At-Large Election Has Heads Spinning Again

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an election coming up.

It’s yet another special election for the at-large seat vacated by D.C. City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson when he became chairman. The election is April 23, the field is large, the turnout is expected to be low, which it shouldn’t be, but probably will be, given the track records of past elections.

This particular election, though, has the potential to be a bellwether election for what is a city in a state of flux and change, and surprisingly—given the economies surrounding jurisdictions and across the country—with a robust economy and a substantial budget surplus. It occurs at a time when the major issue still seems to be ethics—past infringements by the likes of former Chairman Kwame Brown and Ward 5 Councilman Harry Thomas Jr., the latter languishing in prison, as well as the recent reprimand of Ward One Councilman Jim Graham, and the continued cloud of the District Attorney Office’s ongoing investigation of Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign. Mayor Gray, with a rousing State of the District address, is sounding confident these days, while some challengers are lining up to shoot for his job, notably among them Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser, who officially announced that she will run. Others—Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells and Ward 2 Council Jack Evans—are said to be exploring (Wells) or not saying no (Evans).

The race could be an indication how thing will go in the 2014 mayoral race, and may have a lot to say about where the power is in a shifting and changing city population on issues such as schools, the homeless, what to do with the surplus, statehood, relationships with congress, and affordable housing, as well as crime.

The race has attracted some predictable folks—Michael Brown, for instance, after being ousted from his at-large seat in the last special election in which he ran as an independent, is back again, this time as a Democrat, his true calling, we presume, since he started out that way. Anita Bonds, a familiar face and figure as a government official and adviser, for years, working with Mayors Barry and Williams, is holding down the seat as an interim council member and has drawn some advantage of name recognition for that. And back again is Patrick Mara, a Republican and a school board member who was narrowly defeated by Vincent Orange in a previous election.★

The Georgetown Business Association will host an at-large candidates forum at Tony & Joe’s Restaurant, April 1, 6:30 p.m.

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Fri, 1 Aug 2014 01:46:53 -0400

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