A tough race for Washington’s Mayor Primaries. Incumbent Adrian Fenty lost to Vincent Gray, the chairman of Washington’s city council. As of Wednesday morning, September 15, with 90 percent of the precincts report, 53 percent of the votes went to Gray. In a largely Democratic city, winning the Primaries for this election is basically winning the general election as well.
Fenty’s loss will be felt by many who believed he was a good mayor over the last four years. Fenty revamped the school system, which was failing on all accounts. During Fenty’s time in office, test scores rose. The murder rate fell, as well.
When it came down to it, he lost the race because of public perception. Many felt that the connection he had with the low-income voters and the black voters was lost and that he wasn’t doing his best to know what these voters wanted and needed. Fenty was so focused on getting the job done and doing good that he forgot to make sure the voters knew he still cared. This led to many voters voting for Gray just because he wasn’t Fenty. Too often, emotions play a bigger part in voting than cold-hard facts, which is not a smart way to vote, but candidates can’t forget that many voters do vote on emotion. If Fenty had spent more of his time in office making sure that voters felt connected, he would have probably won this election.
One of Felty’s biggest criticisms was that when he worked to reform the schools, there was no collaboration. Michelle Rhee, who was appointed to do the overhaul, felt collaboration was overrated and unnecessary. During her time, she shut down 24 schools and fired many teachers for poor performance. She also pushed to have merit-based pay for teachers as a way to motivate teachers to do better.
In Gray’s victory speech, he refuted this saying that collaboration and reform were not mutually exclusive and he would prove it with his administration. Only time will tell if Gray will accomplish these goals or if he’s all talk and no action.