D.C. At-Large Race

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By K. Levek

Election season is upon the District- again. Turnover in D.C. politics has been constant since 2010 and this year is no different. There is a special election on April 23rd to fill the now vacant seat of Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) who won the chairmanship in 2012. Mendelson was Chairman-elect after then chairman Kwame Brown (D) stepped down due to tax fraud.

In December, the D.C. Democratic State Committee appointed Anita Bonds (D) to temporarily fill the citywide at-large seat vacated by Mendelson (D) when he became council chairman. But Bonds, chairwoman of the city Democratic Committee, is competing against six other candidates and has her competition cut out for her.

Bonds has been endorsed by fellow woman councilmember’s Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and former mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly. However the Washington Post has endorsed Patrick Mara, the lone Republican in the race.

The editorial board of the Post has said that he is the best choice for the At-Large seat. In their endorsement they stated that Mara has a, “keen appreciation for the importance of education and the need for continued reforms” and “long before ethics became a flash point for a council battered by the missteps of its members, Mr. Mara was committed to integrity and strengthened ethics in government.”

Still Mara isn’t the only other major contender in the race. Former At-Large Councilmember Michael Brown has thrown his hat back into the rink, this time as a Democrat, changing parties after loosing the Independent At-Large race to David Grosso last year. Brown won the Ward 8 Democrats straw poll, but failed to secure their endorsement, with little voter turnout from the ward.

The other four candidates in the race, attorney Paul Zuckerburg (D), former Post journalist Elissa Silverman and Ward 3 activist, attorney Matthew Furmin and community leader Perry Redd. Zuckerburg has made himself the people’s voice on how marijuana laws make criminals out of too many of the District’s young people. During each of the forums he can be heard speaking about why the marijuana laws should be changed.

Greater Greater Washington endorsed Elissa Silverman stating on their website, “Ms. Silverman has a clear commitment to reforming government ethics from her work advancing DC’s Initiative 70, the recent proposed ballot initiative.” Silverman is a former budget analyst and was previous report for the Washington Post and was the “Loose Lips” writer for the Washington City Paper. Former D.C. Councilmember Sharon Ambrose has also thrown her support behind Silverman, saying that Silverman’s “integrity is needed” on the council.

Meanwhile, Bonds won the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations straw poll with 47% of the vote. Silverman came in second place with a far 17% behind Bonds’s victory. Mara did not fair too well in this mock election, placing 6th with only 4%.

For more information about the upcoming race check out the DC Board of Elections website: www.dcboee.org

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