Tom Sherwood’s Notebook: Carol Schwartz (no, she’s not running) …


Carol Schwartz has been active in D.C. politics for decades. (photo courtesy of Carol Schwartz)

Carol Schwartz has something to say.

And it takes her 745 pages to do it.

The former school board member, D.C. Council representative and five-time mayoral candidate is out with her new self-published book, “Quite a Life: From Defeat to Defeat … and Back.”

She jokes that she initially intended to call it, “An Interesting Life — But Don’t Ask Me to Live It Again.”

But Schwartz does live it again in her book. And she says it’s the whole story. It’s self-published because she wanted total control over its content and “nobody was beating the door down” to publish it, she said.

Schwartz, 73, has a website ( to order her book or schedule a book party. She has begun a local book tour. She’s hitting all eight wards. But she’s not thinking of running again. She laughs and vigorously shakes her head “no” at even the suggestion.

The book is $30.

So what’s in it?

Well, among many other things, she says it puts to rest rumors that she and political villain-friend Marion Barry ever had sex.

“It wasn’t for his want of trying,” she laughed during a book stop Sunday at the Dupont Italian Kitchen. A friendly crowd ate pizza as she regaled her audience. “He tried with everybody,” Schwartz explained. “I would have been insulted if he hadn’t tried with me.”

There was knowing laughter about Barry. But the current outrage over sexual harassment in the workplace was not lost on Schwartz. She said she always felt like Barry’s equal as an elected official and was never intimidated. She agreed that too many women, including herself in younger years, faced and still face outrageous sexism and harassment.

The book also chronicles her early life in Midland, Texas, where Jewish families were few and her “abusive” father was “brutal.”

She recalls as early as age 4 her father “throwing a pot of hot soup across our small living room at my mother. It was so scary. But little did I know at four, it was just the beginning of many such experiences which made me frightened my whole life.”

About the mayoral races, she says she feels the media gave some mayors and candidates “free rides” while she was held to tough standards as a Republican in a Democratic city.

Much of the book, of course, is looking back. Some political opponents may disagree with her interpretations, but as Schwartz says, it’s her record. She writes that 1998 opponent Anthony Williams “feigned” the draft-Tony movement that got him started.

But for almost everyone who may be on the end of a critical remark, Schwartz also has something nice to say. That’s not true of former at-large Council member David Catania and her rocky time with him. “We were friendly, or so I thought,” she writes dismissively. Catania helped get her defeated in 2008.

The Notebook asked Schwartz if her political memoir — which also includes current issues — might get her in trouble, given her blunt assessment of people, politics and places.

Trouble because Schwartz is a sitting member of the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, which “investigates alleged ethics laws violations by District government employees and public officials.”

As for her current role on the board, she told the Notebook, “Where I talk about local issues, it’s usually in the past tense. Where I speak of a few that are more present tense, that may be more debatable.” She says she didn’t tell the board or virtually anyone about her memoir because she wanted to get it done without distractions.

Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Schwartz to the ethics board after winning the 2014 race for mayor. Schwartz also ran that year. Many thought her campaign was an effort to sabotage — pay back — Catania, who was also running as an independent in the general election. Schwartz denies that allegation.

She acknowledges the book of personal and political ups and downs is long. “It could have been 1,500 pages,” she writes. “It’s not a tweet. It’s my life.”

■ The Confederacy, reconsidered. We jump over to Virginia for two new developments in the ongoing debate over Confederate memorials and memories.

Christ Church in Alexandria is 244 years old. Its leadership took a dramatic step this week.

George Washington was a founding member. Ever since 1870 — that’s 1870 — twin plaques on the altar wall have honored Washington and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose family also worshiped there. The twin plaques were put up just two months after Lee died. They were not thrown up in the 1950s when Southerners began erecting all sorts of Confederate memorials in the wake of civil rights and school desegregation efforts.

The church vestry decided this week to remove both plaques and reposition them somewhere on church property where Lee’s full history can be put in context.

Why not just leave up Washington and take down Lee?

“We want to put them together, in places where we can tell the story of their religious history, the story of their connection with our parish,” said the Rev. Noelle York-Simmons, rector of Christ Church. She acknowledged some people would be angry but said the racial violence in Charlottesville in August had prompted the church’s move. The presence of Lee had long bothered many in the church, but just removing Lee would have disrupted the balance in the sanctuary.

“We are not removing George Washington from our community,” the rector told us. She said a large plaque about George Washington will remain at the church entry. Smaller plaques noting where the Washington and Lee families sat or kneeled also will remain.

Also in Virginia, Fairfax County this past week agreed to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School. It was named for the Confederate in 1959. It was seen as resistance to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision on desegregating schools.

Fairfax was a far different place then. Now, the name no longer was a source of pride or resistance. The new name? “Justice High School.”

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.