A candidate who gave it his best shot for the at-large seat in the Democratic primary in April is preparing once again to run in the hopes of snatching Phil Mendelson's spot before he was elected interim chairman of the D.C. Council.
Peter Shapiro, 49, who finished third in the spring Democratic primary with 10.56 percent of the vote, said that change is needed in District politics.
"I think we have a broken political system and we need fresh new leadership," he said. "We need someone on the D.C. Council that has experience in politics but has the perspective of an outsider."
Shapiro isn't a political novice. Although he's a D.C. native, he moved to Prince George's County in 1990 and served on the Brentwood, Md., town council and then served on the Prince George's County Council from 1998-2004.
While on the county council, he served as chair for two consecutive years, notable in that the tradition is for the chairmanship to rotate among members for one-year intervals.
Shapiro gained praise from county leaders and residents for his efforts to improve public education and by upgrading the busy Route 1 corridor.
Shapiro is the director of the Chesapeake Center for Public Leadership in Northwest, which is designed to instruct leaders in the public sector on how to approach problems with innovative strategies through programs and workshops.
Mendelson appears to be a shoo-in by most political experts to win the position as the chairman of the D.C. Council permanently on November 6, in a special election. If that happens, Mendelson's seat will be declared vacant by the D.C. Board of Elections and the D.C. Democratic State Committee will choose the occupant in mid-to-late November.
The occupant will serve on the D.C. Council for approximately 90 days until a special election is held to permanently fill the seat. The election will likely take place in early March.
It's the same process that occurred when Kwame Brown became chairman of the D.C. Council in November 2010 and Sekou Biddle won the intra-party contest to serve in the position until he lost to Vincent Orange in a special election in April 2011.
Chuck Thies, a District political analyst, said that Shapiro has a chance to win the special election to the at-large D.C. Council seat in 2013.
"He spent time, effort and energy in the Democratic primary," said Thies, 47. "He probably created a base for himself and he does have name recognition."
Some political observers say that Shapiro spoiled the seat for Biddle during the Democratic primary in April in Wards 2, 3 and 6, because Biddle lost the seat to Orange by only a few thousands votes. Biddle fared well in the predominantly white areas of the city while Orange won black neighborhoods by comfortable margins.
Thies said that a special election is "different" from a primary for a candidate like Shapiro.
"He has built a base and could be formidable, in that he will likely face a number of people running for that seat," he said.
He said that there is a question "of what Sekou will do?"
Biddle, who works as the vice president of advocacy for the United Negro College Fund in Fairfax, Va., refused to answer questions about whether he will seek Mendelson's seat in a 2013 special election.
Thies said that the biggest advantage Shapiro has is his experience in running in a D.C. race.
"Newcomers should not plan on winning the first time," he said. "They should be in it for the long haul."
Shapiro said that he is ready to provide the leadership that the city needs.
"I want to be an advocate for the people and be a good public leader," he said.