LGBT rights and education advocate Scott Simpson on April 29 announced his candidacy for the Ward 1 seat on the D.C. State Board of Education, saying he wants to put his more than 10 years of experience on education and youth issues to work for the city’s schools.
Simpson’s announcement came six weeks after incumbent Ward 1 school board member Patrick Mara said he would not run for a second term, creating an open seat in the upcoming nonpartisan election scheduled for Nov. 4.
“Ward 1 families deserve a strong advocate on the State Board of Education who’s rooted in the community and understands how education policy choices impact students in the classroom,” Simpson said in a statement.
“Throughout my career and for over a decade in D.C., I’ve been committed to expanding educational opportunities for all students,” he said. “I’m ready to put those skills to work on behalf of Ward 1 families on the State Board of Education.”
A biography released by Simpson’s campaign says he began his career in D.C. working with students involved with the local LGBT youth advocacy group SMYAL. He served as a full-time volunteer with SMYAL through the Washington AIDS Partnership’s AmeriCorps program, his biography says.
Simpson currently serves as press secretary for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s largest civil rights coalition. Among other things, Simpson assists the organization in advocating for “a range of education policies that improve the lives of students across the country,” his biographical write-up says.
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, has personally endorsed Simpson for the school board seat, saying Simpson has “proven to have the substance, skills and vision to help our schools meet their challenge of providing a quality education to every student.”
Beverly Wheeler, former executive director of the State Board of Education and a longtime Ward 1 civic activist, is serving as chair of Simpson’s campaign committee. Others who have endorsed Simpson include David Mariner, executive director of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community; and Todd Peterson, former SMYAL Board chair.
Former Ward 1 school board member Dotti Love Wade, who was defeated by Mara in the 2010 election, has said she is interested in running again for the seat this year, according to Simpson. Wade couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Gay University of Maryland teaching assistant and former D.C. government employee David Do told the Blade he plans to enter the race for the Ward 1 school board seat on June 14, opening the way for two openly gay candidates to compete with one another for the seat.
If Simpson or Do were to win the election they would become the second openly gay member of the State Board of Education. Gay education advocate Jack Jacobson won election to the board’s Ward 2 seat in 2012.
In March, veteran gay rights and Ward 8 civic activist Phil Pannell announced his candidacy for the Ward 8 seat on the Board of Education.