DCision 2010 begins in earnest: We have our first official D.C. Council challenger.

That would be the Rev. Anthony Motley, the Congress Heights minister and civic activist. Earlier this month, he sent a letter to a select group of friends, informing them that he has “decided to launch a campaign for an At-Large City Council seat in 2010” and inviting them to an April 4 meeting at the downtown law offices of A. Scott Bolden to discuss it.

In an interview, Motley, 59, says he simply “want[s] to explore the possibilities.”

“I’ve been asked by a number of people to consider doing it,” he says, name-checking his own pastor, Raymond C. Bell of First Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church as well as a mysterious “dear friend of mine in upper Ward 4.” Bolden, he says, is “a friend, and Scott had been encouraging to me.” (Bolden, of course, ran in this race four years ago as a Democrat and was trounced in the primary by Phil Mendelson.)

The big question is whether he has the backing of Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry. Motley is a confidant of Barry’s and is often seen in public with the mayor-for-life, including after his recent kidney transplant surgery. Motley says that surgery has precluded any real talks with his patron: “He’s been ill, so we haven’t really talked a lot about this, but hopefully once he gets better, gets on his feet, I’ll sit down and talk to him about it and hopefully he’ll be supporter.”

His rhetoric, unsurprisingly, jibes with Barry’s last-least-and-lost chestnuts. In his letter, Motley wrote, “It is my desire to reach out into our beloved city and touch those whose lives are being impacted by the conditions which have compromised the safety and stability of our neighborhoods, and created uncertainty among our employees, families and businesses. It is my hope that I can share my vision of a city that cares for its people, protects its most vulnerable, our seniors and youth, and secures a future for our children and their children.”

Another tricky issue is his party affiliation: Motley’s an elected member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, but his thus-far bare-bones Web site takes a page out of the Michael A. Brown playbook and bills the candidate as an “Independent-Democrat.” A Democratic run would pit him against Mendelson, who is expected to run for a fourth term, while any other affiliation would put him up against David A. Catania, should he choose to run for a fourth full term.

Motley says he isn’t yet sure about his affiliation: “I’m a registered Democrat. I believe in the Democratic principles, but we haven’t made a decision yet.”