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New D.C. Mayor Unveils Initiatives For Nation’s Capital

District of Columbia Mayor Anthony A. Williams told a National Press Club audience March 10th that Washington would face up to formidable challenges and opportunities under his new administration to keep "America’s first city" an international world-renowned center.

While snow blanketed the nation’s capital, Williams told a nationally televised C-SPAN audience that was going to make things work better, and felt a sense of urgency in coping with problems other U.S. cities face, and in restoring faith and confidence in the District government.

Williams said he had gleaned much in getting ideas to reinvigorate his work force, and in coping with the challenges such as the need to invest in children, demanding accountability in government and in expanding transportation for D.C. residents to get to jobs in the outer suburbs.

"If our government is broken, we will come nowhere near a vision of a government that is performing well," the Mayor said.

As the core of an expanding regional market, Williams said his year 2000 budget - submitted to the City Council March 15 - would inject "managed competition" to D.C. city services to provide for accountability in government.

Citing statistics that showed 2 of 5 District children live in poverty, Williams said another area of concern was to provide recreational and educational opportunities for children in environments outside of school hours.

"We have to show that democracy can work in the nation’s capital. An the key ingredient for making democracy work is an economic foundation, matched with civic spirit," the Mayor commented.

In a question and answer period, Mayor Williams fielded a wide range of questions on the direction his new Administration would take.

He said his agenda of change would focus on ways to stem population flight that began in the 1980s, create a better climate for business investment in the city, and support charter schools.

When asked if, as mayor, he’d like control over the D.C. public school system, Williams said he was not "lobbying" to take over the school system, and suggested that the elected School Board be given a chance to improve educational performance of students and take other steps to strengthen the school system.

Mayor William’s first budget - for $4.7 billion - outlined ambitious plans to reshape the District government. They include a panoply of proposals such as providing health insurance to 39,000 poor, uninsured residents, cut taxes on small businesses, hire private firms to fight drug addiction, and invest funds in retraining of city workers.

Williams, the city’s former chief financial officer, headed The Control Board created by Congress in 1995 to rescue the District from a financial crisis. That agency would be phased out if the city balances its budget this year and in 2000.

The new Mayor has extensive municipal experience working in community development in St. Louis and Boston, and received his M.P.A. from Harvard University.

U.S. Mayor

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