Adrian Malik Fenty (born December 6, 1970) is an American politician who served as the sixth mayor of the District of Columbia. He served one term, from 2007 to 2011, losing his bid for reelection at the primary level to Democrat Vincent C. Gray. Though Fenty won the Republican mayoral primary as a write-in candidate, he declined the Republican nomination and said he would likely not seek elected office again. Gray went on to win the general election for Mayor in the largely Democratic District.
Since leaving office, Fenty has become a special advisor at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and a member of the business development team at the law firm Perkins Coie. Fenty has held advisory and business development roles with Rosetta Stone, Everfi and CapGemini. He also serves on the Board of Directors at two nonprofits: Genesys Works-Bay Area and Fight for Children. He has also embarked on a career as a paid speaker, part-time college professor, adviser for the state and local government practice of an information technology consulting firm. Previously, Fenty was a D.C. Council member for six years. A Washington, D.C. native, Fenty is a graduate of Oberlin College and Howard University Law School.
Early life, education, and family
Fenty was born in Washington, D.C., the second of the three children of Jeanette Bianchi Perno Fenty and Phil Fenty. Fenty's mother is Italian-American. Her family immigrated to the United States from the comune of Monte San Giovanni Campano in Lazio in 1920. His father, who is originally from Buffalo, New York, has roots in Barbados and Panama. Phil and Jeanette Fenty moved to Washington, D.C., in 1967. Fenty was raised in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. While he was growing up, his parents owned and ran a Fleet Feet athletic shoe store in the D.C. neighborhood of Adams Morgan.
Fenty graduated from Mackin Catholic High School, where he ran track. He earned a B.A. in English and economics at Oberlin College, and a J.D. from the Howard University School of Law. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
Early political career
Before becoming involved in local D.C. politics, Fenty worked as an intern for U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH), U.S. House of Representatives D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-MA).
He then served as an aide to Councilmember Kevin P. Chavous, was elected to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), district 4C, and was president of the 16th Street Neighborhood Civic Association.
In 2000, Fenty won a seat on the D.C. Council, defeating longtime Ward 4 Councilmember Charlene Drew Jarvis by a margin of 57 to 43 percent after engaging in an aggressive door-to-door strategy. Unopposed in both the primary and general elections in 2004, Fenty was reelected for a second term.
The Washington Post described Fenty's performance as a Council member as "independent" and "contrarian". During his time on the Council, he opposed public funding for a new baseball stadium, saying the owners should pay for it. He proposed a $1 billion capital improvement program for the public schools—which the Council initially opposed, but eventually passed. According to the Washington Post, Fenty's legislative style was to focus on constituent services and take attention grabbing positions.
2006 mayoral campaign
Fenty began his campaign to replace retiring mayor Anthony A. Williams in 2005. Then-Council Chair Linda Cropp, businesswoman Marie Johns, then-Councilmember Vincent Orange, and lobbyist Michael A. Brown also vied for the position.
The race was widely viewed as neck-and-neck between Fenty and Cropp through the spring of 2006. Fenty ran on a platform of bringing a more energetic and hands-on approach to city government,, advancing bold ideas for change, and sticking to them. Fenty said he would take his uncompromising style to the mayor's office, and cited with approval, Margaret Thatcher's saying that, "Consensus is the absence of leadership". Cropp stressed her 25 years of experience in city government and her desire to continue the progress made by Anthony Williams, who endorsed her candidacy. She also stressed her ability to cooperate with diverse groups and reach consensus. She criticized Fenty's proposed approach to governing; being mayor, saying the mayor's job is "not just standing up and saying, 'This is what I want done,' and miraculously it's going to happen." Both candidates raised significant and nearly equal amounts of money – roughly $1.75 million through June 10, 2006 – and neither gained any significant advantages from the numerous candidate debates and forums.
By July 2006 polls showed Fenty with a roughly 10-point advantage; political observers debated whether it was due to Fenty's door-to-door campaign, Cropp's lack of engagement in the campaign, or the electorate's desire for a new direction. Cropp's campaign began running negative attack ads during the month before the primary, painting Fenty as unfit for the job and as a careless lawyer who had been admonished by the D.C. Bar, (in 2005, he received an informal admonition from the Bar for his role in a probate case in 1999). The attacks backfired. Fenty won all 142 city precincts in the Democratic Primary—a feat unparalleled in earlier mayoral elections—defeating Cropp by a 57 to 31 percent margin. He received 89 percent of the vote in the general election and became the District's sixth elected mayor since the establishment of home rule.
D.C. mayor (2007–11)
Education reform was a major focus of Fenty's mayoral tenure. On the first day of his term, he introduced legislation to vest control of the public schools in himself, rather than the elected school board. Previous attempts to reform the schools, including one in 1996 where a D.C. financial control board took charge of the schools, had failed. At the beginning of Fenty's term, student test performance scores and graduation rates were among the lowest in the nation and District residents had been demanding that the schools be "fixed". In April 2007, the D.C. Council approved Fenty's plan; the necessary legislation was approved by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in May 2007.
Under the new structure, the existing superintendent was replaced by a chancellor selected by the mayor and reporting directly to him. The power shift also allowed Fenty to make swift changes in the system's central office, alter teacher qualification requirements, and implement a school consolidation process. His selection of Michelle Rhee to manage District schools surprised the education establishment.. In choosing Rhee, Fenty consulted with national education figures including New York City School Chancellor, Joel Klein.
The restructuring has been credited with improvements. To better allocate resources, Fenty and Rhee significantly reduced the school system's central administrative staff and closed 23 schools with low enrollments. After 2007, student achievement tests at the secondary level reportedly rose 14 points in reading and 17 points in math. Student SAT scores rose 27 points in 2010. Graduation rates rose each year since 2007, and 72 percent of District students took the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), which functions as a practice test for college bound students. Fenty's administration had also taken on a major, five-year maintenance and construction effort to improve school buildings by 2014. Fenty and Rhee successfully negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with the Washington Teachers Union that establishes a system of performance-based teacher compensation.
The Fenty administration also overhauled District agencies for efficiency. His choice of a woman for police chief, Cathy Lanier, received media attention. Under Fenty, Lanier 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 potential retaliation. The homicide rate in the District dropped 25% in 2009; the homicide closure rate rose to 70%. with Fenty reporting that homicides were at their "lowest level since 1964" and that "both violent crimes and property crimes" had experienced a double-digit decline.
Fenty championed development efforts including renovating libraries, parks and recreation centers. Under Fenty, 16 neighborhood and school playgrounds were opened and nine play courts and fields were completed. The District's largest shopping center, the DC USA Shopping Center, and the Camp Simms retail development were opened, and thousands of affordable housing units were established or renovated. The "Housing First" program to provide permanent supportive housing for the city’s homeless was begun. The backlog of Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations was reduced by improving the retention of social workers, building an experienced leadership team, and increasing the recruitment of social workers to fill vacancies. Additionally, the Fenty administration improved the delivery of emergency medical services and expanded health care coverage for the uninsured. It also finalized the sale of Greater Southeast Community Hospital (now United Medical Center) in a public-private partnership that kept the facility open.
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.
While serving as mayor, Fenty was a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Thomas Menino. Fenty was known to carry three BlackBerry devices: one directly connected him to the police chief, the second was for other city business, and the third was for personal matters.
2010 re-election campaign
On July 31, 2009, Fenty's 2010 mayoral campaign chest passed the 2006 primary fundraising total of $2.4 million. Fenty officially launched his reelection bid in April 2010, defending his management style and pledging to remind voters that had made the types of tough decisions that are necessary for real change.
On August 1, 2010, the editorial board of The Washington Post officially endorsed Fenty, citing his attempts to fix the District's struggling public school system. Washington City Paper followed on September 9.
January 2010 hypothetical polling showed Gray in the lead by 4 points; a Washington Post poll of August 29 found Gray with a 17-point lead; a Clarus poll conducted September 7 gave Gray a 7-point lead; and a Public Policy Polling survey sponsored by WAMU-FM radio and Washington City Paper showed an 11 percent lead for Gray on September 8.
Fenty lost the September 14 Democratic primary to Gray by a margin of 10 points—54 percent to 44 percent. 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. Following the reporting of the primary results, Fenty called it highly unlikely he will run for public office again.
In August 2011 an investigation into the hiring practices of Mayor Vincent Gray found that during the 2010 primary, a Gray campaign official had paid another candidate, Sulaimon Brown, to disparage Fenty.
Fenty, like all District mayors and council members, had a citizen-service fund that is intended to help the residents of the District of Columbia. Much of the cash held by the fund came from the money raised during his 2006 mayoral candidacy.
Upon leaving office, District law required Fenty to donate the remaining funds in his citizen-service fund to a nonprofit organization. Two weeks prior to Fenty's last day as mayor, his chief campaign fundraiser, John Falcicchio, incorporated a social welfare organization called Forward Faster as a legacy organization to carry out Fenty's vision. Fenty donated the $440,709 remaining in his citizen-service fund to Forward Faster.
Forward Faster's board of directors consists of Falcicchio; George Simpson, Fenty's appointee to the National Capital Planning Commission); Sara Lasner, a former aide to Fenty; and Jason Washington, a former Fenty advance man. During its first year of existence, Forward Faster spent $88,700 on grants; $88,000 of salary to John Falcicchio as executive director; $49,500 to Tracy Sandler, also as executive director; and $3,000 to Jennifer Nguyen, also as another executive director.
By 2013, Simpson, Lasner, and Washington were no longer connected to the organization.
Since then, District law was changed to prohibit an elected official from incorporating a nonprofit organization at the end of his or her term in office and transferring consistent-services fund money into it.
Fenty signed with Greater Talent Network, a major speakers bureau, in January 2011. The same month, Fenty became an outside adviser and counsel to Heffler, Radetich & Saitta, an accounting and consulting firm based in Philadelphia. 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 in Ohio. In February 2011, Fenty became an outside adviser to Rosetta Stone, which produces foreign-language software. 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. In May 2011, Fenty became a member of the advisory board of EverFi Inc., an online education and certification firm. In July 2011, Fenty joined the plaintiff and litigation oriented law firm of Klores Perry Mitchell as special counsel.
On Morning Joe on March 8, 2011, Fenty backed Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker's anti-union efforts and broadly condemned the concept of public employee collective bargaining. Saying that "Most governors and mayors would love to be able to manage their team without the interference of collective bargaining", Fenty expressed his faith in the ability of managers to set fair wages and hours, and to fairly reward or hold their employees accountable. He also said that the Democratic Wisconsin senators should be held accountable for leaving the state to delay the enactment of Walker's legislation.
In 1997, Fenty married Michelle Cross Fenty, an attorney. The couple has three children—twin sons Andrew and Matthew born in 2000, and a daughter born in 2008. In January 2013, the couple officially separated.
Fenty is an amateur triathlete and runner. During his time as mayor, he participated in events such as the Nation's Triathlon and the Washington, D.C. Triathlon.
|Democratic||Charlene Drew Jarvis||6,193||43|
|D.C. Statehood Green||Renée Bowser||2,604||10|
|Democratic||Linda W. Cropp||32,897||31|
|Democratic||Michael A. Brown||650||1|
|Democratic||Artee (RT) Milligan||105||0|
|Republican||David W. Kranich||7,517||6|
|D.C. Statehood Green||Chris Otten||4,914||4|
|Democratic||Vincent C. Gray||72,648||54.27|
|Democratic||Ernest E. Johnson||317||0.24|
|Democratic||write-in, including Calvin H. Gurley||248||0.19|