Former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. tells Axios he will run for his old seat in Ward 5, nine years after resigning and serving a prison sentence for stealing public funds.
Driving the news: Thomas says he plans to file campaign papers this week in order to participate in the first Ward 5 candidates forum, hosted tomorrow by D.C. for Democracy.
- "I think my community is a redemptive community," Thomas says about his public downfall. "I let them down," but adds, "I think I've rebuilt a lot of community trust and hard work."
- In Ward 5, the city's second-fastest-growing ward, he touted his past work delivering constituent services — a favorite priority among some city lawmakers such as his own late father, who as council member emphasized neighborhood concerns ranging from trash pickup to broken sidewalks.
- "The city is leaving a lot of people behind and we have to figure out how all of the prosperity" is spread around, Thomas added.
Flashback: Thomas resigned as Ward 5 council member in 2012 and served a prison term for federal theft and tax charges after using $350,000 in taxpayer funds meant for children's programs. Authorities had said he spent the money on a luxury SUV and other personal items, and he was sentenced to 38 months.
- Now at age 61, he has slowly been returning to political and civic circles, most recently winning a seat on a local advisory neighborhood commission.
- He said he advocated for returning citizens as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention last year.
The race for Ward 5 has turned into a free-for-all after incumbent council member Kenyan McDuffie declined another run and instead launched a campaign to become attorney general.
- Other candidates so far include: former council member Vincent Orange; Faith Gibson Hubbard, most recently a community affairs director for the mayor; advisory neighborhood commissioner Gordon-Andrew Lee Fletcher; and Ward 5 education board member Zachary Parker.
- Thomas says he hasn't made up his mind on whether he will run using public campaign financing.
Editor's note: This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.
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