ward 4 Democrats.

"You need to really understand what’s happening," said Schwartz, telling residents they could thank her, as chairman of the city council’s Committee on Public Works, rather than the mayor for providing the funding that has helped improve services like trash pickups and street repairs during Williams’ tenure.

"What else do people say they like about Tony Williams? He’s not Marion Barry," Schwartz said, with many members of her audience nodding in agreement. "Well, guess what, folks – I’m not Marion Barry. And how long can you ride not being Marion Barry?

"He’s worse than Marion Barry when it comes to the bloated bureaucracy," Schwartz said, sounding one of her campaign themes. "There’s something going on here and it’s not about services to people ... it’s about bureaucrats making big money."

Schwartz commended Patterson, her council colleague, for recently requesting and disseminating an analysis of salary data from independent Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Ghandi, which showed ballooning numbers of D.C. government workers in the executive branch who are being paid at the highest salary levels.

She recounted recent closed-door budget negotiations between the mayor and council to find ways to close an expected $323 million shortfall in the fiscal 2003 budget, and criticized the mayor for initially proposing "only a $4 million cut from the bloated bureaucracy" when the council suggested a $29 million reduction.

"The mayor said he could only make it $12 million," she said. "That’s not enough. They’re not touching anybody’s lives – they’re just taking home big paychecks, while we’re having to go and cut the budget for schools and services to our neediest residents."

Sounding another campaign theme, Schwartz said the D.C. government "can take care of business while taking care of people, too. It can be done."

Schwartz is trumpeting her "demonstrated record of fighting for the rights of all our people ... fighting for good government, for honesty, for compassion and for competence in the public life of this city long before it became fashionable to do so."

"Please give me a chance," she asked Palisades residents. "I’m tired of being a bridesmaid and never the bride."

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator