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The race for the empty Ward 5 D.C. Council seat begins today, as candidates can begin circulating petitions to get on the May 14 ballot.Once the Elections Board opens its doors this morning, candidates will be able to pick up petitions and start gathering signatures.
The seat was vacated by former Council member Harry Thomas Jr., who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $350,000 in city funds earlier this month. Thomas' sentencing hearing is scheduled for early May, less than two weeks before the special election.
Several people have signaled an interest in running, and at least one person has already filed a declaration of candidacy with the city's board of elections. But today begins the first real test for council hopefuls, as they'll have to gather enough valid signatures to get on the ballot. In this case, they'll need the autographs of 500 Ward 5 residents.
And unlike the city's closed primary elections in April, the May 14 special election is open to all candidates and voters, regardless of party affiliation.