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New D.C. mayor promises world-class city

Looks ahead to home rule

January 2, 1999
Web posted at: 9:53 p.m. EST (0253 GMT)

Who controls D.C.'s local government

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The new mayor of Washington, D.C., said he is committed to making the nation's capital a world-class city. The mayor said customer service will be of utmost importance, and managers will be held accountable for their actions.

Anthony Williams was sworn in as the fourth mayor of the nation's capital. In his inaugural speech Saturday afternoon at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, Williams announced his first and foremost priority will be to fix the potholes in the city.

He got his loudest round of applause for his simple promise to make sure all city phones are answered in a professional and courteous manner. "We need to replace 'I don't know' with 'I'll find out,'" he said.

Williams, 47, became a local favorite when as the chief financial officer of the District of Columbia he balanced the district's budget and delivered a surplus of $185 million in fiscal year 1997. At the same time, he earned a fair measure of respect from the Republican-dominated Congress as well as the Clinton administration.

The Yale- and Harvard-educated mayor spoke passionately about home rule.

"The center of democracy must and will reflect the core values of democracy," he said. "And I promise that the Williams administration will be a tireless, tireless champion of that cause."

Currently, about half a million residents of the District of Columbia have no voting representation in Congress.

Rep. Tom Davis III, R-Virginia, who supported Williams for mayor and heads the House Subcommittee on Washington, D.C., was present at his inauguration. He told CNN he would support legislation in Congress aimed at home rule for the nation's capital.

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman represented President Clinton and his administration at the ceremony. Also present were Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Maryland, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the district in Congress.

Outgoing Mayor Marion Barry, who consistently fought with Republicans for voting rights in Congress, urged district residents to get behind Williams' administration and help him succeed.


Saturday January 2, 1999

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