Leaves of Grouse: Schwartz?s sick bill prompted biz-community complaints.
Leaves of Grouse: Schwartz?s sick bill prompted biz-community complaints. Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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Took you long enough, honey!

At-Large Councilmember Carol Schwartz today announced she’ll be standing for a re-election this fall, in an unsurprising but highly anticipated announcement from the four-term incumbent.

The news reached LL in the form of a press release issued by the D.C. Republican Party just after 5 p.m. this evening, which included a long speech written by Schwartz playing up her long record and explaining her fifth bid for the council seat.

One highlight: “A lot of people have told me, ‘Carol, you don’t need this job. Why do you want to continue to work this hard?’ And the best answer I can give them is that I am very protective of and, in fact, passionate about this city. I often say that I have gotten over every love affair I’ve ever had except for the one I’ve had with DC for nearly 43 years.”

In a conversation this afternoon, Schwartz said the mechanics of the campaign meant she just couldn’t put off a decision any longer: Ballot petitions are due July 2, and Schwartz picked hers up today (they’ve been available since May 9). “I wanted to get my petitions and start getting that on the road,” she says. “That’s why I did it the way I did it.”

Schwartz says she’s yet to plan a formal kickoff—-or any other campaign event, for that matter. “I haven’t thought that far ahead….The only thing I’ve done thus far is pick up my petitions and written that speech. Now I have to do the other things.”

The late start is nothing new for Schwartz, who has typically delayed her politicking until well into the campaign season. What is new this year is a slew of motivated challengers taking aim at her seat, including independent candidates Michael A. Brown, Adam Clampitt, and Dee Hunter, plus a Republican challenger in 33-year-old government relations consultant Patrick Mara.

To get on the GOP primary ballot, Schwartz and Mara will need to gather signatures from 1 percent of registered Republicans in the city—-about 291, according to the most recent registration stats. That’s much fewer than the 2,000 that local Democratic candidates need to capture, but then again, finding Republicans in this town is a lot harder.

Schwartz says her old reliable method for signature gathering is to focus on local grocery stores and rely on the expertise of friends to circulate. The door-to-door campaigning strategy favored by some of her competitors, she says, is “such a hit or miss thing….It’s probably more efficient to just go to some grocery store where people gather.”

Speech in full after the jump.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Proven Commitment … Proven Leadership … Proven Results
Carol Schwartz’s 2008 Re-Election Announcement

June 9, 2008

Today I am announcing my candidacy for re-election as an at-large member of the Council of the District of Columbia. I look forward to the campaign ahead and making my case for another term based on my solid record of effective leadership in getting the job done, and my demonstrated commitment to the people – all the people – of this city that I love.

For the four decades I have lived here, I have put tremendous energy into making DC a better place for all of us. My record – both as a citizen and as an elected official – shows there is no area where I have not shown commitment.

Early on, I sent my three children to the Recreation Department’s pre-school programs, and then volunteered there. I sent them to our public schools, and then ran for the Board of Education. And during the two terms I served on the Board from 1974 to 1982, we hired two strong Superintendents and student test scores went up. And I tried – long before it was fashionable – to lengthen the school day and year, strengthen teacher evaluations, and establish a pre-kindergarten program for all 4-year-olds.

As a citizen, I tutored at Malcolm X Elementary School in Anacostia and counseled drug addicts at the Black Man’s Development Center on Georgia Avenue. I served as the first woman President of the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs, and I helped steer us through the worst years of the AIDS crisis as a member of the Board of the Whitman-Walker Clinic. I have personally supported many other organizations serving residents of our city – Iona Senior Services, the Mautner Project, S.O.M.E., the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, La Clinica del Pueblo, Metro TeenAIDS and the Greater Washington Urban League, to name a few. I have also enjoyed being a loyal patron to our arts community, and know that a vibrant cultural life with thriving arts and entertainment venues lifts us all.

As a member of the Council, first from 1985 to 1989 and again since 1997, I have fought to prevent problems that I saw coming and, when I haven’t succeeded, I have worked hard to solve them. Those who, like me, have been around for a while might remember that during my one Council term in the 1980s, not only did I successfully lower income and inheritance taxes so residents would stop fleeing the District, I also was the only member of the Council to vote against all the bloated budgets that lead to the severe financial crisis during the early 1990s, when I was not there – a crisis that cost us dearly and, for a time, virtually ended our already limited home rule.

Following my husband’s death in 1988, and when my first term ended, I left the Council. While I finished raising my three kids and volunteered for various organizations, I watched with great distress and sadness as the city’s troubles escalated. I could not sit idly by, and that’s why I ran for Mayor against Marion Barry in 1994 – even though I knew that for a Republican in this town, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 10 to 1, the odds were slim. Still, I won 42% of the vote, and then in 1996, I succeeded in being elected again to the Council.

In the years since, I have fought for better services, and we have them. I have fought for better financial management, and we have that. I have fought for greater tax parity with suburban jurisdictions, and we have that, too. I have fought to establish our own Department of the Environment, to plant more trees, for a more energy-efficient fleet of government vehicles and for a cleaner city, and we have all that. I have fought for tax-free holidays, free parking in many commercial areas, and to bring us more retail and entertainment options so that we might have more vitality – day and night – and we also have that. I am very proud of the role that I played in our turnaround, and I hope to continue doing all I can as a Councilmember to ensure that we never fall back, that we always move forward.

Over all these years, I have remained beholden to no one but the residents of DC. I have worked full-time – and very hard – on their behalf. If I am re-elected to the Council, I will continue to provide the kind of aggressive and thorough oversight of District agencies that residents have come to expect. I will continue to try my best to strike the right balance on each issue. I will continue to work with the Mayor and my colleagues on improving our schools, on making our streets safer, and on training and maintaining a strong municipal workforce. I will continue to push for improvements to basic services, and to remind everyone that these services are not gifts from government, but a responsibility of government that the taxpayers are paying for. I will continue to be responsive to constituents who express their need for help. I will continue to support accessible health care for all. I will continue to try to make sure our residents receive quality training for available jobs, and that they get at least their fair share of those jobs. I will continue to propose and support favorable tax policies that help to keep businesses, especially small businesses, in our city. I will continue to work to keep our current residents here and attract an economic mix of new residents by creating more affordable housing, and maintaining reasonable rent controls. I will continue to protect our seniors, our young people, the disabled, our returning veterans and other valuable and vulnerable populations by paying special attention to them, as I always have.

I will continue to fight for expanding our home rule and for full voting representation in Congress. I will continue to fight for human rights – and equal rights – for all our citizens. I will also continue to fight for greater accountability in government, just as I have in the past by strengthening protections for whistleblowers, by speaking out against sole-source contracts and property sales that are not competitively bid, and by not earmarking taxpayers’ dollars to fund a favored outside group. And if the voters keep me here, I can guarantee them that I will continue to be straightforward, always calling it like I see it, and that I will keep fighting for our city, and for them.

I must admit it’s sometimes nice to get credit where credit is due, like when the Washington City Paper, in its recent “Best Of” issue, named me the “Best Friend of the District Taxpayer” because of my negotiating better deals for the city, and when Colby King, in a recent Washington Post column condemning outside earmarks, said, “Please note: Councilmember Carol Schwartz’s respect for taxpayers and government accountability prevented her from playing the earmark game.” But my work is not done for the media, nor is it often even covered by the media. In fact, it is often not seen. It is done in my office with my staff, in meetings at the Wilson Building or out in the community, and in my home with stacks of papers around me. Make no mistake – much work remains, especially within the framework of the national economy and the challenges it presents. We need seasoned, positive and proven leadership at such a time more than ever.

A lot of people have told me, “Carol, you don’t need this job. Why do you want to continue to work this hard?” And the best answer I can give them is that I am very protective of and, in fact, passionate about this city. I often say that I have gotten over every love affair I’ve ever had except for the one I’ve had with DC for nearly 43 years. I wake up in the morning, usually in the early morning, thinking, “Which problem, which issue, can I tackle today?” If there is such a thing as a calling, this is mine.

I have been around for a while, and over the course of my political career I have taken strong stands on the many controversial issues that have come before us. Some people, it seems, only remember that one issue on which we disagreed, and have forgotten about all the other issues on which we shared similar views – and for which I fought equally hard. So, during this campaign I am going to ask people to look at my record – my entire record. I hope that in doing so, they will conclude that I have been good for this city, and that they would like to keep me here, working for them.

If I am re-elected for another four years, I can assure our residents that they will get from me more of the same – more of the same devotion and commitment, more of the same energy and hard work, and more of the same passion – and compassion – that I have demonstrated over the past four decades.

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