Fenty-Gray debate: The mayor says he'll adjust his governing style

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty on Wednesday directly addressed what has become a consistent theme in his bid for a second term — concerns about his hard-charging style — by saying he would tweak his management techniques if elected to another term.

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Adrian Fenty and Vince Gray debate on TBD. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

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Fenty, Gray get into actual issues on TBD NewsTalk

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"One of the things that's just obvious about me is, I focus so hard on just going 100 miles an hour and getting things done," Fenty said during a TBD NewsTalk debate. "You know, as councilmember, I think it was OK ... as mayor, you've got to make an adjustment. I did not make that adjustment like I should have."

Fenty and his main challenger in the Democratic primary, Council Chairman Vince Gray, met in the live morning debate, moderated by TBD’s Bruce DePuyt. Fenty's willingness to communicate with the D.C. Council also came up during a discussion of the District's summer youth employment program.

"Anybody who criticizes me and says, the mayor can do a better job including people, the mayor can listen better — I think all of those are valid criticisms," Fenty said. "It's absolutely something that I've got to work harder on in my next term."

Gray said he hasn't had a one-on-one meeting with Fenty in months.

"You cannot run a city that way," Gray said.

The debate also touched on education issues, with Gray saying he "heartily" supports education reform in the District.

"We will continue with aggressive, assertive, education reform in the District of Columbia," Gray said. "We will not go back to a Board of Education. We will have mayoral control, mayoral leadership, we will have an empowered chancellor who will run our schools in the District of Columbia."

He stopped short of committing to retain D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who has said she will only work in a school system where she felt she had the total support of the mayor.

"Education reform needs to institutionalized across this city," Gray said. "It should not be a question on whether it's Adrian Fenty alone, whether it's Vince Gray alone, whether it's Michelle Rhee alone. We've got to work hard to institutionalize education reform in the District of Columbia."

Fenty called Gray's silence on the matter "very telling in how much education reform he would be willing to stomach."

"At repeated debates, we've been asked whether we would keep them and I've always said absolutely," Fenty said. "My opinion, like so many other thousands of District residents, I see her as not only a transformational figure but someone who has already in three years, directly improved the outcomes for children."

The D.C. mayoral primary is Sept. 14.

TBD's Erik Wemple live-blogged the debate. The Washington Post's Mike DeBonis has a wrap-up, as does DCist.

TBD's Facts Machine hosted a chat during the debate and is still fact checking a few things.

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