The District of Columbia holds a special election Tuesday to fill an at-large seat on the Council. The field is packed with six people who have six different points of view -- and six different sets of issues that they care about.
If you live in the District, you've probably gotten a blitz of mailed candidate information, seen the signs on telephone poles and read a little about a slew of candidate debates and forums.
But self-education remains one of your best tools. So D.C. voters should take a moment to learn about these candidates and what they say they'll do to propel the District forward.
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Remember: Voting will be Tuesday at your normal polling place between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Here's a quick guide to who's on the ballot Tuesday -- and how you can learn more about each candidate:
Councilmember Anita Bonds: Bonds is an at-large councilmember now, appointed by the local Democratic Party to temporarily fill the seat until Tuesday’s election. Bonds served in the administrations of both Marion Barry and Anthony Williams, and currently is chair of the D.C. Democratic Party. Bonds recently made headlines when she pointed out that electing a white candidate for council would make the governing board for D.C. majority white. Learn more about Bonds here.
Matthew Frumin: An activist for public schools and member of his Advisory Neighborhood Commission, Frumin is best known for his efforts to modernize Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Tenleytown. He's also served on city task forces on traffic safety and underground power lines. Learn more about Frumin here.
Patrick Mara: Mara is an elected member of the Board of Education from Ward 1. He is also a board member for the D.C. Leadership Development Council and Columbia Heights Day Initiative. Earlier in the race, his campaign returned a $1,000 donation from a political action committee that vows to support “conservative pro-freedom candidates” with positions that include opposing D.C. statehood. The Washington Post and local Sierra Club endorsed Mara. Learn more about Mara here.
Perry Redd: Redd is a social change activist and organizer. Redd serves as executive director of the non-profit worker’s rights advocacy group Sincere Seven. He has served two stints in prison, battled his convictions and turned the experience into a career lobbying for changes in the city, focusing on housing policies and criminal justice laws that affect African-American youth. He is a host of an internet radio talk show, as well as a songwriter. Learn more about Redd here.
Elissa Silverman: Silverman is a former newspaper reporter -- she wrote the "Loose Lips" column for City Paper, and then wrote for the Washington Post. She now is on leave from her job with the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, which advocates for spending on public health and human services. Silverman has faced criticism for not returning a campaign donation from Sinclair Skinner, who was the subject of a Council probe in 2010 over city contracting. Silverman has been endorsed by the Washington City Paper, which acknowledged that they were "wary of endorsing any former journalist," but that she "knows the budget inside and out." Learn more about Silverman here.
Paul Zukerberg: Zukerberg is a lawyer who has advocated for improved schools, making D.C. a more bikeable and walkable city -- and who is campaigning on a platform to make owning small amounts of marijuana a civil infraction instead of a crime, as it is now. Learn more about Zukerberg here.
Michael Brown: You’ll see his name on the ballot, but Michael A. Brown officially has withdrawn from the race. He is a former councilmember who lost his seat last November to David Grosso. Brown was attempting a comeback in this election but withdrew.
Finally, also on the ballot is a referendum that, if passed, would tell Congress to let D.C. decide how to spend its $6 billion a year in local funding.
There's a catch, of course: The U.S. Constitution says that Congress has total legislative control over the District's spending. 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.
Remember, on Tuesday -- vote!