D.C.

Anita Bonds wins at-large D.C. Council seat

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A longtime District of Columbia political insider has been elected to the D.C. Council.

Anita Bonds won Tuesday night's election in a race that drew extremely low turnout in the District. Bonds carried 32.19 percent of the vote, defeating among others Elissa Silverman (27.55 percent) and Patrick Mara (22.79 percent).

Just 9.86 percent of registered District voters cast a ballot in the election.

Bonds has been on the council in an interim capacity since December. She was appointed to fill the vacancy by members of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, of which she is the chairman.

She held off three other Democrats, a Republican and a third-party candidate.

Bonds works for Fort Myer Construction Corp. Councilmembers are not barred from having outside employment, even with firms like Fort Myer that do business with the city.

But Bonds said on NewsChannel 8's "NewsTalk" program Wednesday that she would "definitely" quit and become a full-time councilmember. She had taken leave from the job while serving on the council on an interim basis. The council post pays $125,000 annually. 

Charter amendment passes

In addition to filling the council vacancy, voters overwhelmingly passed a charter amendment that would grant the city the freedom to spend local tax dollars without congressional approval. The charter amendment will become law unless Congress passes a disapproval resolution and President Barack Obama signs it.

Jim Weinstein, a D.C. voter, said, "We have to challenge the limitations of home rule if we're going to change it."

But even advocates admit the referendum could face a fight in the court, if not first on Capitol Hill.

"...Congress will take a look at it, and there's that level of uncertainty, but we think it's a pretty steep hill to climb for Congress to overturn the will of the voters of the District of Columbia in this particular situation," explained D.C. Vote's James Jones.

But as voters chose between candidates to fill an open seat on the D.C. Council, at least one local politician was thinking about an election a year from now.

Councilmember Muriel Bowser visited polling places around the city during Tuesday's special election as part of her campaign for mayor. She was accompanied by about a dozen supporters wearing green "Muriel" baseball caps.

Bowser is the only declared candidate for next year's Democratic primary, which will be held on April 1, 2014. Mayor Vincent Gray hasn't said whether he's seeking re-election. Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Jack Evans are considering running.

Bowser says she's introduced herself to some voters but that many already know she's running. She says "people are excited about the opportunity to vote for a new mayor."

Special elections don't happen often in D.C. Election officials say Tuesday will cost the district $1,046,000. The D.C. Board of Elections was estimating 14 percent turnout for Tuesday's election. They add nearly 2,900 residents voted early.

This Associated Press contributed to this report.

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