Independent Michael A. Brown’s (above) seat is being sought by two Republican contenders. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

Two Republicans say they plan to enter the race for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council, setting up a rare GOP primary for April.

Mary Brooks Beatty and Timothy Day announced their intentions to enter the at-large race today, the first day ballot petitions can be circulated for the April 3 primary. Both are former advisory neighborhood commissioners — Beatty in Hill East; Day in Brookland.

Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republican Committee, said he was pleased the candidates have come forward. “It would be a very competitive primary, which would be good for the party,” he said. “Our position is, the more the merrier.”

The primary contest will be the first for city Republicans since 2008, when newcomer Patrick Mara defeated longtime at-large incumbent Carol Schwartz in a heated, unusually well-funded race. Mara finished behind Democrat-turned-independent Michael A. Brown, who claimed the non-Democratic seat at stake that year.

Brown is seeking re-election next year, and one independent, David Grosso, has already launched a challenge. On the Democratic ballot, incumbent Vincent Orange is under challenge from Sekou Biddle, who held the seat for several months earlier this year.

Beatty, according to her campaign Web site, is a Texas native who moved to D.C. in 1999 and got involved in neighborhood politics five years later when she joined in protests of two troublesome liquor stores. She is a government affairs consultant and a former executive director of the National Environmental Policy Institute, a think tank that sought to streamline federal environmental regulations.

Day, a Brookland native, ran for the Ward 5 council seat last year, losing to incumbent Democrat Harry Thomas Jr., but not before he raised questions about Thomas’s nonprofit fundraising. Those questions prompted an investigation by the D.C. Attorney General’s office that ended in accusations that Thomas misappropriated more than $300,000 in city youth funding for personal purposes. Thomas denied wrongdoing but settled a civil case brought by Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan for $300,000; a criminal review is ongoing.

UPDATE, 5 P.M.: It appears there could be two contested Republican primaries in April.

Don Folden Sr., a Metrobus driver and former mayoral and council candidate, picked up ballot petitions for the Ward 7 race Monday. Folden, 58, joins Peaceoholics activist Ronald Moten in declaring interest in running under the GOP banner for the seat now held by Yvette M. Alexander (D).

“We need some people that are really interested in serving, not for the status or the paycheck but atcually to put the people of this city first,” said Folden.

Like Moten, Folden is a Democratic convert. In 1994, he finished last in the crowded Democratic mayoral primary won by Marion Barry. He went on to run for D.C. Council seats four times, most recently in 2004 against Carol Schwartz (R).

Also like Moten, Folden sees his GOP membership as a statement on the city’s majority party: “I didn’t really like the way the treatment and taking for granted that was going on in the Democratic party. Say what you want but the it was the Repubocians that sent black people free,” Folden said, later adding that “the Republican party needs me more than I need the Republican party.”