Sherwood's Notebook: Rip 'Em All Down!

Your candidate won. Congratulations.

Your candidate lost. Condolences all around.

Win or lose, it’s time to take the campaign signs down.

We’re talking about the ones on public space. Your house or yard, please do what you like. (As late as last week, Mayor Vincent Gray still had his own sign from April in his yard.)

But now, let’s de-clutter the light poles, the street signs and all the rest of the public space.

Don’t wait for someone else. Be the cleanup crew on your block.

We all thank you.

■ Aftermath. Our column deadline came before the polls closed Tuesday.

If Muriel Bowser has won, no surprise. She led all during the campaign. The only real review over this victory is “by how much?”

A narrow win is still a win, but in this heavily Democratic town it’s not impressive if Bowser is in the low 50s, percent-wise, or worse. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, her campaign had been privately touting a 15 to 20 percent margin. Bowser ran a disciplined campaign that focused on organization and get-out-the-vote, choosing to rebuff neighborhood and community groups trying to hold traditional forums. If Bowser has won, expect her to move quickly with a transition team.

If David Catania has won, you’ve just witnessed one of the biggest upsets in modern American urban history. Catania earlier this year had wanted to run against wounded incumbent Gray.

Bowser’s folks at first tried to laugh Catania out of the race by ignoring him and questioning whether he would even officially get into the November contest. By midsummer they weren’t laughing.

Catania ran a spirited campaign and tried to make it a status-quo-versus-change election, arguing that Bowser was too timid to be mayor. If he’s the mayor-elect, the city is in for interesting times as it comes to grip with the first white — and first gay — mayor in the city’s Home Rule history.

If Carol Schwartz has won, you may be reading my last political column. Clearly, every political pundit has misread the electorate and it is time for someone else to weigh in. Schwartz was making her fifth run for mayor. No doubt that she wanted to be mayor, but she also couldn’t stand the thought of her nemesis Catania succeeding where she failed.

If Carol has won, it won’t be as history-making as a Catania victory, but almost every assumption of city elections will have to change.

In general, whoever has won, this general election sets a new course for the city.

Beyond the arrival of our third new mayor in eight years, the 13-member D.C. Council is getting three new members. Ward 1’s Jim Graham was defeated in the Democratic primary by Brianne Nadeau. Both at-large member Catania and Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells gave up their seats to run for mayor, with Wells losing in the primary. Charles Allen, former chief of staff to Wells, was heading toward an easy win in Ward 6. The at-large contest was unclear, except that everyone was expecting incumbent Anita Bonds to win re-election (the top two vote-getters win seats).

The mayor’s office is changing. The council is changing. The electorate is changing. Don’t blink. You might miss something.

What now for pot? All the opinion polls showed legalization of marijuana winning. If it has, the legislation approved by voters likely won’t clear the routine congressional review process until next March. And then city officials will have six months to write regulations on how marijuana will be distributed and sold, and how violations will be enforced.

So don’t expect legal sales in the city until early 2016 — and that’s assuming Congress doesn’t weigh in and block the measure. If the Senate has flipped to Republicans, the chances of that have skyrocketed.

■ That’s our Tony. The funeral last week for former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee drew the crowd of luminaries you’d expect from the many worlds of journalism and official Washington.

Among the National Cathedral crowd was former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, who came bounding up the walkway alone just before the service began. When it was over, Williams came out, again alone.

We happened to be out on Wisconsin when he walked up. Was he looking for his limousine or car? No, he said modestly, he was trying to wave down a passing bus that would take him downtown. So we stepped out in traffic and helped flag down the bus to a stop. “Would you take Mayor Williams?” we asked. “Sure,” said the driver. And they were off.

No limo for Tony, who still has people coming up to him saying they wish he had run this year.
We also asked Williams if he had any Bradlee stories. He laughed and said Bradlee had been impressed with the Williams cannonballs that opened the pool season each year. “He really liked those,” Williams said.

It’s too bad subsequent mayors haven’t found the humor, nerve or gumption to follow through with that rite of summer.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

Contact Us