WASHINGTON — The only son of former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry is seeking his late father’s seat on the D.C. Council.
Marion Christopher Barry, 34, picked up nominating petitions at the D.C. Board of Elections on Monday.
Marion Barry died in November at age 78. His son becomes one of 23 candidates trying to make the ballot for an April special election to replace him on the council. The elder Barry represented Ward 8, the poorest section of the city, for the last 10 years of his life, and he remained beloved in the majority-black ward even though his citywide popularity never recovered after his 1990 drug arrest.
His son, who goes by Christopher, said in an interview that he’s always had political ambitions even though he hasn’t discussed them publicly. He said his father urged him to run for the seat one day.
“I always admired him, not just as my father but who he was as a leader, and I always took notes when I was around him,” Barry said. “I’ve been living this for 34 years. It’s really a part of my life. It’s kind of like second nature.”
The younger Barry has been arrested three times on drug and traffic charges, most recently last July, when he was jailed after he was caught driving on a revoked license. He pleaded guilty to that charge in December and is currently serving 9 months’ probation and undergoing drug and alcohol treatment.
“That’s definitely all behind me. Like most young people, I’ve gone through my phases and experimented in drugs. I paid a great price for that and I’ve learned from my mistakes,” Barry said. “I feel as though that experience has made me more qualified to help people who have gone through rough times in life.”
Barry runs a small construction business that has worked as a subcontractor on city government projects, including school construction. He said that experience makes him well-equipped to provide economic opportunity to Ward 8 residents — one of his father’s signature issues.
“My advocacy has been through the private sector, not through any public office,” he said. “I’ve always tried to provide jobs and show people that hard work is the way you pull yourself out of poverty.”