Adrian Fenty

American politician and former mayor of the District of Columbia

Adrian Malik Fenty (born December 6, 1970)[1] was the sixth, and youngest Mayor of the District of Columbia.[2] He was a national leader in urban education reform.[3] He lost his re-election bid in the 2010 Democratic primary to Vincent C. Gray, who went on to win the general election for mayor.

Adrian Fenty
Adrian Fenty, Mayor of DC, November 5, 2007.jpg
6th Mayor of the District of Columbia
In office
January 2, 2007 – January 2, 2011
Preceded byAnthony Williams
Succeeded byVincent Gray
Member of the
Council of the District of Columbia
from Ward 4
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 2, 2007
Preceded byCharlene Drew Jarvis
Succeeded byMuriel Bowser
Personal details
Born (1970-12-06) December 6, 1970 (age 51)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic Party
Spouse(s)Michelle Cross
Alma materOberlin College
Howard University
WebsiteOfficial website

Early life, education, and familyEdit

Fenty grew up in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C. and graduated from Mackin Catholic High School. As a teenager, he worked at Swenson's Ice Cream next to the Uptown Theatre.[4]

Fenty's mother is white, and his father is African-American. Adrian Fenty is the middle child of three boys—older brother Shawn, a bicycle expert, and younger brother Jess. Their parents are runners and own a Fleet Feet athletic shoe store in the D.C. neighborhood of Adams Morgan.[5] Adrian has run in the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run each year since 2004, improving his finishing time from 1:17:22 in 2005 to 1:02:59 in 2009.[6][7]

Fenty earned a B.A. in English and Economics at Oberlin College and a J.D. from the Howard University School of Law.[8] He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.[9]

In 1997, Fenty and lawyer Michelle Cross eloped. Michelle Cross Fenty works for the Inter-American Development Bank. They have three children: twins Matthew and Andrew (b. 2000) and Aerin Alexandra (b. 2008).[10][11]

Entry into politics and service on D.C. CouncilEdit

Fenty was an intern for Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH), Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-MA) before becoming involved in local politics. In addition to serving as an aide to Councilmember Kevin P. Chavous, he was elected as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in ANC 4C and was president of the 16th Street Neighborhood Civic Association.

In 2000, Fenty won a seat on the D.C. Council. Fenty ran against long-time Ward 4 Councilmember Charlene Drew Jarvis. Jarvis was well known and a heavy favorite, but Fenty campaigned hard. He pursued an aggressive door-to-door strategy and put up large numbers of green yard signs. Fenty was elected to the Council seat by a 57–43 percent margin.[12][13][14] Unopposed in both the primary and general elections in 2004, Fenty was reelected for a second term.[15][16]

As a Council member, Fenty worked on constituent services. He opposed public funding for a new baseball stadium. He proposed funding a $1 billion capital improvement program for public schools, which the Council subsequently passed in an altered form.[17] He is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition,[18] an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Thomas Menino.

Adrian Fenty, December 2006

While major, Fenty used three BlackBerry devices. One BlackBerry directly connected him to Police Chief Cathy Lanier while the latter two were for business and personal matters.[19]

2006 Mayoral CampaignEdit

Fenty formally announced his decision to campaign for mayor of the District of Columbia on June 1, 2005. In the fall of 2005, then-mayor Anthony A. Williams made the widely anticipated announcement that he would not seek re-election, and then-Council Chair Linda Cropp announced she would be a candidate for Mayor. Other candidates included businesswoman Marie Johns, then-Council member Vincent Orange, and lobbyist Michael A. Brown. Brown dropped out of the race in September 2006.

Fenty ran on a platform of bringing a more energetic and hands-on approach to district government. Cropp trumpeted her 25 years of experience in district government and her desire to continue the progress made by Anthony Williams, who endorsed her candidacy. The race was widely viewed as neck-and-neck through the spring of 2006. Both candidates raised significant and nearly equal amounts of money –roughly $1.75 million through June 10, 2006[20] –and neither gained any significant advantage from the numerous debates and forums.

By July 2006, public and private polling gave Fenty a roughly 10-point advantage.[21] Political observers have debated whether it was Fenty's unprecedented door-to-door campaign, in which he and his campaign workers visited virtually every block in the district, Cropp's lack of engagement in the campaign, or the electorate's desire for a new direction after eight years of Anthony Williams. Cropp's campaign began a series of negative attacks during the last month of the campaign. In direct mail and television advertisements, Cropp painted Fenty as unfit for the job and a careless lawyer who had been admonished by the D.C. Bar;[22] in 2005, he received an informal admonition from the Bar Association for his role in a probate case in 1999. The attacks, however, backfired; the reaction, coupled with the endorsement of the Washington Post newspaper, increased Fenty's lead in the campaign's final weeks.

On September 12, 2006, Fenty won all 142 district precincts in the Democratic Primary. This had never happened before in District of Columbia history[23]—and defeated Linda Cropp by a 57–31 percent margin.[24]

Fenty received 89% of the vote in the general election.[25][26] He became the district's sixth elected mayor since the establishment of home rule.

Tenure (2007–11)Edit

Jack Kemp, Fenty, and Eleanor Holmes Norton at D.C. Vote rally on Capitol Hill

Fenty paid a lot of attention to education reform. On the first day of his term, in an unprecedented and controversial move, Fenty introduced legislation to restructure the school system to give him full responsibility for schools. Across the district, district residents had been demanding that the schools be "fixed."[27] Schools in the district had been troubled for years with student test performance scores and graduation rates among the lowest in the nation. In 1996, a Control Board appointed by Congress had taken over control of the public school system, declaring that the schools were in a "state of emergency."[28] Mayor Fenty viewed this re-structuring as the solution.

In April, 2007, the D.C. Council approved Fenty's school takeover plan,[29] and in May 2007, legislation needed to approve the change was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush.[30] Under the new structure, the existing superintendent was replaced by a school chief, or chancellor, who was selected by the mayor and would report directly to him.[31] This power shift also allowed the mayor to make swift changes in the system's central office, alter teacher qualification requirements, and implement a school consolidation process.[32][33] His selection of Michelle Rhee to manage District schools surprised many people. In choosing Rhee, he stepped outside of the local landscape to consult with national education experts including New York City School Chancellor Joel Klein.[31]

The move to restructure the school's reporting system and the addition of a school chancellor as a direct report have been credited with putting the school system on the path to long-awaited improvements.[34] To ensure that maximum resources would go directly to classrooms, the mayor and chancellor closed 23 underenrolled schools and significantly reduced the school system's central administrative staff.[35] Student achievement at the secondary level rose 14 points in reading and 17 points in math since 2007, gains that are unprecedented in DC history and unparalleled nationwide. Student SAT scores rose 27 points in 2010.[35] Graduation rates rose each year since 2007, and 72 percent of district students took the Practice Scholastic Aptitude Test,[36] a.k.a. the PSAT, which functions as a practice test for students entering college.[37] His administration also took on a major, five-year maintenance and construction effort to dramatically improve school buildings by 2014.[32] The Mayor and Chancellor successfully negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with the Washington Teachers Union. The contract has become a national model for other jurisdictions, especially because it establishes a system of performance-based teacher compensation.[35]

While focusing on improving schools, the Fenty Administration changed district agencies, ensuring more efficient and effective service delivery throughout district government.[38] Fenty's choice for police chief, Cathy Lanier, also made national headlines.[39] Under Fenty, Lanier has added police officers to the streets and expanded community policing initiatives, for example, "beefing up" the policy of accepting anonymous text message tips from local residents to cut down on retaliation.[36] By local news accounts, there is evidence of success. The homicide rate in the District dropped 25% in 2009.[40] The closure rate for homicide cases rose to 70%.[36] In his "State of the District" speech, the Mayor reported that homicides were at their "lowest level since 1964" and that "both violent crimes and property crimes" had experienced a double-digit decline.[36]

Fenty has championed development efforts across the district. Across the district, several schools, libraries, parks and recreation centers have been renovated to offer state-of-the-art facilities for residents, youth and families. There have been many improvements made to recreational play spaces for children: Under Fenty, 16 neighborhood and school playgrounds were opened and 9 play courts and fields were completed.[36] Under his leadership, the District's largest shopping center, the D.C. USA Shopping Center, was opened.[source?] New developments, such as the Camp Simms retail development, have infused new life into the neighborhood with a retail grocery store and a sit-down restaurant east of the Anacostia River.[source?] Renovation of affordable housing units helped provide housing during tough economic times.

The Fenty Administration also expanded health care coverage for the uninsured and established thousands of units of affordable housing, while creating the "Housing First" program to provide permanent supportive housing for the district's homeless. The administration also reduced the backlog of Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations by improving the retention of social workers, increasing recruitment of social workers to fill vacancies, and building a quality, experienced leadership. Additionally, the Fenty Administration improved the delivery of emergency medical services. It also finalized the sale of Greater Southeast Community Hospital (now United Medical Center) in a public-private partnership that kept the facility open for patients east of the Anacostia River.[32]

In December 2009, Fenty signed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Act of 2009 to legalize same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia.[41] During the signing ceremony, Mayor Fenty and other attending district officials expressed their support for the gay rights movement by expressing "they want the District to provide a road map for gay rights activists as the debate over same-sex marriage...moves across the nation..."[41]


Mayor Fenty and his administration came under attack from political opponents. Council Chair Gray complained that Fenty did not share with the district council tickets donated by a local sports arena. Chair Gray demanded that Fenty hand the tickets over to him so Gray could have control of them.

The D.C. council also charged that Fenty circumvented them in making contracts for park improvements. Rather than treat them as district contracts, the contracts were made with the D.C. Housing Agency.

Unsuccessful 2010 re-election campaignEdit

Fenty officially launched his reelection bid on April 10, 2010, at his campaign headquarters at 5929 Georgia Avenue, NW, in Washington, D.C.’s Brightwood neighborhood.[42] The Fenty campaign's headquarters were located on the site of the old Curtis Chevrolet dealership within Ward 4, the ward in which Fenty began his political career as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in ANC 4C.

Fenty faced ten candidates in the District's September 14, 2010, Democratic primary.[43] On July 31, 2009 (13½ months before the 2010 primary), Fenty's 2010 mayoral campaign passed the 2006 primary fundraising total of $2.4 million.[44]

On August 1, 2010, the editorial board of The Washington Post officially endorsed Fenty. Washington City Paper followed on September 9.[45]

One primary candidate in particular, Sulaimon Brown devoted his efforts to attacking Fenty rather than establishing his own positive campaign.[46] After the election, Brown was given a $110,000 per year job in the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance within the new administration. However, Brown was later fired because of questions about his past. In March 2011, Congress announced an investigation into the hiring of Brown.[47][48]

A Washington Post poll released on Aug. 29 found Gray with a 17-point lead among likely voters.[49] A Clarus poll conducted September 7 gave Gray a 7-point lead among likely voters,[50] and a Public Policy Polling survey sponsored by WAMU-FM radio and Washington City Paper showed an 11 percent lead for Gray.[51]

Fenty lost the Democratic primary election to Vincent C. Gray.[52] Gray received 53 percent of the vote to Fenty's 46 percent.[52] Following the reporting of the results, Fenty called it highly unlikely he would run for public office again.[53]

While Fenty received the most write-in votes for mayor in the Republican primary election, Fenty had previously said he would not accept the Republican nomination.[54]

After politicsEdit

Fenty signed with Greater Talent Network, a major speakers bureau, in January 2011.[55] The same month, Fenty became an outside adviser and counsel to Heffler, Radetich & Saitta, an accounting and consulting firm based in Philadelphia.[56] Also in January 2011, it was announced that Fenty would become a distinguished visiting professor of politics, a featured lecturer and a career adviser in the Department of African American Studies at Oberlin College.[57] In February 2011, Fenty became an outside adviser to Rosetta Stone, which produces foreign language learning software.[58] In March 2011, Fenty became a strategic adviser for the state and local government practice of Capgemini Government Solutions LLC, an information technology consulting firm.[59] In May 2011, Fenty became a member of the advisory board of EverFi Inc., an online education and certification firm.[60] In July 2011, Fenty joined the law firm Klores Perry Mitchell P.C. as special counsel.[61]

On the Morning Joe broadcast on March 8, 2011, Adrian Fenty backed Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker's union-busting bill and said that the Democratic state senators should be held accountable.[62]

Election historyEdit

2000 Council of the District of Columbia, Ward 4, Democratic Primary Election[13]

Adrian Fenty (D) 57%
Charlene Drew Jarvis (D) 43%
Write-in 0%

2000 Council of the District of Columbia, Ward 4, General Election[14]

Adrian Fenty (D) 89%
Renée Bowser (STG) 11%
Write-in 0%

2004 Council of the District of Columbia, Ward 4, Democratic Primary Election[15]

Adrian Fenty (D) 99%
Write-in 1%

2004 Council of the District of Columbia, Ward 4, General Election[16]

Adrian Fenty (D) 99%
Write-in 1%

2006 Mayor of the District of Columbia, Democratic Primary Election[24]

Adrian Fenty (D) 57%
Linda Cropp (D) 31%
Marie Johns (D) 8%
Vincent Orange (D) 3%
Michael A. Brown (D) 1%
Artee (RT) Milligan (D) 0%
Nestor Djonkam (D) 0%
Write-in 0%

2006 Mayor of the District of Columbia, General Election[26]

Adrian Fenty (D) 89%
David W. Kranich (R) 6%
Chris Otten (STG) 4%
Write-in 1%


  1. "Voters Guide 2006 Supplement" (PDF). The Washington Informer. 2006-09-24. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2011-07-24.
  2. Libby, Lewis (November 13, 2006). "The Nation's Capital Gets a New Mayor". National Public Radio. Retrieved May 4, 2007.
  3. Washington Post editorial board, "Adrian Fenty in the Democratic Primary for DC Mayor," "Washington Post," Sunday, August 1, 2010.
  4. Jaffe, Harry (November 2008). "Adrian Fenty: Born to Run". The Washingtonian. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
  5. "Fleet Feet D.C.". About Us. Staff. Retrieved on May 4, 2007.
  6. "Cherry Blossom Ten Miler searchable results, 2003–2009". Archived from the original on April 16, 2010. Retrieved April 11, 2010.
  7. Jaffe, Harry (November 2008). "Adrian Fenty: Born to Run". Washingtonian. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  8. "About Adrian Archived 2007-12-04 at the Wayback Machine." Fenty 2006 campaign website. Retrieved on May 4, 2007.
  9. David Nakamura and V. Dion Haynes (October 19, 2006). "Kwame Jackson Promotes Fenty". The Washington Post. p. DZ02. Retrieved May 4, 2007.
  10. Roberts, Roxanne; Argetsinger, Amy (November 24, 2008). "Mayor Fenty's Family Welcomes Baby Girl". The Washington Post.
  11. David Nakamura (May 30, 2008). "Fenty's Fitness for Office". The Washington Post.
  12. Chan, Sewell (2000-09-13). "Council Member Jarvis Ousted in D.C. Primary; Fenty Defeats Veteran Lawmaker". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2011-05-16. Retrieved 2007-05-19.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Final and Complete Election Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. 2000-09-22.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Final and Complete Election Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. 2000-11-17.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Certified Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. 2004-09-14.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Certified Summary Results" (PDF). District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. 2004-11-18.
  17. Nakamura, David (2006-08-21). "Cropp and Fenty Have Pursued Their Legislative Agendas By Opposite Means". The Washington Post. p. A01. Retrieved 2007-05-19.
  18. "Mayors Against Illegal Guns: Coalition Members". Archived from the original on 2007-03-05. Retrieved 2011-07-24.
  19. Austermuhle, Martine (2007-08-27). "Fenty Ponders Blackberry Spokesman Role". Archived from the original on 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2007-08-29.
  20. Montgomery, Lori; Nikita Stewart (2006-06-13). "Vocal Critic Of Mayor Leads in Fundraising". The Washington Post. p. B04. Retrieved 2007-05-19.
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  22. Silverman, Elissa; Lori Montgomery (2006-08-22). "New Cropp Fliers Attack Fenty". The Washington Post. p. B02. Retrieved 2007-05-19.
  23. Montgomery, Lori (2006-09-14). "In Sweep, Fenty Draws On Uniting To Conquer". The Washington Post. p. A01. Retrieved 2007-05-19.
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Certified Election Night Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. 2006-09-26.
  25. "Washington, D.C. Full Ballot, Local Elections 2006". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-05-19.
  26. 26.0 26.1 "Certified Official Results Report" (PDF). District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. 2006-11-21.
  27. Q&A Cafe: Adrian Fenty on DC Politics part 2. YouTube (2007-12-16). Retrieved on 2010-11-13.
  28. David A. Vise (November 16, 1996). "D.C. Control Board Takes Charge of Public Schools". Washington Post. p. A01.
  29. David Nakamura (April 20, 2007). "Fenty's School Takeover Approved". Washington Post.
  30. David Nakamura (May 23, 2007). "Senate Approves D.C. School Takeover Plan". Washington Post.
  31. 31.0 31.1 David Nakamura (June 12, 2007). "Fenty to Oust Janey Today". Washington Post.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 "Biography: Adrian Fenty"[permanent dead link], Mayor's Website, Washington, DC
  33. Emerling, Gary (2007-06-13). "Fenty takes control of public schools". The Washington Times.
  34. Bill Turque (July 14, 2009). "D.C. Schools Show Progress on Tests". Washington Post.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee (Oct 30, 2010). "How to Reform the Education - The Education Manifesto". Wall Street Journal.
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 36.4 Mayor Archived 2010-05-27 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2010-11-13.
  37. PSAT/NMSQT – The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Retrieved on 2010-11-13.
  38. Nikita Stewart (Aug 28, 2010). "Poll shows D.C. Mayor Fenty getting more credit than support in primary race against Gray". Washington Post.
  39. She's the Chief – ABC News. (2007-01-29). Retrieved on 2010-11-13.
  40. Paul Wagner (December 28, 2009). "DC Murder Rate Lowest in 45 Years". myfoxdc.
  41. 41.0 41.1 Craig, Tim (2009-12-19). "Washington Mayor Fenty signs same-sex marriage bill". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-12-19.
  42. Stewart, Nikita. "D.C. Mayor Fenty defends management style as he begins campaign for second term." Washington Post. April 11, 2010.
  43. DC Board of Elections and Ethics. "List of Candidates for the September 14, 2010 Mayoral Primary Election." July 10, 2010.
  44. Abruzzese, Sarah (August 4, 2009). "Fenty campaign collections beat '06's take". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  45. Editorial, Adrian Fenty: The Jerk D.C. Needs, Washington CityPaper, September 10, 2010.
  46. Nikita Stewart; Tim Craig (February 25, 2011). "Sulaimon Brown, aide to D.C. mayor, is fired after allegations of criminal record". Washington Post. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  47. Cella, Matthew (March 17, 2011). "House panel to investigate claims of Gray race payoffs". Washington Times. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  48. "Oversight Committee Investigating Allegations Surrounding D.C. Mayor's Office". Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. March 17, 2011. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  49. 2010 D.C. mayor's race poll
  50. "Second straight poll spells trouble for D.C. Mayor".
  51. "Sneak Preview of City Paper/Kojo Nnamdi Show Poll!". Washington City Paper. 8 September 2010.
  52. 52.0 52.1 Craig, Tim; Stewart, Nikita (September 15, 2010). "Gray defeats Fenty as voters choose conciliatory approach over brash tactics". The Washington Post.
  53. Morello, Carol; Stewart, Nikita (September 15, 2010). "Fenty pledges support for Gray, says he won't run for office again". The Washington Post.
  54. Orvetti, P.J. (September 17, 2010). "The Write Stuff". WRZ-TV. NBC Universal.
  55. DeBonis, Mike (January 4, 2011). "Adrian Fenty signs with speakers bureau as 'education advocate'". The Washington Post.
  56. Stewart, Nikita R (January 13, 2011). "Fenty lands gig with Philadelphia-based firm". The Washington Post.
  57. Stewart, Nikita (January 19, 2011). "Fenty to teach at Oberlin in the fall". The Washington Post.
  58. Clabaugh, Jeff (February 3, 2011). "Adrian Fenty joins Rosetta Stone as adviser". Washington Business Journal.
  59. Clabaugh, Jeff (March 15, 2011). "Adrian Fenty tapped as Capgemini Government Solutions adviser". Washington Business Journal.
  60. Clabaugh, Jeff (May 11, 2011). "Adrian Fenty joins D.C.-based EverFi". Washington Business Journal.
  61. "Fenty Joins Local Law Firm". WRC-TV. NBCUniversal Inc. July 14, 2011.
  62. DeBonis, Mike (March 8, 2011). "Fenty backs Gov. Scott Walker in Wisc. union fight". The Washington Post.

Other websitesEdit

Council of the District of Columbia
Preceded by
Charlene Drew Jarvis
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
from Ward 4

Succeeded by
Muriel Bowser
Political offices
Preceded by
Anthony Williams
Mayor of the District of Columbia
Succeeded by
Vincent Gray