Washington, D.C.

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Washington, D.C., District of Columbia
General information
Muriel Bowser1.jpg
Mayor:Muriel Bowser
Mayor party:Democratic
Last mayoral election:November 4, 2014
Next mayoral election:2018
Last city council election:November 4, 2014
Next city council election:2016
City council seats:13
2014 FY Budget:$10.1 Billion
City website
Composition data
Population in 2013:646,449
Gender:52.6% Female
Race:African American 49.5%
White 43.4%
Asian 3.9%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 0.6%
Two or More 2.6%
Ethnicity:Hispanic or Latino 10.1%
Median household income:$64,267
High school graduation rate:87.5%
College graduation rate:51.2%
Related Washington, D.C. offices
Washington D.C. "Shadow" Representatives
Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States. In accordance with the U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, it is not part of a state. As of 2013, its population was 646,449.[1]

City government

See also: Mayor-council government

The city of Washington, D.C. utilizes a "strong mayor" and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city's primary legislative body while the Mayor serves as the city's chief executive officer.

Home rule

For most of its history, the local administration of Washington, D.C. fell under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress. This changed in 1973 when the "District of Columbia Home Rule Act of 1973" allowed for the creation of a municipal government that included a city council, which serves as the city's primary legislative body, and a mayor, who serves as the city's chief executive. However, under the "Home Rule Act," the U.S. Congress still has the right to review and approve municipal legislation as well as the city's annual operating budget.[2]


The Mayor of Washington, D.C. is the city's chief executive, and is responsible for proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental directors and committee members and overseeing the city's day-to-day operations. Muriel Bowser is the current Mayor of Washington, D.C..[3][4]

City council

The Washington, D.C. City Council is the city's primary legislative body. The council votes on and drafts legislation, approves the city's annual budget and sets the revenue required to fund the budget. Additionally, the council appoints members to boards and commissions and gives the final say on appointments made by the Mayor.[5][6]


The Washington, D.C. City Council consists of thirteen members. Eight are elected by the city's eight wards, while five - including the council chairperson - are elected at-large.[6]

For a current list of council members, see here


The Washington, D.C. City Council has ten standing committees that are responsible for shaping city policies and drafting legislation. Generally, the drafting of city legislation begins with the committees.[7]

For a full list of city council committees, see here.



See also: Washington, D.C. municipal elections, 2015

The city of Washington, D.C., will hold a special election for city council on April 28, 2015. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was January 28, 2015. The District 4 seat of Muriel Bowser (D) is vacant following her election as Mayor of Washington, D.C. on November 4, 2014, while the District 8 seat of Marion Barry (D) is vacant following his death on November 23, 2014.[8] The winners of these two races will serve terms that expire in 2016.


See also: Washington, D.C. municipal elections, 2014

The city of Washington, D.C. held elections for mayor and city council on November 4, 2014. A primary election took place on April 1, 2014. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was January 2, 2014.

The District of Columbia holds closed primaries, meaning only voters registered with that political party can vote in the primary. Citizens had to complete party affiliation changes by March 3, 2014, in order to vote in the primary.[9] Candidates looking to qualify for the ballot as an independent candidate needed to turn in petitions 90 days prior to the November 4 election, which was August 6, 2014.


Washington, D.C.'s budget for fiscal year 2014 totaled $10.1 billion.[10]

Contact information

Office of the Mayor
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 316
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 727-6300
Fax: (202) 727-0505
TTY: 711
email: eom@dc.gov

City Council
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004

See here to contact individual Council members.


As of November 2014, up-to-date information on Washington, D.C.'s federal lobbying related expenses is unavailable.

Ballot measures

See also Local ballot measures, Washington, D.C. and Campaign finance requirements for Washington, D.C. ballot measures

On the process for initiatives and referendums in Washington, D.C., see here.

On the history of initiatives and referendums in Washington, D.C., see here.

Issues in the city

Marijuana legalization

See also: Washington D.C. Marijuana Legalization, Initiative 71 (November 2014)

On November 4, 2014, D.C. voters approved a ballot measure known as the Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014. The measure permits individuals 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use; to grow up to six cannabis plants within the their principal residence; to transfer without payment (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to another person 21 years of age or older; and to use or sell drug paraphernalia for the purpose of the growing or processing of marijuana or cannabis.[11]

In December 2014, however, the U.S. Congress - which oversees Washington, D.C.'s city budget and legislative process - attached an amendment, known as a rider, to the 2015 federal budget that effectively prohibits the city from implementing or regulating the measure. Specifically, the amendment forbids the use of federal or local funds “to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance.” Depending on how one reads the rider, it forbids city officials in D.C. not only from planning for implementation and regulation but also from transmitting the measure to Congress for approval, a process through which all new legislation in D.C. must go before becoming law.[12][13]

Nonetheless, on January 13, 2015, Phil Mendelson, Chairman of the D.C. City Council, formally submitted the measure to Congress. In accordance with federal law, that action began a 30-day congressional review period, which is scheduled to end on February 26, 2015.[14][15] The law officially took effect on February 26, 2015.[16]

The official stance of D.C. elected officials was that the budget amendment held no bearing on the marijuana measure. They argued that the law was “enacted” on November 4, 2014, when 115,050 District voters approved it.[15] Conversely, congressional Republicans such as Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) - the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which is the committee responsible for reviewing D.C. municipal laws - argued that any attempt on the part of elected city officials in D.C. to move forward with the law would be in violation of the federal budget rider.[17]

Election day irregularities

On February 6, 2015, the District of Columbia Auditor's Office released a report detailing a number of election day voting irregularities that occurred in the city's 2014 municipal elections. These irregularities included insufficient staffing at 23 out of 89 polling places, outdated or malfunctioning equipment, polling sites that failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a lack of basic election day supplies such as signage and stationary and several instances of improper voting procedures. The latter category included at least one instance of a voter being asked to provide photo identification before being allowed to vote. The presentation of photo identification is not required under D.C. election laws.[18]

The audit was requested by D.C. council member Kenyan McDuffie (D), who, as The Washington Post noted, has regularly criticized the D.C. Board of Elections throughout his tenure.[19]

You can read the full audit here.

See also

External links


  1. U.S. Census, "State and County Quick Facts," accessed on August 5, 2014
  2. DC Council, "DC Home Rule," accessed on August 28, 2014
  3. Washington, D.C., "Office of the Mayor," accessed on August 5, 2014
  4. District of Columbia Official Code, "Section: I.1.2.IV.B," accessed on February 18, 2015
  5. District of Columbia Official Code, "Section: I.1.1.IV.B," accessed on February 18, 2015
  6. 6.0 6.1 D.C. Council, "About," accessed on February 18, 2015
  7. DC Council, "Committees," accessed on August 6, 2014
  8. Washington, D.C. Board of Elections, "Special Election Calendar," accessed December 31, 2014
  9. District of Columbia, "Board of Elections, Candidate Guide to Ballot Access," accessed December 17, 2013
  10. City of Washington, D.C., "FY 2014 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan," accessed on August 8, 2013
  11. DCMJ 2014 website, "Home," accessed January 13, 2014
  12. Washington Times, "Congress axes D.C. marijuana legalization in spending plan," December 9, 2014
  13. WXII 12 News, "Activists: House to block DC pot legalization," December 10, 2014
  14. RT, "DC Council sends pot legalization measure for congressional review despite ban," January 14, 2015
  15. 15.0 15.1 Washington Times, "D.C.’s marijuana legalization initiative under review by Congress," January 14, 2015
  16. KTLA, "Washington DC Law Legalizing Marijuana Goes Into Effect," February 26, 2015
  17. The Washington Post, "D.C. challenges Congress to halt marijuana legalization in nation’s capital," January 13, 2015
  18. The Washington Post, "Document: D.C. Board of Elections audit," February 6, 2015
  19. The Washington Post, "Audit: No-show poll workers, outdated equipment marred D.C. election," February 9, 2015