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In this space last month following the primary election we strongly urged Carol Schwartz, the very progressive Republican Party at-large member of the City Council, to run for re-election in the November general election as a write-in candidate (see, “Misguided Republicans Have Done The City A Disservice By Dumping Carol!,” page 2). Within a few days of our clarion call she did make the announcement that she was indeed going to do just that (though we are sure her decision was based on more substantial considerations than one community newspaper’s urgings).

And, as we reminded our readers, while successful write-in campaigns can be problematical, they do not have to be a lost cause. Keep in mind that Councilmember Schwartz lost by just a little more than half the approximately 4,000 Republican votes cast. But, considering that out of the city’s nearly 332,000 registered voters only less than 30,000 are registered as Republicans, what this says to us is that come the general election next month when all expectations are that turnout will be huge, there ought to be a sufficiently large pool of voters from all over the city who appreciate the dedicated service of at-large Councilmember Schwartz and will be anxious to return her to the Council by means of write-in.

And voters who may be so inclined to want to vote for her by write-in but worry that their vote might be wasted because successful write-in campaigns historically are dicey, should recall former Mayor Anthony Williams’ successful re-election by write-in. That proved that if the voters truly want the candidate their little extra effort to pick up the little pencil provided in each polling booth and use it to write in their vote for Councilmember Schwartz will not be a wasted exercise.

It has seemed to us that the call coming from some quarters to dump the council member is based on the desirability of “change” for change’s sake — but it seems to us that’s a meaningless rationale in this instance. What would be the purpose in change with regard to her? The Republicans believe it would be so that the Council might acquire a member who is a fiscal conservative — she has been accused of being a “reckless spender,” but that is a bogus charge. More than most, she sounds the alarm when the departments and agencies come to the Council with huge and questionable spending ideas, like she recently did, in her capacity as chair of the Council’s Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations, when she held a hearing on a plan by the Office of the Chief Technology Officer to spend up to $150 million on contracting out computer support personnel hiring functions; we think she put them on notice that they had overstepped and succeeded in scaling back their demand by half. The bureaucrats who were intensely grilled by her for over five hours were not happy campers but that was fine with us. We think it is vital that the Council’s various oversight committees do oversight and hold the agency managers accountable.

It is her willingness to focus on much of the arcane stuff that is grist for the bureaucratic mill that if left unchecked will translate into even more fiscal waste that is one of the very important reasons why we need to return at-large Councilmember Schwartz to continue her good government crusading on behalf of us taxpayers.

As the Washington Post‘s Marc Fisher wrote in an early September column, Carol Schwartz “has been a rare fiscal conservative in a government that views taxpayers as a bottomless source of cash for every fly-by-night contractor and every community group that purports to be doing something good. When her deep adenoidal voice rings out in a council hearing room, it’s often the public’s only chance to discover how the millions vanish and how little the people get in return.”

Do we taxpayers want to lose that? We think not.

We are definitely not alone in our assessment of the importance of returning Carol Schwartz to the Council. Immediately following the September primary election the local blogs carried numerous accolades, such as this one:

“Schwartz, a longtime council member who, like Marion Barry, has built a reputation in the District among voters for her aggressive efforts at accountability, especially when it came to the executive branch. She has been a proverbial thorn in the side of Barry and other mayors, including Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.”

And this one:

“Schwartz was able to transcend the party label. Schwartz was arguably the closest thing to a small(er)-government conservative there is on the council. She stood up to Fenty on schools . . . and nearly knocked off Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry in 1994. Her occasionally contrary voice be sorely missed.”

Returning again to the Post‘s Marc Fisher, he provided his readers with the very telling quote referring to Carol Schwartz from longtime local Democratic Party and civil rights activist Lawrence Guyot: “She’s beyond meticulous about knowing where every dollar is spent,” and who went on to tell Fisher that he works to defeat all other Republicans except her and at-large Councilmember David Catania before he decamped from the Republican Party.

And, as Fisher added in disagreement with his newspaper’s complaining about her being “unrelentingly negative,” he wrote, “[that is] a term I’d think any legislator charged with overseeing a sprawling, profligate bureaucracy would wear proudly.” We couldn’t have said it better. What Carol Schwartz is offering us struggling taxpayers is to serve as the little guy’s “junkyard dog” — we need her more than ever these days!