Gray: “Only If We All Work Together Can We Move This City Forward”
The District's all-but-certain next mayor, Vincent Gray, just gave a victory speech at his election night party (a mere six hours after the polls closed). Gray reached out rhetorically to supporters of Adrian Fenty's, and pushed back against anyone who might try to spin his win as a defeat for progress in the District.
"Let me say this to those who say you can't have both collaboration and reform, that they are mutually exclusive," he said. "I say, 'You are wrong!' ... Make no mistake, school reform will move forward in a Gray administration." But he said that would happen with a DCPS chancellor who "works with parents and teachers," which probably means it won't be Michelle Rhee (who spent Tuesday campaigning for Fenty). Gray's supporters, especially the teachers' union, don't generally think Rhee fits that bill.
The speech did do a nice job of encapsulating Gray's message—that Fenty had failed to bring the city together behind his reform agenda, and that Gray would reach out more. "We all need to step up to the plate to solve our collective challenges," Gray said. "After all, this is one city, right? When high unemployment ravages Ward 8, the effects are also felt in Ward 3. When some of our students fall behind, the entire community feels it. When senseless violence claims a victim in one neighborhood, none of our families feel safe."
The ballroom where Gray celebrated had a throwback feel at times; Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry held court in the hotel lobby for hours, greeting well-wishers, and former D.C. government stalwarts Fenty had gone out of his way to discard—like lawyer Fred Cooke, a Barry pal—mingled in the crowd. But Gray was gracious toward Fenty, thanking him for his service (and drawing boos from the crowd for his trouble). And he asked Fenty's supporters not to sulk.
"Hold us accountable, question us, and demand transparency from every one of us in a Gray administration," he said. "We'll work hard to make sure we don't disappoint you. All I ask in return is this: Don't sit on the sidelines, be involved. Because only if we all work together can we move this city forward."
Fenty was the only incumbent to lose his job Tuesday. Other winners of primaries: Kwame Brown for D.C. Council chairman; Phil Mendelson for Council at-large; Jim Graham in Ward 1; Mary Cheh in Ward 3; Harry Thomas Jr. in Ward 5; Tommy Wells in Ward 6; Eleanor Holmes Norton for D.C. delegate to Congress; and Mike Panetta for shadow representative. Look for more coverage for LL and other City Paper staff on Wednesday and throughout the week, including in Thursday's dead-tree edition of the paper.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery