Veteran gay activist and Ward 8 community leader Phil Pannell filed papers last week to become a candidate for a seat on the D.C. State Board of Education from Ward 8.
Pannell, 61, came in second place in a nine-candidate race for the seat in an April 2011 special election called after the incumbent, William Lockridge, died in office. Pannell lost to 26-year-old Trayon White, who received endorsements from Lockridge’s wife and from D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8). Pannell was endorsed by the Washington Post.
Pannell’s supporters said Barry’s popularity and influence in the ward most likely enabled White to beat Pannell, whom supporters say has more experience and knowledge in education and D.C. public school related issues than White.
During last year’s campaign, White said he founded a non-profit organization to provide assistance to inner city youth and noted that he had been mentored on education issues by Lockridge.
As of this week, White, who’s seeking re-election to a full term, has one opponent in addition to Pannell – Larry T. Pretlow II.
Pannell becomes the second out gay candidate this year for a seat on the State Board of Education. Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Jack Jacobson is running unopposed for the board’s Ward 2 seat.
In a July 24 commentary, Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy portrayed Pannell as a seasoned community activist who has been active in D.C. politics and grassroots community work since 1975.