DC Political Roundup

James Wright | 12/5/2012, 9:39 a.m.

The Race Begins

The recent victory of D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson at the polls on Nov. 6 has set off a race that's moving at break-neck speed to replace him as an at-large member of the D.C. Council among District Democrats.

District law states that the party of an at-large member of the D.C. Council gets to determine who fills the spot in case of a vacancy. D.C. Council member Vincent Orange (D-At Large), who also serves as the national committeeman to the national Democratic Party and who will vote on who will succeed Mendelson, said, the race is between D.C. Democratic State Committee chair Anita Bonds and Ward 4 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Douglass Sloan.

"I think that the race boils down between Bonds and Sloan and while I have not made up my mind who I will support, it is the one who makes the best presentation that will get my vote," said Orange, 55.

A candidate for the interim position must obtain 200 valid petition signatures of registered Democrats in the city, with at least 25 signatures of residents in each of the eight wards and no less than 27 signatures from members of the committee.

The appointment will take place on Monday, Dec. 10 and the location has yet to be determined. The D.C. Board of Elections declared April 23, 2013 as the date for the special election to fill Mendelson's seat permanently.

A candidate would need approximately 51 percent of those voting on Dec. 10 to fill the interim position.

Sloan, 41, served as Orange's campaign manager in the special election for the at-large seat that was vacated by Kwame Brown in April 2011 and in the Nov. 6 general election in which Orange polled well in each of the city's eight wards. Orange is familiar with the at-large D.C. Council member selection process because he was defeated by Sekou Biddle for the interim appointment by a vote of the committee in January 2011.

Bonds is considered to be the front-runner - for now. She served as an aide to former D.C. Council member Kwame Brown and has worked for Marion Barry in his campaigns for mayor and in his administration.

Bonds, 61, has served as an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 5 and worked in the administration of Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly.

Others who have shown interest in the committee's appointment are Donna Alston and John Capozzi of Ward 7 and David Fuller. Capozzi is a former D.C. Shadow representative and a former member of the committee.

A resident of Hillcrest in Southeast, Capozzi recently challenged all candidates for the appointment to disclose campaign contributions and expenditures.

"While this election is not governed by any of the current District of Columbia campaign finance laws, candidates should adhere to campaign finance rules that are consistent with the national party's principles and the values that led Democrats to such a resounding national victory this election season," Capozzi said.

Sloan has joined Capozzi in agreeing to release the names of his benefactors and other financial information.

Many members of the committee, such as Lenwood Johnson of Northwest and Markus Batchelor, who serves as the first vice president of the Ward 8 Democrats haven't made up their minds at this point as to who they intend to support.

Johnson, 52, in a recent interview said that he would have liked to have seen Stanley Mayes, an attorney and a Ward 1 member of the committee, seek the appointment. , but it appears to be a contest between Bonds and Sloan.

"I think it is important that a member of the D.C. State Committee gets the appointment," Johnson said.

Batchelor, who's considered a rising political star in the District, remains undecided.

"I have no idea at this point who I will vote for," said Batchelor, 19. The George Washington University student said right now he's looking at both candidates.

"I have talked to a couple of the candidates and I am now talking to my colleagues on the committee to hear what they [think]."