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  •   Petition Challenges Appear to Give
    Schwartz GOP's Mayoral Nomination

    Photo of Carol Schwartz announcing her candidacy in June.
    Carol Schwartz (John P. Martin – washingtonpost.com)
    By Hamil R. Harris
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, July 25, 1998; Page B05

    Carol Schwartz may have locked up the Republican mayoral nomination seven weeks before a single vote is cast. One of her primary election opponents has withdrawn, and the other apparently lacks the necessary number of valid signatures to get on the ballot.

    D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics officials said the nominating petitions of Republican candidates David P. Mugan and James Caviness were challenged. Mugan withdrew from the race, and officials said most of the names on Caviness's petitions appear to be invalid.

    The Republican candidates needed the signatures of 246 registered Republicans, a number equal to 1 percent of the city's registered Republicans. Alice Miller, executive director of the elections board, said a preliminary review showed that 150 of the 298 signatures Caviness filed were invalid.

    Schwartz, an at-large member of the D.C. Council, can thank Alfred Staffeld for derailing her mayoral opponents. The 35-year-old private businessman combed through pages of petitions filed by Mugan and Caviness and discovered names of people who were not registered Republicans.

    "If people are going to run for mayor, they need to play by the rules and follow the procedure," said Staffeld, an admirer of Schwartz who said he found that 64 of the 282 signatures Mugan filed were invalid because they were those of people who were not registered as Republicans or did not have District addresses. Neither Mugan nor Caviness returned telephone calls from The Washington Post.

    Seven candidates seeking places on the Sept. 15 primary ballot are facing challenges to their petitions. They include former D.C. Council member Arrington Dixon, who Miller said doesn't have enough signatures to get on the ballot in the at-large D.C. Council race.

    In a citywide race, Democrats need 2,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Miller said Dixon -- the former chairman of the D.C. Council -- turned in 2,569 petition signatures. Miller said that 911 were challenged, and 731 appear to be invalid, leaving Dixon with only 1,838 signatures.

    D.C. Council member Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6), Ward 5 candidate William Boston and Eduardo Burkhart, who is running for U.S. shadow representative, appear to have enough signatures to withstand their petition challenges, Miller said.

    Miller said candidates whose petitions were successfully challenged can present their cases to the Board of Elections at a hearing Monday.

    Staffeld called his effort a learning experience.

    "I didn't know that it was up to citizens and not the Board of Elections to challenge petitions," he said.

    Schwartz was vacationing at Rehoboth Beach, Del., yesterday, but her press secretary Daisey Voight was appreciative of Staffeld's research. "We are pleased whenever citizens participate in the electoral process," she said.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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