Running for D.C. mayor has been an uphill battle for Nestor Djonkam. The 54-year-old engineer has suffered from low name recognition, raised little in campaign funds and in recent weeks had to overcome a challenge to his ballot petitions.
But on Friday, Lady Luck was on Djonkam’s side: The independent candidate won pole position on the Nov. 4 ballot, meaning his name will appear above better-known candidates Muriel Bowser (D), David A. Catania (I) and Carol Schwartz (I).
“I’m so joyful,” said Djonkam, who received 73 votes in his last mayoral run, as a Democrat in 2006. “I’m a winner.”
The advantage of being first on the ballot is debatable, but candidates tend to prefer to be at the top than the bottom. The ballot lottery, which involved a half-hour’s worth of drawing paper slips out of a hat, drew a crowd of several dozen to the D.C. Board of Elections headquarters downtown.
Schwartz was among the attendees; she said she enjoys being a part of the electoral process. “I certainly would have liked to be higher up,” she said of the results, “but whoever will want to vote for me will find me.”
Friday’s lottery marks the end of a months-long nominating process. Candidates who did not qualify for the ballot though the April 1 party primaries were required to collect petition signatures from at least 3,000 voters. Besides Djonkam, two other independent candidates saw their ballot petitions challenged — D.C. Council chairman hopeful John C. Cheeks and at-large council candidate Kishan Putta — but all ended up qualifying, although their challengers might still go to court.
The lottery also marks a milestone for the mayoral race, which has been in a holding pattern of sorts, with Democratic nominee Bowser delaying her participation in debates until after the ballot was set. The first debate is set for Thursday at American University, with at least two more to follow.
The Nov. 4 ballot will appear as follows:
●Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives: Natale Lino Stracuzzi (Statehood Green), Nelson F. Rimensnyder (R), Eleanor H. Norton (D), Timothy J. Krepp (I)
●Mayor: Nestor Djonkam (I), Muriel E. Bowser (D), David A. Catania (I), Faith (SG), Carol Schwartz (I), Bruce Majors (Libertarian)
●Chairman of the D.C. Council: Kris Hammond (R), Kyle Walker (L), G. Lee Aikin (SG), John C. Cheeks (I), Phil Mendelson (D)
●At-large council member: Michael D. Brown (I), Frederick Steiner (L), Eric J. Jones (I), Kishan Putta (I), Wendell Felder (I), Eugene Puryear (SG), Courtney R. Snowden (I), Anita D. Bonds (D), Brian Hart (I), Robert White (I), Calvin H. Gurley (I), Elissa Silverman (I), Marc Morgan (R), Graylan Scott Hagler (I), Khalid Pitts (I)
●Ward 1 council member: Brianne K. Nadeau (D), John Vaught LaBeaume (L), Ernest E. Johnson (I)
●Ward 3 council member: Ryan Sabot (L), Mary M. Cheh (D)
●Ward 5 council member: Preston Cornish (L), Kenyan McDuffie (D)
●Ward 6 council member: Charles Allen (D), Pranav Badhwar (L)
●Attorney general: Karl A. Racine, Lateefah Williams, Edward “Smitty” Smith, Paul Zukerberg, Lorie Masters (all are Democrats)
●“Shadow” U.S. senator: David Schwartzman (SG), Paul Strauss (D), John Daniel (L), Glenda J. Richmond (I)
●“Shadow” U.S. representative: Franklin Garcia (D), Martin Moulton (L), Joyce Robinson-Paul (SG)
●Ward 1 member of the State Board of Education: David Do, Scott Simpson, E. Gail Anderson Holness, Laura Wilson Phelan, Lillian Perdomo (nonpartisan)
●Ward 3 board member: Stephanie Blessey Lilley, Tricia Braun, Phil Thomas, Ruth Wattenberg
●Ward 5 board member: Mark Jones
●Ward 6 board member: Mark Naydan, Joe Weedon
●Advisory Neighborhood Commissions: A list of candidates for the city’s 37 ANCs is available at dcboee.org.