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Posted at 5:43 PM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Fenty holds fast to 'tough decisions' rhetoric

By Mike DeBonis

Former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty sat down recently with columnist Steven Pearlstein for the Post's On Leadership series.

In the videotaped chat, Fenty addressed his leadership style and how it related to his political fortunes, remaining resolute in attributing his shocking primary defeat last September to "tough decisions" he made as mayor.

And, continuing a theme of his ex-mayoralty, Fenty continued to tout his leadership on reforming the city's public schools -- starting with the hiring of his controversial chancellor.

"Bringing in Michelle Rhee was the best appointment that I made," he said. "The opportunity to change the schools as much as we did in four years was singlehandedly, probably the most important thing I'll ever get the opportunity to do as a human being."

More generally, Fenty attributes his loss to his policy decisions -- not the political failings pundits (including myself) have more typically identified.

Says Fenty: "The opposition that we had in this election was something that for the most part came about because of decisions we made. We made a lot of really tough decisions -- close one-sixth of our schools, or fire as many employees as we did, or change the taxicab sytstem from zones to meters ... you're going to, one by one, hundred by hundred, maybe thousand by thousand, you're going to upset some people. ...

"People too often, when they first get elected they become too focused on getting re-elected, and tough decisionmaking goes by the wayside. So the question is: Are you a successful leader by getting re-elected? Or are you a successful leader by what you do in the terms you happen to be in office? I define it by the latter."

By Mike DeBonis  | February 2, 2011; 5:43 PM ET
Categories:  Adrian Fenty, The District  
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