The Washington Post

Republican Mara ready for council race

Ward 1 school board member Patrick Mara said Tuesday he submitted 4,360 signatures to qualify for the April 23 special election for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council.

Mara, the only Republican in a citywide race that could include more than a dozen Democrats, said his success at gathering signatures demonstrates “the response and enthusiasm” he is seeing across the city.

“When I tell voters that I’m here to put my foot in the revolving door of District politics, the response is always, ‘where do I sign,’”said Mara, who lives in Columbia Heights. 

So far, 20 candidates have stated their intention to seek the seat left vacant by Phil Mendelson’s (D) election as chairman in the November election. To qualify for the ballot, candidates must submit at least 3,000 signatures from registered District voters by Jan. 23. 

In 2008, Mara defeated former council member Carol Schwartz in the GOP primary. But Mara lost the general election to Michael Brown, an independent who held the seat until he was ousted in November by Council member David Grosso (I).

Mara, who was elected to the school board in 2010, again ran for the council in 2011, but finished second behind Council member Vincent B. Orange (D).

Mara, a self-proclaimed fiscally conservative but socially liberal Republican, is widely expected to be a front runner in this year’s contest.

Mara’s race could turn into a rematch against Brown, who is now seeking to rejoin the council as a Democrat. 

On Monday, attorney Paul Zukerberg, who is campaigning to decriminalize marijuana, became the first Democrat to submit his signatures to the D.C. Board of Elections.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.

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