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Cafritz supports Gray for mayor -- but also wants school reform continuity

Former D.C. School Board member Peggy Cooper Cafritz, a well-known socialite and patron of the arts, said Wednesday night she is supporting Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) in the mayor's race.

But if you were one of the 250 people who attended the D.C. Appleseed dinner that night, you would have never known that Cafritz is rooting for Gray over Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in the September Democratic primary.

D.C. Appleseed honored Cafritz with a community achievement award for her record of supporting public education. When Cafritz took the stage, she immediately began telling the crowd of lawyers and community leaders that they need to be "very careful over the next few months" not to do anything to upset ongoing school reform efforts.

"In Washington D.C. we have the tendency to change one thing before we give it a chance to work," said Cafritz, in what appeared to an endorsement of Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

With Gray supporters squirming in their seats, Cafrtiz later added: "If you see one thing and think it's strong, stick with it."

In an interview after the dinner, Cafritz cautioned her speech wasn't designed to try to influence in the mayor's race. In fact, she told the Washington Post she's willing to go public for the first time with her support for Gray.

"He is incredibly smart and he has really devoted his career to public service," said Cafrtiz, who is still trying to recover from the fire that destroyed her mansion on Chain Bridge Road in July. "He's got a tremendous amount of substance and is also a very hard worker."

Cafrtiz, who has known Gray since they were young adults, added voters shouldn't automatically assume a vote for Gray will lead to the ouster of Rhee, whom she supports.

"I know there is tremendous amount of opposition [to Rhee] in some circles and she has at time had an alienating style," Cafritz said. "Whoever comes in [to the mayor's office], will have to have a heart to heart with her, but she has had to make some tough decisions. Change isn't easy."

--Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  |  May 20, 2010; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Education , Mayor Fenty , Tim Craig , Vincent C. Gray  
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Cafritz should remember that she along with the entire Ellington community were completely left out of (and blindsided by) Rhee's decision to move Duke Ellington. Rhee had moved so far along the process that she even developed a pretty comprehensive plan.

This is one of Rhee's biggest problems- lack of transparency and refusing to engage most parents and communities in major decisions.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | May 20, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Cafritz endorsement of Vince Gray is great. Her only problem is she seems to think Rhee and Fenty know what they are doing, as it pertains to schools, and school reform. Rhee and Fenty are the worse two individuals to even try to run a school system. Neither one, has any experience. Both are too young, they think they do not have to involve the parents, teachers, stakeholders, and children in planning school-based initiatives. I think that Fenty could have put Rhee in check a long time ago. Perhaps the next mayor will.

Posted by: fivetogo | May 20, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

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