Harry Thomas Jr. at council Dec. 6, 2011 (Twit pic from @brucejohnson9)
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- The corruption scandal that forced DC councilman Harry Thomas, Jr. to resign has left an opening on the council. Now there's a long line of people who want to fill that Ward 5 seat -- and we're still four months from the election.
Ward 5 in the District includes Fort Totten, Ivy City, Trinidad, and Brentwood. Nearly 2 dozen people are fighting for the job at the Wilson Building including ANC commissioners, party leaders and some political newcomers. The official filing process begins at 8:30 on Friday morning and lasts until Feb. 15.
Kenyan McDuffie, a long time resident, attorney and civil rights advocate got a head start on his election bid, filing paperwork at the Board of Elections Thursday. The special election will be held May 15.
Hopefuls need to collect 500 signatures before getting on the ballot. Many of them say they are running because the ward needs a fresh start after the resignation and conviction of former council member Harry Thomas Jr. The Thomas family has been very influential in the ward for decades -- his father held the council seat -- so his corruption conviction is a huge blow and has divided the ward in many ways, but one community activist is calling for unity and a fresh start.
Ward 5 community activist Debbie Smith-Steiner told us about the ward "It needs a serious leadership cleansing on all levels."
She added, "We do need to have a vigil, something to bring community together to say 'yes, something terrible happened, it's something it's hurtful, but we get beyond this and move on.'"