Fenty on Days as Mayor: “My Only Regret…”

Then and now: Adrian Fenty recounts his term as D.C. mayor

Former Washington D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty is talking about his days leading the District. He recently gave an interview to the Huffington Post’s Black Voices.

Almost a year since leaving office, Fenty spoke candidly with HuffPo when he discussed his term as mayor.

"My only regret is that I wasn't more uncompromising.” He went on to say, “we didn't compromise on what we believed in. To the extent people were upset, it was because we were pushing the envelope."

After being voted in as the youngest D.C. mayor in 2006, Fenty lost his re-election bid in the September 2010 Democratic primary to current D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. This past July, he announced he joined the law firm Klores Perry Mitchell, P.C. as special counsel.

Fenty told Black Voices, "When I lost the election, I was 39. I just looked at it all glass half-full. One, there are so many things to do in life and I'm very interested in doing them all. Two, I had an opportunity to be the mayor for the city I was born and raised in. For four years, it was a fantastic experience. I would have loved to have served more time in order to get more done, but I'm not sure if personally I would have gotten any more out of it."

Fenty brought on board Michelle Rhee as chancellor of D.C. schools: a woman who seemed not afraid to bring reform to public schools. During her tenure, she fired hundreds of teachers and closed schools in an effort to improve education. The moves brought on both praise and anger.

In response to Rhee’s sometimes unpopular moves, Fenty said, "I wasn't under any illusion that what we were doing was popular. I knew it was unpopular, and maybe even very unpopular," he conceded. "In my mind, politicians are elected to do the right thing; in fact if it's unpopular, they should do it anyway."

In April 2010, Fenty returned from a vacation and attended a vigil after a mass shooting. Four people were killed and five others were injured. They were part of a group of people gathered on South Capitol Street after leaving the funeral of a 20-year-old previously killed. Police called it one of the deadliest shootings in DC history. Fenty was met by a crowd of boos when he arrived at the vigil; a clear sign that his popularity and approval had declined.

"You can learn more from being harder on yourself, but I just refuse," Fenty said. "I think, 'What could I have done differently in this particular instance? We have a homicide rate lower than at any point since 1964.' So I couldn't have done anything else in terms of law enforcement. Could I have done anything different as a politician? Maybe I could have come home earlier the next day but at that point the die had been cast."

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