Bonds Claims Victory in D.C. Council Special Election

Budget autonomy referendum passes overwhelmingly

Turnout was low, and the candidate field crowded, but Interim D.C. Councilmember Anita Bonds can now remove the "interim" from her title.

Bonds won the special election for an at-large D.C. Council seat Tuesday night, News4's Tom Sherwood reported.

According to unofficial returns, Bonds had 16,054 votes (about 32 percent), compared to second-place winner Elissa Silverman, who received 13,740 votes (28 percent), with all 143 precincts counted.

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Patrick Mara came in third with 11,367 votes (23 percent), and Matthew Frumin was fourth with 5,694 votes (11 percent). Neither Perry Redd nor Paul Zukerberg had as much as 2 percent of the vote.

More ballots, including absentee ballots, still need to be counted.

An emotional Bonds spoke briefly to Sherwood Tuesday night as she led a group of supporters out to claim her first electoral victory.

"Ms. Bonds, don't look so nervous," Sherwood said to her. "It looks like you won."

"You are about to go claim victory?" Sherwood asked.

"I am," Bonds replied, softly. "I feel overwhelmed. Yes, overwhelmed because we worked hard, and you never know. And this is my first time, so it's a big deal."

(Pictured: The crowd at Bonds' watch party (L-R):  Council Chair Phil Mendelson; Mayor Vincent Gray; Jack Evans; Yvette Alexander; Marion Barry; Bonds; Kenyan McDuffie.)

Turnout for the special election was less than 50,000 people -- just under 10 percent of registered voters.

During her acceptance speech, Bonds touched on themes of representing D.C.'s diverse socioeconomic groups.

"We care about where we live, how we live, and how we live," she said. "And when we think about budget surpluses, and we think about poverty, we know we have to get in there, dig in there, and try to make a difference for all of the citizens of the District of Columbia.

"That's my commitment, and I know it's yours, too."

The council seat formerly belonged to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson before he was elected to replace former Council Chairman Kwame Brown, who pleaded guilty to a felony and resigned.

Bonds was appointed to fill Mendelson's seat temporarily until the special election.

She previously served in the administrations of Mayor Marion Barry and Mayor Anthony Williams and currently is chair of the D.C. Democratic Party.  She recently made headlines when she said that some African-American voters want to elect "someone who looks like them."

Below: Mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser embraces Bonds.

Inset images by News4's Tom Sherwood.


Also on Tuesday’s ballot, a referendum to tell Congress to let D.C. decide how to spend its $6 billion a year in local funding passed overwhelmingly with 83 percent of voters in favor of it.

Congress doesn't have to listen to the vote in the referendum, but organizers of the "Free D.C.'s Budget" movement hope that the vote will send a strong message that the District's citizens want budgetary independence.

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