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WASHINGTON (AP) — The only son of Marion Barry, a onetime popular mayor of the nation’s capital who died last year, is seeking his late father’s seat on the D.C. Council.

Marion Christopher Barry, 34, picked up nominating petitions Monday at the District of Columbia Board of Elections. His father died last November at age 78.

The son becomes one of 23 candidates bidding to make the ballot for an April special election for the council seat.

The elder Barry represented Ward 8, the poorest section of the nation’s capital, for the last 10 years of his life, and he remained beloved by many though his citywide popularity never fully recovered after a 1990 drug arrest.

His son, who goes by the name Christopher, filed as a candidate under the name Marion C. Barry. He said in an interview that he’s always had political ambitions even though he hasn’t discussed them publicly. He said his father urged him to run for the seat one day.

“I always admired him, not just as my father but who he was as a leader, and I always took notes when I was around him,” Barry said. “I’ve been living this for 34 years. It’s really a part of my life.”

The younger Barry has been arrested three times on drug and traffic charges, most recently last July, when he was jailed after he was caught driving on a revoked license. He pleaded guilty to that charge in December and is currently serving 9 months’ probation and undergoing drug and alcohol treatment.

“That’s definitely all behind me. Like most young people, I’ve gone through my phases and experimented in drugs. I paid a great price for that and I’ve learned from my mistakes,” Barry said. “I feel as though that experience has made me more qualified to help people who have gone through rough times in life.”

Barry runs a small construction business that has worked as a subcontractor on city government projects, including school construction.

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