Dixon wins big upset in race for D.C. mayor DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

September 12, 1990|By Mick Rood | Mick Rood,Evening Sun Staff

WASHINGTON -- Sharon Pratt Dixon scored a surprising upset in the mayor's race in Washington, D.C., walking away from City Councilman John Ray, who had amassed a commanding $1 million in contributions in the Democratic primary.

Dixon, a former Potomac Electric Power Co. official and prominent Democratic Party official, shook a reputation of being an elitist unaware of the problems on the street and successfully molded herself as the outsider needed to reform the capital's troubled government.

Dixon had more than one-third of the vote and a 10 percentage point lead over Ray.

While his lead shortened recently, Ray had led local published polls comfortably throughout the campaign, despite large and roundly criticized contributions from real estate developers. His change of mind about raising taxes -- he came around to believing higher taxes were needed to solve the District of Columbia's mounting budget problems -- also seemed not to be damaging.

Dixon, who has never held political office but was endorsed by the Washington Post, ran an outspoken campaign aimed at her other four competitors, all of whom were veteran D.C. city officials. One of her campaign pledges was to fire several nTC thousand city bureaucrats she claimed weren't needed for services, only for politics.

She will most likely become Washington's first woman mayor, although Republican Party officials regard their primary winner, former police chief Maurice Turner, as an attractive candidate. District voter registration is overwhelmingly Democratic.

The first among the mayoral candidates to call for current Mayor Marion Barry's resignation, Dixon last night greeted her supporters, some of whom were carrying brooms and shovels.

She told her joyful backers, "the message that came forth is that the people of this city want us to reconnect."

Beyond the message of healing, however, Dixon shouted with the crowd that the other message was, "Clean house!" Anti-Barry administration feelings may also have affected Charlene Drew Jarvis, who ran third behind Dixon and Ray, in that she was frequently compared to Barry and drew the endorsement of the mayor's wife, Effi Barry.

City Council President Dave Clarke, who is white, finished behind Dixon, Ray and two other black candidates. But Clarke had trailed badly in polls throughout the summer.

City Councilwoman Betty Ann Kane, who is white, had trailed her most prominent foe for the district's delegate seat in Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a black civil rights leader and lawyer. The contest remained close this morning, less likely because of race than because of recent revelations that Norton and her husband had not paid District of Columbia taxes for the past seven years.

The tax furor had such impact that the Post had to reverse itself, withdraw its support of Norton and switch its endorsement to Kane.

In other results, former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson won a landslide victory for the "shadow" U.S. Senate seat the D.C. City Council created to symbolically support statehood for the district.

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