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Council races draw a crowd
(Published March 20, 2006)

Public interest in this fall's mayoral election was sparked early when Mayor Anthony A. Williams announced he would not seek a third term.

But less attention has focused, at this point, on the races for D.C. City Council in which voters will elect a majority of the 13-member body in November. Seven seats will be on the ballot and four of them, including the chairmanship, will have wide-open races with no incumbent on the ballot.

Petitions become available May 12 for candidates seeking a ballot position in the Democratic, Republican or D.C. Statehood Green primaries on Sept. 12, when members of those major parties will select their nominees for the November general election. Candidates affiliated with minor parties or running as independents, without party affiliation, run only in the Nov. 7 election.

In addition to the mayor and council races, voters this year will elect the District's delegate to Congress, a "shadow" U.S. representative and senator to lobby for statehood, the D.C. Board of Education president, school board members for Districts III and IV, and all advisory neighborhood commissioners.

Before petitioning begins, candidates may file their formal declaration of candidacy with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics or their official campaign committee may file a statement of organization with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance. Public disclosure reporting deadlines must be met by campaign committees when they begin accepting contributions or spending money. The next reporting deadline is June 10.

Here's how the council races are shaping up so far, with information taken from official documents:

CHAIRMAN Incumbent Linda Cropp has opted to seek the mayor's office this fall, so the race is wide open. So far officially in the race are Councilwoman Kathy Patterson, D-Ward 3; Councilman Vincent Gray, D-Ward 7, and Robert Brannum, an advisory neighborhood commissioner. All three are running as Democrats.

AT-LARGE Incumbents Phil Mendelsen, a Democrat, and David Catania, an independent who left the Republican Party, are seeking re-election. Also officially in the race are Democrat A. Scott Bolden and Republican Antonio D. Dominguez. D.C. law requires two of the District's four at-large council seats to be reserved for individuals who are not affiliated with the city's majority political party and Democrat Kwame Brown already holds one seat, so Democrats are barred from winning more than one of the two seats up for election this fall. However, the law does not reserve seats for Democrats, so voters could choose to elect two non-Democrats to the at-large seats.

WARD 1 Incumbent Jim Graham, a Democrat, recently announced his intention to seek re-election. Democratic challenger Chad Williams has officially entered the race.

WARD 3 Incumbent Kathy Patterson is seeking the council chairman's office, so the race is wide open and crowded. So far officially in the race, all running as Democrats, are Sam Brooks, Mary Cheh, Erik Gaull, Robert Gordon, Jonathan Rees and Catherine Wiss.

WARD 5 Incumbent Vincent Orange is seeking the mayor's office, so the race is wide open and crowded in a ward that in the past has seen as many as a dozen candidates vying for election. Officially in the race so far, all running as Democrats, are Joe Harris III, Regina James, Bruce Marshall, Audrey Ray, Steve Rynecki, Frank Wilds, Vera Winfield and Raenelle Zapata.

WARD 6 Incumbent Sharon Ambrose is retiring when her term ends, so the race is wide open and crowded. Officially in the race so far, all running as Democrats, are William Cobb, Curtis Etherly Jr., G. Keith Jarrell, Keith Perry, Leo Pinson and Tommy Wells.

Copyright 2006 The Common Denominator