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The race is on for D.C. Mayor, but first, candidates must first clear an important hurdle.
To make next year's ballot, candidates in D.C. need to turn in signatures by Jan. 2. For the dozen-plus mayoral candidates competing in the April 1 primary, that means turning in 2,000 signatures of registered Democrats.
Mayor Vincent Gray ended months of speculation by announcing he will seek re-election. His official campaign kickoff is slated for next month.
Four council members — Muriel Bowser, Vincent Orange, Tommy Wells and Jack Evans — are running against Gray in the Democratic primary, along with former state department official Reta Jo Lewis and restaurateur Andy Shallal.
Independent council member David Catania says he is exploring whether to run in the general election, which will be held in November.
As for the issues that will take center stage, the debate over marijuana could dominate the discussion early next year.
There is strong support from the mayor and the council to approve a bill decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The council is also looking at a measure to seal the records for those arrested, charged or convicted of possessing marijuana.
And the measure to raise the minimum wage in D.C. should be finalized early next year after all 13 council members voted to approve a bill raising the wage to $11.50 by 2016.