The Washington Post has endorsed Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) in the Washington, D.C. Democratic primary. In heavily-Democratic Washington, a win in the Democratic primary essentially guarantees election as Mayor in the general election. I am not a citizen of the District and, as such, Off on a Tangent will make no formal endorsement in this race. Having said that, I do take an interest in D.C. city politics since the policies implemented there have regional impact.
The Post editorial board makes a sound and well-reasoned argument for re-electing Fenty and, watching as an outsider, I have been generally pleased with the city’s direction under his leadership. Fenty’s government has noticeably improved many parts of the District over his four years in office and, most importantly, he has presided over a controversial and much-needed series of public school reforms (led by his appointed Schools Chancellor, Michelle Rhee). In a very short time, D.C. schools have gone from being the laughing-stock of the nation to being regarded as an ascendant system with a chance at real success.
For his (and Rhee’s) ‘no-holds-barred’ reformation of D.C. city schools alone, Fenty deserves praise. D.C. government has many serious problems—crime, corruption, and incompetence leading the list. Education is the key to solving each of them. Well-educated citizens will choose productive careers instead of a life of crime. Well-educated citizens will participate in their government and reject cronyism and corruption. Well-educated citizens will rebuild their blighted neighborhoods and decaying infrastructure. If Washington is to continue to improve, it will only do so with a sufficiently effective public education system. Fenty and Rhee, seizing control after decades of academic institutional failure, have finally started to turn things around.
Once again, I make no endorsement in this race and would not presume to lecture the citizens of Washington, D.C. (any more than I already have) on who they should elect as their mayor. But I’m not going to bite my tongue either: despite their flaws, Mayor Fenty and Michelle Rhee seem to be the best things to happen to the District in a while. I am hoping that the citizens of the District will give them a chance to keep up their very important work.