Tuesday marks the first time in decades the Thomas family name will not be on an election ballot in the District's Ward 5.
The special election may bring closure for the city's Northeast residents as they go to the polls to elect their new council representative following a year marked by shame and disappointment as their former council member pleaded guilty to stealing more than $350,000 in public funds.
Former D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr., who is getting ready to serve a 38-month sentence in federal prison, followed his father's footsteps into city politics, first serving as an advisory neighborhood commissioner then winning his council seat in 2006. His father held the seat from 1986 until his death in 1999.
But the wide-open race has caused an all-out scramble among would-be politicians, creating a crowded ballot that some fear will divide precious votes in what is expected to be a low turnout. Since the initial filings in January, the field has only narrowed from 15 people to 11 now vying for the seat.
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The candidates as they appear on the ballot:
• John Cheeks (I): Business owner, community activist, 32-year resident. Running on ethics reform. Says if elected, he'll require drug tests for officials.
• Rae Zapata (D): Attorney, more than a decade of community service, 21-year resident. Specializes in education, family law and housing issues.
• Ruth Marshall (D): Construction firm administrator, 38-year resident. Says banking and real estate experience can help ward's development future.
• Tim Day (R): Accountant, Ward 5 native, former council candidate. Was the first to uncover Thomas' embezzlement.
• Delano Hunter (D): Community organizer and real estate investor, Ward 5 native, former council candidate. Focus on education and economic development.
• Drew Hubbard (D): Former city hall staffer and public servant, 12-year resident. Priorities include affordable housing, job training and economic development.
• Amanda Broadnax (D): Withdrew from race; endorsed McDuffie.
• Kenyan McDuffie (D): Prosecutor and civil rights attorney, Ward 5 native, former council candidate. Wants more ethics reform, better resident services.
• Shelly Gardner (D): Educator, four-year resident. Touts education experience. Pro-small business.
• Kathy Henderson (D): Community activist, 30-year resident. As advisory neighborhood commissioner, Henderson rallied for better city services for her Carver Terrace community.
• Ron Magnus (D): Attorney, gospel music expert, 24-year resident. Pledges more transparency, stronger ethics, promoter of smart growth.
• Frank Wilds (D): Business owner, Ward 5 native, former council candidate. Wants more jobs/job training, no more strip clubs, better resident services.