One City, In Song

Inaugural song highlights Gray themes

By P.J. Orvetti
|  Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011  |  Updated 6:45 AM EDT
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One City, In Song

NBCWashington.com

Vincent Gray, a dancin' machine.

While Sunday’s D.C. inaugural festivities were long on rhetoric and short on specifics, one early checklist for Mayor Vincent Gray’s accomplishments emerged -- in song.

After a campaign season that included the Ron Moten-certified “U Fenty Huh” and “Don't Leave Us Fenty,” we might have hoped for a break from District politics-themed tunes. But shortly before Gray was sworn in, fans handed out the lyrics to a ditty inevitably titled “One City.”

The words list some goals for Gray, at least in the eyes of his backers:

One City, North, South, East, or West,
All residents deserve the best
One City, for newcomers and longtime residents,
No one takes precedent
Public servants deem common courtesy a given,
Regardless of where residents are livin’
West of the park or east of the river
City services are equally delivered
Delivered efficiently and on time,
Promoting citywide peace of mind

Of course, the One City is waiting to see just what Gray will choose to do. He comes to office with a heap of public goodwill after a bitter primary and the unexpectedly strong Adrian Fenty November write-in vote -- in large part because after Election Day, Fenty did all he could to clear the way and to smooth things over with his die-hards and Gray skeptics.

Gray also spent his transition showing he would not be such a big departure from Fentyism as some predicted. Rather, he basically showed that he plans to continue the path of Fenty and Anthony Williams, but at a more measured pace, with a friendlier face, and with more public consultation. If Fenty himself had done these things, Gray knows, he would have been easily re-elected.

Seven of Gray’s top Cabinet picks so far are Fenty holdovers, with Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier the most prominent, and while Michelle Rhee is gone, she lives on in spirit under interim successor Kaya Henderson. (Henderson is to Rhee as Gray has been to Fenty so far -- same agenda, kinder approach.)

How does this feel to Gray’s early backers in that part of One City east of the Anacostia, who gave him his widest margins of support in September? The Washington Post reported that in Ward 8, residents are still hopeful. Outspoken Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Mary Cuthbert told the paper, “We expect to see some improvement east of the river. We want to see it be the same like everywhere else they built up. And we don’t need no bicycle lanes.”

This is the first time in District history that both the mayor and the D.C. Council chairman are from east of the river, and Gray promises not to forget Wards 7 and 8. But he worries that voters there and elsewhere will expect too much too fast.

“We are going to do the best we can,” he told the Post. “You want people to be enthusiastic and optimistic, but you have to manage expectations because a lot of it is connecting with reality.”

But Ward 8 residents told the Post that they “will give Gray only so much time, perhaps a year or two, to prove he can deliver on campaign promises that include lowering the city’s unemployment rate.”

For now, they’re all in tune, but if Gray lets them down, they could be singing a different song.

Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC

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