Gay civic and education advocate Phil Pannell’s quest for a seat on the D.C. State Board of Education in Ward 8 narrowed to a two-candidate race this week when one of his two opponents, Darrell Gaston, dropped out of the race.
Gaston’s withdrawal for “personal and family issues” places Pannell in a two-candidate race against Ward 8 civic activist Tierra Jolly, a social studies teacher at a Catholic high school in Prince George’s County, Md.
Pannell and Jolly are competing in a special election scheduled for July 15 to fill a seat that became vacant earlier this year when incumbent Trayon White resigned to take a D.C. government job.
“In the 2011 special election for the same seat, I came in second in a field of eight candidates and fell a little more than 200 votes short of victory,” Pannell said in a June 16 fundraising letter to LGBT activists. “I am working hard to win this election,” he said.
Pannell lost to White by a wider margin when he ran again for the seat in 2012. But his supporters say Pannell’s close to 30 years of involvement in Ward 8 civic and school-related issues makes him a strong candidate with a good shot at winning if he can raise sufficient funds to get his message out to voters.
Among those backing Pannell is D.C. attorney and gay rights advocate Darrin Glymph, who announced this week that he and a committee of local activists will host a fundraiser for Pannell on July 9 at Glymph’s home.
Pannell, who serves as executive director of the Anacostia Coordinating Council, a non-profit group; and Jolly, who teaches at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, provide information about their vision for improving the city’s public schools on their respective campaign websites: