The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics today formally declared former D.C. Council chairman Kwame Brown’s seat vacant and scheduled a special election to fill it on Nov. 6, the same day as the regularly scheduled general election.
Brown resigned last week after being charged with felony bank fraud and misdemeanor campaign finance violations. (On Friday he pleaded guilty to both.) While the D.C. Council will select someone to hold his seat on an interim basis this Wednesday, voters have to choose someone to complete the rest of his term — which is up in 2015.
Though D.C. law would have the special election fall on Oct. 9, the board exercised its discretion in aligning the contest with the general election. (One commentator quipped that it will be known as the “fully-loaded” election, in reference to Brown’s taxpayer-financed luxury SUV.) The move will cost some $300,000 to $400,000, but it will also save the city the $1 million it would cost to have a stand-alone citywide special election. And though the elections will be held on the same day, they will legally be considered separate contests, meaning that candidates can run both for the council’s top jobs and other posts.
Candidates for Brown’s old post will be able to pick up nominating petitions starting Friday, meaning that we’ll soon know who’s in the running. So far Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who is likely to be selected to hold Brown’s seat until the special election, has hinted that he’s interested, as is Council member Vincent Orange (D-At Large), who ran against Brown for the seat in 2010.
All things considered, it’s looking like the Nov. 6 balloting will be quite the doozy. Not only will D.C. voters get to choose a president and various council offices (including, as of today, the council chair), but they’ll likely be voting on two ethics-related measures: a citizen-led initiative that would ban corporate contributions to local campaigns (if it gets the necessary signatures by early July) and two provisions of a new ethics bill that would allow the council to expel one of its own and forbid elected officials convicted of a felony while in office from remaining in office.