Paul Zukerberg, a District attorney who wants to decriminalize marijuana, said Monday that he is the first candidate to turn in enough signatures to qualify as a candidate in the April special election for a seat on the D.C. Council.

In a statement, Zukerberg said he turned in 3,091 signatures from registered voters to District elections officials – 91 more than required.

But based on past elections, Zukerberg may not have turned in enough signatures to withstand a possible challenge over the validity of his petition.

D.C Elections Board officials often toss dozens or hundreds of signatures for being invalid because they come from someone not on the voter rolls.

Mindful of his narrow margin, Zukerberg said he plans to continue collecting signatures through next week, when he plans to submit an updated total.

So far, 20 candidates, including interim council member Anita Bonds (D) and Republican Patrick Mara, have announced plans to run in the April 23 special election for the citywide at-large seat. 

Potential candidates have until Jan. 23 to gather the required signatures, which can be a cold and grueling process during the winter. It’s widely expected that multiple announced candidates will fall short.

Zukerberg, 55,  is an Adams Morgan attorney who specializes in defending marijuana possession cases.  

He plans to argue during the campaign that the District needs to engage in a serious discussion about decriminalizing marijuana, arguing to many residents are drawing criminal records.

 If he qualifies for the ballot, Zukerberg will also campaign on improving education, a more sustainable transportation network and ethics reform.

Keith Ivey, a local progressive activist, has compiled an excellent spreadsheet listing all 20 candidates attempting to qualify for the ballot. You can find Ivey’s handy spreadsheet here.

The D.C. Board of Elections will rule in early February on which candidates qualify for the ballot. After a challenge and appeal period, the board will set the final ballot for the special election March 1.