Code of the District of Columbia

§ 1–204.01. Creation and membership.

(a) There is established a Council of the District of Columbia; and the members of the Council shall be elected by the registered qualified electors of the District.

(b)(1) The Council established under subsection (a) of this section shall consist of 13 members elected on a partisan basis. The Chairman and 4 members shall be elected at large in the District, and 8 members shall be elected 1 each from the 8 election wards established, from time to time, under Chapter 10 of this title. The term of office of the members of the Council shall be 4 years, except as provided in paragraph (3) of this subsection, and shall begin at noon on January 2nd of the year following their election.

(2) In the case of the first election held for the office of member of the Council after January 2, 1975, not more than 2 of the at-large members (excluding the Chairman) shall be nominated by the same political party. Thereafter, a political party may nominate a number of candidates for the office of at-large member of the Council equal to 1 less than the total number of at-large members (excluding the Chairman) to be elected in such election.

(3) To fill a vacancy in the Office of Chairman, the Board of Elections shall hold a special election in the District on the Tuesday occurring at least 70 days and not more than 174 days after the date on which such vacancy occurs which the Board of Elections determines, based on a totality of the circumstances, taking into account, inter alia, cultural and religious holidays and the administrability of the election, will provide the opportunity for the greatest level of voter participation. The person elected Chairman to fill a vacancy in the Office of Chairman shall take office on the day in which the Board of Elections and Ethics certifies his election, and shall serve as Chairman only for the remainder of the term during which such vacancy occurred. When the Office of Chairman becomes vacant, the Council shall select one of the elected at-large members of the Council to serve as Chairman and one to serve as Chairman pro tempore until the election of a new Chairman.

(4) Of the members first elected after January 2, 1975, the Chairman and 2 members elected at large and 4 of the members elected from election wards shall serve for 4-year terms; and 2 of the at-large members and 4 of the members elected from election wards shall serve for 2-year terms. The members to serve the 4-year terms and the members to serve the 2-year terms shall be determined by the Board of Elections and Ethics by lot, except that not more than one of the at-large members nominated by any political party shall serve for any such 4-year term.

(c) The Council may establish and select such other officers and employees as it deems necessary and appropriate to carry out the functions of the Council.

(d)(1) In the event of a vacancy in the Council of a member elected from a ward, the Board of Elections shall hold a special election in the District on the Tuesday occurring at least 70 days and not more than 174 days after the date on which such vacancy occurs which the Board of Elections determines, based on a totality of the circumstances, taking into account, inter alia, cultural and religious holidays and the administrability of the election, will provide the opportunity for the greatest level of voter participation. The person elected as a member to fill a vacancy on the Council shall take office on the day on which the Board of Elections and Ethics certifies his election, and shall serve as a member of the Council only for the remainder of the term during which such vacancy occurred.

(2) In the event of a vacancy in the Office of Mayor, and if the Chairman becomes a candidate for the Office of Mayor to fill such vacancy, the Office of Chairman shall be deemed vacant as of the date of the filing of his candidacy. In the event of a vacancy in the Council of a member elected at large, other than a vacancy in the Office of Chairman, who is affiliated with a political party, the central committee of such political party shall appoint a person to fill such vacancy, until the Board of Elections and Ethics can hold a special election to fill such vacancy, and such special election shall be held on the Tuesday occurring at least 70 days and not more than 174 days after the date on which such vacancy occurs which the Board of Elections determines, based on a totality of the circumstances, taking into account, inter alia, cultural and religious holidays and the administrability of the election, will provide the opportunity for the greatest level of voter participation. The person appointed to fill such vacancy shall take office on the date of his appointment and shall serve as a member of the Council until the day on which the Board certifies the election of the member elected to fill such vacancy in either a special election or a general election. The person elected as a member to fill such a vacancy on the Council shall take office on the day on which the Board of Elections and Ethics certifies his election, and shall serve as a member of the Council only for the remainder of the term during which such vacancy occurred. With respect to a vacancy on the Council of a member elected at large who is not affiliated with any political party, the Council shall appoint a similarly non-affiliated person to fill such vacancy until such vacancy can be filled in a special election in the manner prescribed in this paragraph. Such person appointed by the Council shall take office and serve as a member at the same time and for the same term as a member appointed by a central committee of a political party.

(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, at no time shall there be more than 3 members (including the Chairman) serving at large on the Council who are affiliated with the same political party.

(e)(1) By a 5/6 vote of its members, the Council may adopt a resolution of expulsion if it finds, based on substantial evidence, that a member of the Council took an action that amounts to a gross failure to meet the highest standards of personal and professional conduct. Expulsion is the most severe punitive action, serving as a penalty imposed for egregious wrongdoing. Expulsion results in the removal of the member. Expulsion should be used in cases in which the Council determines that the violation of law committed by a member is of the most serious nature, including those violations that substantially threaten the public trust. To protect the exercise of official member duties and the overriding principle of freedom of speech, the Council shall not impose expulsion on any member for the exercise of his or her First Amendment right, no matter how distasteful the expression of that right was to the Council and the District, or in the official exercise of his or her office.

(2) The Council shall include in its Rules of Organization procedures for investigation, and consideration of, the expulsion of a member.


(Dec. 24, 1973, 87 Stat. 785, Pub. L. 93-198, title IV, § 401; Aug. 14, 1974, 88 Stat. 458, Pub. L. 93-376, title III, § 306(a); Aug. 29, 1974, 88 Stat. 793, Pub. L. 93-395, § 1(2); July 18, 2012, 126 Stat. 1133, Pub. L. 112-145, § 2(a); July 31, 2013, D.C. Law 19-124A, § 401(a), 59 DCR 1862.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 1-221.

1973 Ed., § 1-141.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 1-203.03, § 1-204.114, § 1-207.71, § 1-301.47, § 1-603.01, § 1-1001.17, § 2-502, § 2-601, § 2-1401.02, § 38-1201.03, § 38-1800.02, § 39-202, § 47-802, and § 47-1401.

Effect of Amendments

Pub. L. 112-145, in subsec. (b)(3), rewrote the first sentence, which had read: “To fill a vacancy in the Office of Chairman, the Board of Elections and Ethics shall hold a special election in the District on the 1st Tuesday occurring more than 114 days after the date on which such vacancy occurs, unless the Board of Elections and Ethics determines that such vacancy could be more practicably filled in a special election held on the same day as the next general election to be held in the District occurring within 60 days of the date on which a special election would otherwise have been held under the provisions of this paragraph.”; in subsec. (d)(1), rewrote the first sentence which had read: “In the event of a vacancy in the Council of a member elected from a ward, the Board of Elections and Ethics shall hold a special election in such ward to fill such vacancy on the 1st Tuesday occurring more than 114 days after the date on which such vacancy occurs, unless the Board of Elections and Ethics determines that such vacancy could be more practicably filled in a special election held on the same day as the next general election to be held in the District occurring within 60 days of the date on which a special election would otherwise have been held under the provisions of this subsection.”; and, in the second sentence of subsec. (d)(2), substituted “and such special election shall be held on the Tuesday occurring at least 70 days and not more than 174 days after the date on which such vacancy occurs which the Board of Elections determines, based on a totality of the circumstances, taking into account, inter alia, cultural and religious holidays and the administrability of the election, will provide the opportunity for the greatest level of voter participation.” for “and such special election shall be held on the 1st Tuesday occurring more than 114 days after the date on which such vacancy occurs unless the Board of Elections and Ethics determines that such vacancy could be more practicably filled in a special election held on the same day as the next general election to be held in the District occurring within 60 days of the date on which a special election would otherwise be held under the provisions of this subsection.”

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-124A added (e).

Cross References

Elected officials, use of official mail, see § 2-701 et seq.

Elections, recall of elected officials, see § 1-1001.17.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see §§ 2(a), 3 of Special Election Reform Charter Emergency Amendment Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-591, November 3, 2010, 57 DCR 10470).

For temporary (90 day) addition of section, see § 3 of Special Election Reform Charter Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2011 (D.C. Act 19-7, February 11, 2011, 58 DCR 1416).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Special Election Reform Charter Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2011 (D.C. Act 19-7, February 11, 2011, 58 DCR 1416).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 301(a) of Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-298, January 29, 2012, 59 DCR 683).

For temporary (90 day) addition of section, see § 602(b) of Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-298, January 29, 2012, 59 DCR 683).

Temporary Legislation

Section 2(a) of D.C. Law 18-301, in subsecs. (b) and (d), substituted “more than seventy days” for “more than one hundred fourteen days” wherever it appears.

Section 3 of D.C. Law 18-301 provided that this act shall apply upon enactment by Congress.

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 18-301 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Effective Dates

Section 3 of Pub. L. 112-145 provided: “Sec. 3. Effective Date. The amendments made by section 2 shall apply with respect to vacancies occurring on or after the enactment of this Act.”

Section 601(j) of D.C. Law 19-124 provided: “(j) Title IV shall apply on its effective date as provided in section 303 of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 784; D.C. Official Code § 1-203.03).”

Section 601(j) of D.C. Law 19-124 contained an applicability clause for title IV of the Act that stated that title IV, containing section 401, would become law upon its ratification by a majority of the registered qualified electors of the District of Columbia voting in a referendum and following 35 days of congressional review.

Section 702(b) of D.C. Law 19-124 provided that § 401 of the act would become law upon its ratification by a majority of the registered qualified electors of the District of Columbia voting in a referendum and following 35 days of congressional review.

D.C. Law 19-124 became effective on April 27, 2012. Section 401 of that law was ratified by the electors of the District of Columbia in a general and special election held on November 6, 2012, and certified by the District of Columbia Board of Elections on November 29, 2012. Section 401 became effective as law on July 31, 2013, following 35 days of congressional review and assigned Law Number 19-124A. D.C. Law 19-124A, § 401 amended sections 401, 402, and 421 of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act (D.C. Official Code §§ 1-204.01, 1-204.02, and 1-204.21).

Editor's Notes

Section 2 of D.C. Law 17-156 amended this section subject to congressional enactment. As of the publication of this note, congress has not enacted section 2 of D.C. Law 17-156.

Applicability of D.C. Law 19-124, § 401: Section 601(j) of D.C. Law 19-124 provided that Title IV of the act shall apply on its effective date as provided in § 1-203.03; in other words, that D.C. Law 19-124, § 401 shall apply upon its ratification by a majority of the registered qualified electors of the District of Columbia voting in a referendum and following 35 days of congressional review.