Marion Barry completed his remarkable political comeback from disgrace Monday, retaking the mayoral office he left in 1991 after being caught on videotape smoking crackcocaine in a downtown hotel room.
As the nation’s capital faced a $500 million budget deficit that will force severe cuts in municipal services, Barry pledged in his inaugural speech to “shape a government that is compassionate but yet efficient.”
“I know we can do this, because I’ve done it,” the mayor told a crowd of 2,500 at the University of the District of Columbia.
“If Marion Barry can do it, then my city can get off its knees and rise up and believe in itself again.”
Just four years ago, Barry, 58, ended his first three terms as mayor in disgrace.
He was convicted of misdemeanor drug possession stemming from his 1990 arrest during an FBI undercover operation that lured him to the downtown hotel room of a former girlfriend. He served six months in prison.
The comeback trail began in 1992 when Barry, saying he had conquered drug addiction, won election to the City Council.
Last fall, Barry campaigned successfully for a fourth mayoral term on a platform of personal redemption.
He defeated incumbent Sharon Pratt Kelly in the Democratic primary and easily winning the general election.
In his inaugural speech, Barry promised to apply the determination used to overcome his drug habit to end the city’s drug violence, rebuild a deteriorating school system and expand an eroding tax base.
“I see myself as a modern day Nehemiah, facing an inner city where too many of our teenagers are killing one another, where the quality of life seems to be deteriorating, violence on every hand, spirits broken,” Barry said.