Paul Zukerberg, an attorney who wants to decriminalize marijuana, is the first hopeful to submit enough signatures to qualify as a candidate in the April special election for a seat on the DC Council.
Zukerberg has turned in 3,091 signatures from registered voters to District election officials. He exceeded the required number of signatures by 91 and plans to continue collecting signatures until the deadline.
So far, over 20 candidates have announced plans to run for the at-large seat in April. Potential candidates have until January 23rd to gather the required signatures. It’s expected that not all 20 will collect enough signatures to have their names on the ballot.
Zukerberg, 55, spends the majority of his professional time defending marijuana possession cases. He believes that decriminalization of marijuana needs to come to Washington DC.
“We are behind New York. We are behind Chicago. We are locking up young people and giving them records for a joint or roach of marijuana,” said Zukerberg, who said he has defended more than 1,000 marijuana cases during his 25-year legal career. “These kids can’t get jobs. They can’t get into school. They are on probation.”
If elected, Zukerberg would join council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8 ) in advocating for the decriminalization of marijuana. But Zukerberg said he will also campaign on improving education, a more sustainable transportation network and ethics reform.
In February, the DC Board of Elections will officially rule on which candidates qualify for the ballot. Denied candidates will then have the option to appeal, and the final ballot will be set on March 1.