Wait, didn't we just have one of these? Yes, we did. This election—set for April 23—is to fill an open At-Large seat on the DC Council.
Until this year, Councilmember Phil Mendelson held the seat, but he officially vacated it after winning election as Chairman last November. Interim Councilmember Anita Bonds holds the seat right now; the Home Rule Charter specifies that the DC Democratic State Committee appoints an interim member (because Mendelson was a Democrat) until the election. (Bonds is also running to become permanent).
The election is citywide and non-partisan, which means that all registered voters are eligible to cast ballots regardless of party. There is no primary or runoff; whoever gets the most votes, gets elected (but will have to run again in 2014 when the regular election rolls around).
So far, there are some 16 declared candidates, and we'll send the questions to all of them. By law, every candidates has to submit 3,000 signatures from registered voters by January 23 to appear on the ballot. That's a surprisingly high bar, so you can expect the field to be culled a little at that point.
People can also challenge signatures on candidates' petitions. If some candidates submit enough signatures but enough of those fall to challenges, the field may shrink a little more by February 25, when the Board of Elections rules on all of the challenges. After the roster of candidates becomes final, the Board of Elections will conduct a ballot to determine in what order the candidates will appear on the ballot.
On April 23, you vote.
If you're not registered in DC, you can register as long as your registration is postmarked by March 25, or you can register in person at the polling place.
In the meantime, you'll see these candidates out and about, pitching their candidacies and encouraging you to vote for them. Some you may have heard of, others not. Organizations will host candidate debates and forums, and the candidates will blanket the city with their campaign signs. Let's Choose DC hopes to dig into each of the candidates so that you—the voter—has a better sense of who you're voting for come April 23.