The District's New Start

January 04, 1991

The nation's capital city began a new era of hope and renewal this week as one of its own, Sharon Pratt Dixon, took the helm as mayor. In a moving inaugural, she spoke of a "new season of coming together. A season where the international city, the federal city, the many neighborhoods, the many constituents, become one."

Her words struck deep chords within Washingtonians eager tmove beyond years of scandalously inefficient, unresponsive government unable to deal with drugs, crime, public education and racial polarization. Ms. Dixon's first assignment will be the threatened bankruptcy of the city in a matter of months. If she is to win a boost in federal funding from a wary Congress weary of the District's spending excesses, she must act quickly and decisively.

Critical, too, is forging a partnership with a new, invigorated D.C. Council, one motivated not by power and personal gain but the good of city residents. She will be helped in this by new Council Chairman John Wilson, a holdover from the previous administration who, as head of its finance and revenue committee, routinely challenged former Mayor Marion Barry.

There are many other mandates, including an overhaul of a troubled, inefficient school system and a long-overdue housecleaning at the District Building. The list goes on, yet Mrs. Dixon's qualifications and determination have inspired confidence among her constituents.

No one is more aware of the trust placed in her by the diverse social tapestry that is Washington than Ms. Dixon herself. Seizing upon the theme, "Yes We Will!" she spoke of solving intractable problems and reclaiming time honored values. But as she herself pointed out, "Yes We Will" must be more than a theme for a day.

Sharon Pratt Dixon, a successful attorney and power company executive, has become an important political symbol as the first black woman to become mayor of a major American city. Yet this daughter of the District is far more than just another political pioneer. To the diverse community that is the nation's capital she can be a catalyst for achievement, honesty, a new beginning.

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