August 24, 2020 at 9:33 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Two gay candidates enter race for D.C. school board
D.C. School Board, gay news, Washington Blade, D.C. State Board of Education
From left, Mysiki Valentine and Allister Chang are both openly gay candidates for D.C. school board. (Photos via Twitter)

The number of out LGBTQ candidates running in D.C.’s Nov. 3 general election for public office other than Advisory Neighborhood Commission positions rose from two to four since July 31 when two gay men entered the race for seats on the nonpartisan, nine-member elected D.C. State Board of Education.

Mysiki Valentine, whose campaign website says he has taught and mentored students and teachers for over a decade, is one of six candidates running for the sole at-large seat on the Board of Education. According to his website, he “aspires to be a positive role model and advocate for D.C.’s youth – especially young black and gay men.”

Allister Chang, an education advocate who recently completed projects as a Visiting Researcher at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Institute for Lifelong Learning, is one of six candidates running for the Ward 2 seat on the Board of Education. He is running to replace gay Ward 2 incumbent school board member Jack Jacobson, who chose not to run for re-election.

Chang said that among other things, he is “committed to working on improving how schools provide mental health resources and services for all students, and to ensure that school mental health professionals are properly prepared on working with LGBTQ youth.”

Jacobson will leave office in January after serving two four-year terms as the Ward 2 school board member. He served two years as president of the board. He told the Blade he decided to take a break after eight years of service on the board and a five-year tenure before that as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner.

“I felt it was a good time to retire from public office for the moment,” he said. “I’ve been incredibly honored to serve District residents and I look forward to continue to be an advocate for children in the District.”

Last month out gay Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Alexander Padro announced his candidacy as an independent for one of two at-large seats on the D.C. Council up for election this year. Padro is one of 25 candidates running for the two at-large seats. Under D.C. election law, a Democrat can only hold one of the two seats.

Padro is among 21 independent candidates running for the so-called non-Democratic seat. Incumbent Democratic Council member Robert White is considered the strong favorite to win re-election to the seat for which a Democrat, independent, and any other party member is eligible to hold.

Gay Ward 2 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Randy Downs is among five candidates running for the Ward 2 D.C. Council seat. Downs is also running as an independent. Among his four competitors is Democratic incumbent Brooke Pinto, who won the Democratic primary and a special election to fill the seat until January after longtime incumbent Jack Evans resigned following an ethics investigation.

In upcoming stories on the D.C. election the Blade will cover Advisory Neighborhood Commission races where more than a dozen LGBTQ candidates will be on the November ballot.

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

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