News

Marion Barry’s Son Wants His Father’s Council Seat—and Name

The mayor-for-life's dream of a Ward 8 dynasty is back.

Christopher Barry, the son of Marion Barry and his third wife, Effi, picked up documents Monday from the DC Board of Elections to pursue his father’s old seat on the DC Council. The younger Barry, who was once groomed to succeed his dad in Ward 8, is joining an overstuffed field for an April 28 special election that includes at least 22 other potential candidates.

But in picking up his nominating petitions, Christopher Barry might have revealed one of his biggest tactical advantages: he’ll be running under his legal name, Marion C. Barry. Barry, 34, needs to collect signatures from 500 Ward 8 voters by January 28 to make the ballot. But Christopher Barry isn’t the only ward notable hoping to replace Barry the Elder, who died November 23 at age 78. Already in the hunt are Ward 8 Democratic boss Natalie Williams, voting-rights activist Eugene Kinlow, former “shadow representative” Nate Bennett-Fleming, and perennial candidate Sandra “S.S.” Seegars.

Although the late mayor-for-life once openly hoped his son would succeed him in Ward 8, Christopher Barry’s ascension into DC politics had become less clear in recent years after a string of legal troubles. He pleaded guilty last month to driving under the influence of alcohol. He was also charged at various points last year with violating a stay-away order, failing to obey police orders, and possessing synthetic marijuana, though some of the other charges were dropped following his drunk-driving admission. He was previously sentenced to 18 months probation in 2011 on felony and misdemeanor drug charges.

Still, Barry was at his father’s side in public often last year. He sat alongside Marion in endorsing then-Mayor Vince Gray’s re-election bid, and gave a lengthy eulogy at Marion’s public funeral.

Winning his dad’s old Council seat might take more than a quick coronation, though. Former Muriel Bowser campaign staffer LaRuby May has the backing of the new mayor’s political team, but there could be a certain genius in Christopher Barry rebranding himself. For starters, he’s tweeting under the handle @marioncbarry.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.