News & Politics

Handing Off the District

Five things Vince Gray should do when he becomes mayor and five Adrian Fenty should cross off his list before he leaves office

Tuesday’s results were no real surprise to anyone who kept a close eye on DC’s mayoral race. But as Adrian Fenty hands off the District to Vince Gray, here are five suggestions for each man about how to make the city a better place.

Vince Gray's First Five Moves as Mayor

1. Beg Allen Lew to stay. The school-modernization boss has made school buildings safe and secure for students in every DC neighborhood. He’s fixed roofs and bathrooms, built new schools, and renovated decrepit ones. He and his team are the best thing the city has going for it. While you’re at it, ask Kaya Henderson to stay, too. Michelle Rhee’s top deputy could bridge the chasm between school reformers and the Old Guard.

2. Show up at police roll calls. Surprise cops in all the districts by simply attending a few roll calls, especially at night. Show up at shootings. Bring union boss Kristopher Baumann along.

3. Keep Fenty’s best agency heads. We know schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is a short-timer, but Fenty has hired some stellar people. Department of Public Works chief Bill Howland has been around since the Anthony Williams administration. Keep him. Lucinda Babers has run Department of Motor Vehicles with a firm hand and made it work for residents. Transportation chief Gabe Klein is unorthodox but effective. Clarence Carter has done well at human services. The list goes on. And when you hire, make sure at least half are under 40. Okay—50.

4. Stand tall on taxis. Taxi drivers and their backers will pressure you to turn back to the zoned system. Reject them.

5. Hire Adrian Fenty as city administrator. He was a disaster as a politician, but he ran the city government well.

Adrian Fenty's Last Five Moves as Mayor

1. Embed the best bureaucrats. See number 3 above. The best deputies and senior staff at all agencies need to be protected from Gray’s political hacks.

2. Build or renovate two recreation centers a month for your last three months in office. Your legacy will be fields and facilities all over town where kids can go and play, rather than hang out and get in trouble.

3. Put pending development projects on fast track. Use debt or tax relief to grease these five projects: the Southwest Waterfront, McMillan Reservoir, Skyland Mall in Ward 7, a convention-center hotel, the United Negro College Fund Headquarters in Shaw.

4. Hold press conferences. Reverse course on your policy of never inviting reporters to grill you on general topics; leave the press with a sense of openness.

5. Apologize for being an arrogant ass, and say you’ll do a better job next time. In case there is one.