WASHINGTON – Former Washington Mayor Marion Barry (search), whose political career survived a drug arrest and prison sentence, announced Saturday he is running for the city council.
He will seek the seat on the District of Columbia Council for the city's Ward 8, a southeastern Washington area of mostly poor people that long has served as Barry's political base.
Barry, 68, announced his new comeback effort before a crowd of about 30 supporters outside his campaign headquarters. Many of those on hand still called him "mayor."
During his third term as mayor, Barry was caught on an FBI video smoking crack cocaine in January 1990. He was convicted seven months later of misdemeanor drug possession in another incident, and sentenced to six months in prison.
After his release in April 1992, Barry ran for the Ward 8 Council seat and won. That helped propel him to a fourth term as mayor in 1994. Barry said Saturday he has no aspirations to try for a fifth term — although he added never to say never.
Barry had considered a run for council in 2002 but dropped those plans after U.S. Park Police said they found small amounts of marijuana and crack in his car. In a recent radio interview, Barry said the police planted the drugs. Park Police dismiss Barry's claim.
Barry was treated for prostate cancer in 1995 and suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, but he said Saturday he feels fine.
A Sept. 14 Democratic primary will pit Barry against Sandy Allen, a two-term incumbent, and five other candidates. Winning that primary all but assures victory in November in the overwhelmingly Democratic ward.
Washington Mayor Anthony Williams, who succeeded Barry in 1999, said of his candidacy, "It's American society. Everybody's got a right to run."