Nov 8, 2021 - News
Scoop: Ex-D.C. Council member Harry Thomas plans run
 Harry Thomas, Jr., former Ward 5 city councilman, departs the courthouse after being sentenced for stealing $350,000 in earmarked city funds.
Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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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