November 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Pannell loses bid for D.C. school board seat
Phillip Pannell, gay news, Washington Blade

Longtime LGBT activist Phil Pannell again fell short in his bid for a seat on the school board. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Veteran gay and Ward 8 community activist Phil Pannell lost his bid for a Ward 8 seat on the D.C. State Board of Education for the second year in a row on Tuesday, finishing far behind incumbent school board member Trayon “Tray” White.

Final but unofficial returns from the D.C. Board of Elections show White captured 72.5 percent of the vote, with Pannell receiving 27.1 percent.

Pannell lost to White in a special election last year by fewer than 200 votes. Ward 8 gay Democratic activist Bradley Lewis, a Pannell supporter, said Pannell faced a greater challenge this year because White had the benefit of incumbency.

Lewis said White also benefited from the support of Ward 8 Council member and former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who is highly popular in the ward. Barry breezed to re-election on Tuesday, trouncing challenger Jauhar Abraham by an 87 percent to 12 percent margin.

In a separate school board race, gay Dupont Circle ANC Commissioner Jack Jacobson won election to the board’s Ward 2 seat. Jacobson ran unopposed.

In a development expected by most political observers, acting Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) won his race to become Council Chair in a special election. Mendelson, who had been serving as acting chair, beat Democratic challenger Calvin Gurley by a 75.5 percent to 27.3 percent margin.

Mendelson is a longtime supporter of LGBT rights and played a key role in helping to pass the city’s same-sex marriage law as chair of the committee with jurisdiction over the law.

In the hotly contested race for the at-large D.C. Council seat reserved for a non-Democratic candidate, challenger David Grosso beat incumbent Michael A. Brown. Both are independents. With 100 percent of the city’s 142 precincts counted, Grosso received 20.8 percent of the vote; Brown received 15 percent of the vote.

Both candidates are strong supporters of LGBT rights and campaigned aggressively for the LGBT vote. Most political observers say Brown lost due to voter concern about a series of personal and campaign financial problems that surfaced over the past several years

The two were competing in a seven-candidate race for two at-large seats up for grabs this year. Under the city’s election law, the candidates finishing in first and second place win the seats. Incumbent Council member Vincent Orange, a Democrat, won re-election to the other seat, capturing 37.4 percent of the vote.

Republican Mary Brooks Beatty received 7 percent of the vote, independent candidates A.J. Cooper and Leon Swain each received 6.6 percent, and Statehood Green Party candidate Ann Wilcox received 5.8 percent.

Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who are also strong supporters of LGBT rights, won re-election unopposed.

Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward) beat Republican challenger Ron Moten by a margin of 86.7 percent to 12.3 percent.

In other D.C. races, Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton won re-election with 88.7 percent of the vote, defeating gay Libertarian Party candidate Bruce Majors, who received 5.8 percent of the vote, and Statehood Green Party candidate Natale Stracuzzi, who received 4.7 percent.

Norton, a longtime strong supporter on LGBT issues, received the endorsement of the Stein Club. Major, who has also been a longtime gay activist, was endorsed by the gay conservative group GOProud.

D.C. shadow Senator Michael D. Brown and shadow House candidate Nate Bennett-Fleming, who also received the Stein Club’s endorsement, won their races by lopsided margins.

LGBT supportive at-large school board candidate Mary Lord and Ward 7 school board candidate 
Karen Williams, who also expressed support on LGBT rights, won their respective races by comfortable margins.

Sixteen of 21 openly gay candidates known to the Blade who ran for seats on the city’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions on Tuesday either won their races or were ahead of their opponents, according to final but unofficial returns reported by the city’s election board. Ten of them ran unopposed.

Gay Democratic activist John Fanning was leading opponent Joel Heisey by 299 votes to 285 votes in ANC District 2F03 in the Logan Circle area.

In the hotly contested race for ANC 6E02, located in the Shaw-Mt. Vernon Square area, gay incumbent Kevin Chapple was leading rival Leroy Thorpe, a longtime opponent of LGBT rights, by just one vote with 274 votes to Thorpe’s 273 votes. Gay candidate Martin Moulton had 124 votes and a fourth candidate for the district, Eugene Simms, received 118 votes.

The final outcome of the two races is expected to become known later this month when the election board counts absentee and provisional ballots.

Gay Georgetown University student Craig Cassey ran unopposed as a write-in candidate for ANC 2E04, a district located entirely on the Georgetown campus. Although he’s expected to emerge as the winner, the Board of Elections won’t be able to determine whether another write-in candidate received more votes than Cassey until all write-in votes are identified later this month. Election returns show that only 9 write-in votes were cast for the 2E04 seat.

The gay candidates who won their races are Marc Morgan, 1B01 (unopposed); Jimmy Rock, 1C08 (unopposed); Mike Feldstein, 2B01 (unopposed); Victor Wexler, 2B05 (unopposed); Mike Silverstein, 2B06 (unopposed); Walt Cain, 2F02; Chris Linn, 2F03 (unopposed); Matt Raymond, 2F07 (unopposed); Lee Brian Reba, 3C01 (unopposed); Bob Summersgill, 3F07 (unopposed); Andy Litsky, 6D04 (unopposed); Roger Moffatt, 6D05; Alex Padro, 6E01; Anthony Lorenzo, 8B04.

The gay candidates who lost their races were Erling ‘Erl’ Bailey, 1B12; Martin Espinoza, 2B04; and Chad Hrdina, 5E06.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

1 Comment
  • I know under the rule of Delegate Norton’s party DC public schools have a 45% drop out rate, but do you realize you managed to spell my name both Major and Majors in the same paragraph.

    Now that I have some free time you could hire me to copy edit part time.

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