Sharon Pratt Kelly ran Patricia Robert Harris' failed attempt in 1982 to oust Marion Barry as DC Mayor, but won her own effort in 1990. In doing so, Kelly became the nation's first African-American woman to be mayor of a major city.
Though she was raised in Washington, Kelly had always been more involved in national politics than the city's affairs. Prior to her election, Kelly had served for 13 years as the District's representative to the Democratic National Committee, and in her last five years at the DNC, Kelly also served as the Committee's treasurer. Outside of politics, Kelly was a Vice President at a regional power company, with responsibilities in both community relations and public policy.
Kelly began her mayoral campaign at the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta, but received her biggest boost when Marion Barry bowed out of the race after his 1990 drug conviction. Kelly's tenure as mayor was characterized by several failed attempts to install widespread reforms in city government, the deepening of the city's financial woes, and a deteriorating relationship with Congress. In her second year as Mayor, Barry loyalists tried to begin a recall campaign to remove Kelly from office. Though the effort failed, it had the effect of dissuading further attempts at reform. Kelly finished a distance third in the 1994 Democratic primary, losing to Marion Barry.
Kelly received both her undergraduate degree and law degree from Howard University, and was a professor in law at Antioch College before moving back to Washington in 1977. Kelly is married to businessman James R. Kelly III.