Schwartz’s Run Mixes Up D.C. Mayoral Race

Former at-large city council member Carol Schwartz, who hasn’t run for mayor in 12 years, has duly noted that she’s often referred to as a “perennial mayoral candidate” in the media, having run against Marion Barry twice and against Anthony Williams once, both of whom were Mayor of Washington, D.C.

While the reference isn’t necessarily a happy one, Schwartz used it today when she announced that she was: running for mayor. Again. The announcement, which arrived by e-mail, was in its own way dramatic in the sense that it appeared to be unexpected and surprising, and dropped like a summer bombshell in the city’s political and electoral scheme of things. In her announcement, she said, “Well, it’s been 12 years since I ran for mayor. That was in 2002; It’s now 2014. That’s a long time. But since I’m still referred to in that vein, I might as well be what I’m called. So, today, I am announcing my candidacy for Mayor of the District of Columbia.”

“This city has been a major cause of my adult life, not only as an elected official for 24 years (with some gaps in between) starting in 1974, and ending in 2009, but also as a citizen.” Schwartz said she had repeatedly been asked by both friends and strangers to come back and run for mayor. “Plus, having the knowledge, the long-term experience, the commitment, a real record of proven results, and a love for this city and all its people, I could no longer stand aside.”

Schwartz stated three concerns for running this time: “the ethics in our city, or lack thereof and its effect on us and our reputation, 2) watching our town grow and thrive, which is good, but at the same time seeing many of our fellow citizens not be part of the growing and thriving, and 3) not seeing in this general election the leader we need.”

In the immediate aftermath of the Democratic primary in April, which Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser won handily, shedding of her early rivals in the homestretch and running right by the scandal-plagued incumbent Vincent Gray, Bowser had the look of a favorite, if not a sure thing, even though the formidable Independent at-large council member David Catania had already announced that he would run.

By entering the race with emphasis, Schwartz, who has always had a wide and broadly-based following in her time on the council, on the school board and in her runs for mayor, brings a true potential game changer to the race. The Texas native, who served on the council as Republican at-large member, was always ran as a Republican who looked an awful lot like a populist Democrat with fiscal conservative stripes, always brought a real energy to her work on the council and in her electoral runs. She had a passion for the elderly, education, she ran on anti-corruption issues, and engaged voters and her colleagues as well with a great deal of up-close intensity.

In three runs against Barry, she piled up impressive results, getting more than 40 percent of the vote in her last challenge to Barry, now serving on the District Council as Ward 8 member.

She brings a certain depth of experience and a thick track record to the race, the kind of experience, for instance, that Bowser can’t hope to match, having had a hand in, debated, or tackled issues the current council is still dealing with, from the budget to to earmarks, to transportation, and education.

Schwartz, too, like Catania, is running as an Independent, after being a Republican.

She has been out of office since 2009, having lost a convoluted race for re-election which first saw her lose a GOP primary contest to newcomer Patrick Mara, who was backed strongly by the business community, and failing in a write-in attempt, which saw the Browns, Kwame and Michael, win the two seats available. Both, as we know, have since been ousted from the council.

Schwartz’s entry into the race brings a renewed energy to the city’s political buzz and the campaign, which has been mostly quiet as summer moves along.


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