ChrisBarry

Marion Christopher Barry is a candidate for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat.

Marion Christopher Barry, candidate for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat of his late father Marion S. Barry, has not voted consistently in District and ward elections, the AFRO has learned.

Tamara Robinson, spokeswoman for the Board of Elections, said on Jan. 13 that Barry didn’t vote in the July 15, 2014, special election for the vacant Ward 8 Board of Education position or in the  April 1, 2014 primary. Another elections official said she couldn’t confirm or deny whether Barry voted in the Nov. 4, 2014 general election.

Agency staff revealed Barry cast a provisional ballot in the Nov. 6, 2012 general and special election. These elections included his late father on the ballot, running for re-election.

Despite repeated calls to the number Barry provided on the D.C. Board of Elections website, he didn’t respond to the AFRO by deadline.

Barry is running against 23 other candidates to claim his father’s seat. He officially began the process of running on Jan. 5 by picking up petitions and signing the necessary paperwork.  The deadline for petitions to get on the ballot is Jan. 28 and Barry is actively seeking the required 500 signatures of registered voters.

He is considered one of the leading candidates in the race, primarily because of his father’s political legacy and network of longtime supporters. However, Barry, who owns a small construction company, has never held political office.

Candidates for District political office do not fare well when it is revealed that they have not consistently voted in elections. Andy Shallal, the owner of the Busboys and Poets restaurant chain, had hopes of winning the April 1, 2014 Democratic Party mayoral primary, but those hopes were dashed when it was revealed that he did not vote in city elections on a regular basis.

Khalid Pitts, a Logan Circle entrepreneur, received negative publicity when it was revealed he lived in the District for nearly two decades but registered to vote on Dec. 31, 2013, three months before he ran as a candidate for the non-Democratic seat on the council in the November 2014 general election.

District law mandates a candidate for the council be a “qualified elector in the District” as well as other requirements, including establishing residency in the city one year prior to running, being a resident from the ward where they are seeking office, hold no other significant public office position, and not being a convicted felon while holding the office of council member.

While a candidate must be a registered voter, casting a ballot is not a requirement to run for office.

Dennis Harvey, who recently dropped out of the Ward 8 race to support Barry did not comment on Barry’s voting record and neither did Anthony Lorenzo Green, who has represented Barry as an advisory neighborhood commissioner (ANC) for several years and is active in his campaign.

LaRuby May, a fellow candidate, said that “voting is very important.”

“Voting determines what resources a community gets,” May said. “All of us who are African-American should exercise that right.”

Natalie Williams, the president of the Ward 8 Democrats also running for the Ward 8 Council seat, agreed with May. Williams said she takes her daughter with her when she votes and notes,  proudly, that she began participating in civic affairs at an early age.

“Voting is a fundamental right for all D.C. residents,” Williams said. “It is the only way to be involved in the decision-making in this city. As president of the Ward 8 Democrats, I have worked to educate and empower those who have not participated in voting.”