Ten minutes before the deadline, Mayor Marion Barry's top political adviser filed petitions yesterday to place Barry on the November ballot as an independent candidate for an at-large D.C. Council seat.
Anita Bonds, head of Citizens to Elect Barry to Council, said that waiting until the last minute to file with the D.C. Board of Elections is "part of the tradition. It's the way we do business."
The mayor, who returned this week from a vacation in Jamaica, did not make an appearance. Bonds delivered a three-inch stack of yellow petitions that she said contained nearly twice the 3,000 signatures Barry needed to qualify to run for the seat he held on the council before he ran for mayor 12 years ago.
After his drug and perjury trial, a major factor in his decision not to enter the Sept. 11 Democratic primary, Barry switched his voter registration from Democrat to independent so that he could file to appear on the November ballot.
One of Barry's staunch supporters who circulated petitions on his behalf said it was more difficult than in years past to get people to sign the petitions.
Lawrence Guyot, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in LeDroit Park and a city employee, said he encountered an "abnormally large" hesitancy among people he approached. He added, however, that "the overall consensus is one of support" for Barry.
A Washington Post poll published yesterday showed that 32 percent of registered Washington voters interviewed said they would vote for Barry as an independent for one of the two at-large council seats up for election.
Many political observers say that one of the seats likely will go to whoever wins the Democratic primary contest.
Johnny Barnes, a former congressional aide; D.C. school board member Linda W. Cropp (Ward 4) and Terry Lynch, a community activist, are competing for the Democratic nomination.
Barry would be the favorite to capture the other seat, experts say, at the expense of council member Hilda H.M. Mason (Statehood-At Large), who won reelection four years ago with 28 percent of the votes cast.
"All I can say is I hope the residents of the District of Columbia remember what I have done ever since I've been a council member, a board member in the school system and in the civil rights movement," Mason said after being told the Post poll results.
"It's going to be a dogfight," said Joslyn N. Williams, chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee. "There hasn't been an election like this before . . . . The mayor is a threat to the Democratic Party and should be treated as such . . . . The party will not assume that the Democratic nominee has it wrapped up. From my point of view, everyone who is running is a potential adversary."
The other candidates who have filed as independents in the at-large council race are Edward A. Beasley, Ray Browne, R. Rochelle Burns, Jim Harvey and Clarene Martin.
Bonds said that Barry plans to kick off his campaign about a week after the Sept. 11 primary. On Sept. 17, U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens is scheduled to announce whether he intends to seek a retrial on any of the 12 drug and perjury charges that a federal jury was unable to agree on earlier this month. Barry was convicted of one misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession and acquitted on another possession charge.
When asked whether Barry should have to serve some time in jail, 59 percent of those interviewed by The Post said no, 33 percent said yes and 7 percent said they didn't know or had no opinion.
Bonds said that while Barry is likely to run into opposition in some neighborhoods, "He can stand up to the flak as well as he can stand up to the accolades . . . . Every vote is important to him and I think getting comments from all the city is very important to him."
She said the campaign will aim to raise $250,000.
Independent candidates for D.C. delegate to Congress are George X Cure, David H. Dabney and Charlotte R. Holmes. Independent candidates for mayor are Bernell Brooks, Mary E. Cox, a person registered simply as "Faith," Brian Moore and Osie L. Thorpe. Also running for mayor are Libertarian Party member Nancy Lord and Isaac A. Nahem of the Socialist Workers.