The winner of the citywide council race will fill out the term of Phil Mendelson (D), who held the at-large seat before becoming chairman last year. In December, the D.C. Democratic State Committee selected party chairwoman Anita Bonds (D) as an interim council member pending Tuesday’s outcome. Bonds, 68, is being challenged by Republican Patrick Mara, 38, Statehood Green Party candidate Perry Redd, 48, and Democrats Matthew Frumin, 53, Elissa Silverman, 40, and Paul Zukerberg, 55.
The winner will sit on the 13-member council for about 18 months and will be up for reelection next year when the term for Mendelson’s old seat expires.
Voters also are being asked to consider Referendum 8, which would give the city government authority to spend locally raised funds without congressional action. But it remains unclear whether the referendum, backed by several advocacy groups and numerous city leaders, would survive congressional review and possible legal challenges.
All 143 polling locations are open until 8 p.m. Voters are asked to cast ballots at their designated precinct.
Mara cast his ballot Tuesday morning at Parkview Recreation Center in Ward 1.
Mara, the only Republican in race, typically votes at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School in Columbia Heights, but the Board of Elections announced several weeks ago that polling location could not be used in this election. Mara was joined by his wife.
If elected, Mara would be the fourth Republican seated on the 13-member council since Home Rule.
“I feel great, a positive campaign continues,” Mara said after he voted. “We’ve brought a lot of people into the process and we are positive now, as we have been throughout the campaign.”
But Bonds, the Democratic incumbent, also was confident of her chances.
On Monday night, Bonds rallied with nearly 50 supporters who made calls on her behalf out of a first-floor conference room at Democratic National Committee Headquarters.
“There are many people across the city, from all walks of life who know me, who know of me, and think I’m a good person,” Bonds said. “Even my opponents have said I’m a good person, and good people usually do good things, for good communities, and therefore we are looking for a good outcome.”
To Gerald Elliott, 81 and a Democrat, political parties “are still important” and based on that any challenger to Bonds would have had a hurdle to overcome to grab his vote. No one did.
Elliott voted for Bonds at Precinct 52 in Ward 4 on the campus of St. John’s College High School on Military Road in Upper Northwest. By late morning turnout was described as “light” by an official at the precinct, where a total of 143 votes.
“I could also see the argument on Mr. Mara that having a Republican contender is valuable for the process but that wasn’t enough to sway me,” said Elliott of Mara.
In Ward 1, Chad Williams cast his ballot for Silverman after he remembered she used to write the Loose Lips column for the Washington City Paper.