Credit: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

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In all her years of government watchdogging, Dorothy Brizill has been sued, yelled at, and even assaulted. Her diminutive figure, black beret, and chiding voice are staples of local press conferences and D.C. Council hearings; city officials wince when she pelts them with queries on regulations she always seems to know more about than they do. So it was a sad shock in May when her Columbia Heights manse went up in flames, taking with it decades of papers that she and husband Gary Imhoff had compiled through their work as the two-person team behind good-government/myopic-little-twit-scolding group D.C. Watch. But just as Brizill never backed down from a fight against more powerful and better-funded enemies, she didn’t let the two-alarm fire that consumed the 142-year-old Girard Street NW home slow her down: The very next day, she was spotted observing the kickoff of early voting in a May 15 special election in Ward 5.