A lawyer who wants to decriminalize marijuana in the District is the first person to submit the paperwork necessary to earn a spot on the April 23 special election ballot for an at-large D.C. Council seat.

A spokeswoman for the D.C. Board of Elections said Monday that Paul Zukerberg submitted his signed petitions Monday, and Zukerberg said in an email that he had filed 3,091 signatures.

"The response we have been getting is really encouraging," he said.

The foundation of Zukerberg's campaign is his proposal to make marijuana possession a civil infraction instead of a criminal misdemeanor, a change that he says would allow the District to save time and money while allowing more residents to avoid the stigma of a criminal record.

Although Zukerberg was the first person to file his petitions, more submissions are expected in the coming days.

Nineteen other people -- including incumbent Councilwoman Anita Bonds and former Councilman Michael Brown -- have picked up petitions, and they have until Jan. 23 to submit 3,000 signatures each.

The special election is to permanently fill the seat vacated by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson when he became council chairman. Bonds won the interim appointment through a vote of local Democratic insiders in December.