13 candidates seek to fill Thomas’ D.C. Council seat

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A string of Ward 5 hopefuls picked up paperwork on Friday as part of the race to replace former council member Harry Thomas Jr. in a special election on May 15, less than two weeks after the ousted legislator is scheduled to be sentenced for theft and tax fraud involving public funds.

Frank Wilds was the first of 11 Democrats out of the gate at the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, picking up petitions to get on the ballot ahead of a volunteer for Kenyan McDuffie, a formal federal prosecutor who filed his declaration of candidacy on Thursday.

Bessie M. Newell, Amanda Broadnax, Delano Hunter, Ruth E. Marshall, Shelly Gardner, Caroline Petti, John Salatti, Kathy Henderson and E. Henry Wolterbeek also picked up the turquoise-colored pages that must be filled with 500 signatures from registered voters of any party by Feb. 15.

Carolyn C. Steptoe and John C. Cheeks picked up paperwork to run as independents.

It is unclear how large of a role Thomas‘ sudden departure will play in the race. Thomas, who followed in his father’s footsteps as the Ward 5 council member, had served since 2007 but resigned in disgrace Jan. 6 before pleading guilty to embezzling more than $350,000 in public funds earmarked for youth programs.

“I think people are kind of tip-toeing around it,” Ms. Broadnax said in a brief interview at the BOEE, noting she appreciates the contributions of the Thomas family but believes the former council member had to take responsibility for his actions. “In my opinion right is right, wrong is wrong.”

Ms. Broadnax, 30, said there are plenty of other issues to take on in Ward 5, including the advent of medical marijuana facilities in Ivy City and the lack of middle school options in the ward.

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