Sharon Pratt Dixon took office Wednesday as mayor of the District of Columbia, pledging to combat “drugs and crime, racial polarization and the mounting financial problems” confronting the nation’s capital.
Dixon is the first black woman to head a city of Washington’s size and importance, and her inaugural ceremonies were attended by many of the nation’s most prominent black politicians.
Dixon, who won a multi-candidate scramble to succeed Marion Barry after pledging to fight government waste and corruption, vigorously stated that theme in her inaugural address.
“We have too few people in the right jobs and too many people in jobs that shouldn’t even exist,” she said. “We have a system of governing from the 1970s striving to serve a city that has already moved into the 1990s.
” . . . What the people of Washington want most is an honest deal.”
Barry, a three-term mayor, was convicted last summer of cocaine possession and faces a six-month prison sentence. He lost a bid for the City Council in November after deciding against seeking another term as mayor.
In brief remarks at Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony, he pledged to support Dixon and thanked city residents “for your prayers, your faith and your steadfastness.” Before the ceremony, he said he felt “a little bit of sadness.”
Dixon, who had never held elective office, is a former utility company executive and former treasurer of the Democratic National Committee.
Among those attending the ceremonies were Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the nation’s only black governor; the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who took office Wednesday as the District of Columbia’s “shadow senator” to lobby Congress for statehood; Ron Brown, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dixon wore a purple dress and overcoat as she took the oath of office, with her daughters, Drew and Aimee, at her side. Behind a roped-off area holding campaign aides, city officials and others, several hundred schoolchildren gathered to watch.
In a symbol of the openness she says she wants to establish, Dixon greeted well-wishers in her City Hall office before attending an evening gala ball at Union Station, the city’s refurbished train depot.