Special Election Shape Up

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It’s election time in Washington, DC again.  With last year’s hotly contested mayoral race and the current scandals that are rocking D.C. government, many voters are apathetic to another race.  This one is a special election to fill the vacant seat left by Kwame Brown (D), now the Chairman of the city’s council. The position is for At-Large Council Member and the election is Tuesday April 26th.

Potential candidates were allowed to pick up petition ballots a few days before Christmas.  Nearly 11 people picked up ballots with the charge to get 3,000 signatures by mid February in order to secure a spot on the ballot.  Meanwhile, the DC Democratic State Committee, with the Council’s approval, decided they would appoint someone interim council member until the vacancy is filled. After a hard fought battle between the two top contenders, Sekou Biddle, former Ward 4 State Board of Education Member and Vincent Orange, former Ward 5 Council Member, Biddle was selected as the interim, in what has been described by many as ‘back door dealing.’  Although Biddle is the interim, voters still have the opportunity to elect whom they believe will best represent them.

The 3,000 petition signatures needed by each candidate would qualify them to have their names placed on the ballot. After the petitions were due there was a challenge period and Ward 8 top contender Jacque Patterson, Managing Director of Federal City Council, was knocked off the ballot.  He has since thrown his support behind Vincent Orange.  Other candidates whose ballots were challenged included Bryan Weaver, Ward 1 Community Activist and Patrick Mara, Ward State Board of Education Member and the lone Republican running in the race.  Although challenged, both made the ballot.  Other candidates who made the ballot include Dorothy Douglass, Ward 7 State Board of Education Member, Joshua Lopez, former Ward 4 ANC Commissioner and former Fenty aide, Tom Brown, Ward 7 Community Activist, Alan Page, Ward 6 resident and Green Party candidate and Arkan Haile, Ward 6 resident and Independent candidate.

Over the course of this race several forums, endorsement forums and events have ensued where candidates are allowed to debate against each other to prove their worthiness for the position.  Some candidates have picked up major endorsements from big unions and clubs and others have received endorsements from city leaders.  Sekou Biddle, who has been supported by Council chair Kwame Brown (D) and Mayor Vincent Gray (D) has been endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club.  Council members David Catania (I-At large) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) have endorsed him and he is also being supported by Council members Yvette D. Alexander (D-Ward 7), Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5).

Vincent Orange has also picked up an endorsement from the Ward 8 Democrats, Washington DC Building & Construction Trades Council (“Trades Council”), and the largest DC government union, he American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (“AFSCME”) has endorsed him.  He also has picked up another big endorsement from the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO.

Joshua Lopez has also received his share of endorsements form Civil rights legend Lawrence Guyot, Woman’s rights activist Faye Williams, Union activist Arturo Griffith, Affordable Housing activist Tony Norman, and past and present ANC commission members Barbara Young, Phillip Thomas, William Ellis, M. A. “Doll” Fitzgerald and Sinclair Skinner. Bryan Weaver picked up the YouthPac endorsement.

You can check out many of the candidates at local forums throughout the city. Upcoming forums include April 5th Georgia Ave. Economic Development Steering Committee 6:30pm held at Peoples Congregational UCC (4704 13th St. NW, near Decatur), April 11th Ward 4 Crestwood Neighborhood Association Forum from 7-9pm held at Zion Baptist Church (4850 Blagden Rd NW) and April 12th Washington City Paper, NBC4 and WPFW Forum from 7-9 held at the Black Cat (1811 14th St NW).

You can find out more about each candidate by visiting their websites and more about the election through the DC Board of Elections website www.dcboee.org

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