IT IS ELECTION DAY in Ward 5 of the District of Columbia, and voters there have a chance to make a big impact on the city. With their former council member heading to prison, and top city leaders under investigation, the right choice from Ward 5 could go a long way toward putting the city back on the right track.

A number of attractive candidates are among the 11 in the race, which in itself is an encouraging indicator of political life in the city. The best of them, in our judgment, is Tim Day, a native of Ward 5 with a keen understanding of the community and a commitment to finding sensible solutions to city problems.

Mr. Day, an accountant, was the first person to raise questions about the finances of former council member Harry Thomas Jr. Mr. Day didn’t do himself any favors by doing so; whistleblowers seldom make many friends. But he was offended by the notion that a council member might be taking money intended to help poor children and using it for his own purposes. In the end, prosecutors demonstrated that Mr. Thomas had stolen more than $350,000. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 38 months in prison.

A passion for honest government is a good qualification for public service, but it’s not sufficient. Fortunately, Mr. Day also has an approach to governing and an appreciation of the issues that would serve Ward 5 and the city well. He has a record of community service. He is particularly interested in helping poor children advance. He wants government to help, and he wants to measure how well government is performing. He would seek to lower bureaucratic and regulatory hurdles that make success difficult for small businesses.

Above all, Mr. Day has an independence that city government badly needs at this stage.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. This is a special election, not a primary, so any voter registered in the District may vote.