D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds wins at-large seat in special election

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Local,DC,Eric P. Newcomer,D.C. Council

Councilwoman Anita Bonds won her bid for the D.C. Council at-large seat, beating out five other candidates in Tuesday's special election.

With all 143 precincts reporting, Bonds had 32 percent of the vote, while former reporter reporter Elissa Silverman had 28 percent and Republican Patrick Mara followed with 23 percent. Matthew Frumin lagged behind with 9 percent of the vote.

Bonds, chairwoman for the DC Democratic State Committee, is a protege of former Mayor and current Councilman Marion Barry.

She began serving on the Council in late 2012, after the Democratic State Committee selected her to hold the seat on an interim basis.

The at-large seat became vacant when Phil Mendelson was elected Council chairman on Nov. 6.

Mara, a member of the DC State Board of Education, has now run for the Council three times. Days before the election, he declined to say whether he would run again if he lost the race. Many observers thought this was his best shot, given the divided democratic field.

Mara received the endorsement of The Washington Examiner, the Northwest Current and the Washington Post.

Former Councilman Michael Brown's decision to exit the race for family reasons likely gave Bonds an edge, eliminating a potential competitor in heavily African-American wards. Based on preliminary vote totals, Bonds received more than 75 percent of the vote in Wards 7 and 8 and nearly 50 percent of the vote in Ward 5.

Elissa Silverman, the former Washington Post reporter, came out ahead of Frumin, another political newcomer. The pair was expected to compete for many of the same liberal, reform-minded voters. News broke this past weekend the Silverman's campaign asked Frumin to drop out to improve her chances, but he stayed in the race.

David Beard, 32, said he voted for Silverman because she's a "breath of fresh air."

"I liked that she didn't take corporate donations," he said outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library polling location.

Frumin could now try to build off improved name recognition to propel him in an upcoming Council race. Observers have speculated that he stuck it out this time around to prepare for a race against Councilwoman Mary Cheh in Ward 3.

Paul Zukerman, a pro-marijuana attorney, continually pushed candidates to consider decriminalizing marijuana -- an effort praised by his opponents in the race.

Statehood Green Party candidate Perry Redd had trouble breaking through to the wider electorate.

But Heather Franek said she supported Redd after debating between him and Mara. She called Redd's campaign "out of the norm in terms of politics as usual."

On Tuesday evening, the only ballot referendum that would give the District more control over its budget looked poised to pass easily.

enewcomer@washingtonexaminer.com

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