Ever since his arrest last January in a drug sting at Washington's Vista Hotel, District Mayor Marion Barry has been a man desperately seeking vindication, first from the jurors who convicted him on one misdemeanor cocaine possession charge, then from the judge who sentenced him to six months in prison, and finally from the voters, whom he called upon to return him to office as one of two at-large members on the City Council. On Tuesday the people spoke and told Barry to call it a day.
Barry's ignominious defeat in the council race -- he won less than 20 percent of the vote -- was entirely in keeping with the new mood among District voters that propelled Sharon Pratt Dixon, a lawyer and former utility company executive who three months ago was given virtually no chance of winning, into the mayor's office on a sweeping promise to "clean house." Dixon pledged to cut 2,000 middle-management jobs from the bureaucracy and restore integrity to city government -- a program endorsed by a whopping 86 percent of voters.
Clearly District residents have embarked in a hopeful new direction and wish to put the embarrassing legacy of Barry's final years firmly behind them.