According to unofficial returns, Ms. Bonds won the election with 32 percent of the vote.
Ms.Bonds has been on the council in an interim capacity since December. She was appointed to fill the vacancy by members of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, of which she is the chairman.
She staved off three Democrats, a Republican and a third-party candidate. The defeat was especially bitter for D.C. Republicans, who saw the special election as a rare opportunity to pick up a seat on the Democratic-dominated council. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 11-to-1 in the nation’s capital, and the only non-Democrats on the council are left-leaning independents. City law mandates that at least two of the four at-large council members represent a non-majority party.
Ms. Bonds, 68, was a longtime aide to former mayor and current council member Marion Barry. She works for Fort Myer Construction Corp., a major city contractor. She had said she would likely give up that job if she were elected to the council.
Ms. Bonds will serve the remainder of the four-year term to which Phil Mendelson was elected in 2010. Mr. Mendelson became council chairman last summer when Kwame R. Brown resigned after agreeing to plead guilty to bank fraud. Mendelson was elected chairman in November, creating a vacancy for his at-large seat.
Several sitting council members endorsed Ms. Bonds, who also had union support.
“I’ve really been impressed with her focus on helping people in our city who need affordable housing, who need to make their way out of poverty and into the middle class,” said council member Muriel Bowser, a Democrat who is running for mayor.
William P. Lightfoot, a former council member and a Bonds supporter, had said Ms. Bonds‘ support among black voters and longtime residents, especially in less affluent parts of the city, would be difficult for the other candidates to overcome — especially in a special election. Turnout was low, with just less than 10 percent of the district’s registered voters casting ballots.
Democrat Elissa Silverman, a first-time candidate, was second with 28 percent of the vote. Ms. Silverman is a former newspaper reporter who works for a nonprofit that advocates for low-income residents.
Also on Tuesday, D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved a charter amendment that would allow the city government to spend local tax dollars without congressional approval. The amendment now goes to Congress, which must pass a disapproval resolution in order to stop it from taking effect. But some city leaders have questioned whether the amendment is legal because it takes power away from Congress, and it could be the subject of a court challenge.