By C.N. Staff Writer
In early March, Ward 8 D.C. State Board of Education member Trayon White, 29, has resigned from the position in order to accept his new job as a supervisor in the Department of Parks and Recreation, working in its “Roving Leaders” program with at-risk youth. White was elected in an April 2011 special election after the passing of former Ward 8 school board member William Lockridge passed suddenly. Elected in a special election the ward now faces another special election to fill White’s vacant seat, which is scheduled to take place July 15th.
School board members are barred from working for the city government under a D.C. law. In a press release White said, “I accepted the position of Supervisor Recreation Specialist with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation knowing it will enhance my work in the community with youth who are among the hardest to reach and most in need. In my quest to fill the void of advocacy left with the sudden and untimely death of Mr. Lockridge, I have diligently fought against school closures, for more resources and programs for Ward 8 schools.” Wanda D. Lockridge, widow of William O. Lockridge and Chairwoman/Executive Director of the William O. Lockridge Community Foundation, said, “I am sorry to see Trayon step down from the DC State Board of Education but am supportive and understanding of his decision.
In 2007 a special election for a Ward 4 seat on the D.C. State Board of Education cost $250,000 and the election only saw one percent turnout. Some may ask why not hold the election in November to coincide with the general election now that the primary has passed. According to the D.C. charter any special election must be held “on the first Tuesday occurring more than one hundred and fourteen days after the date on which such vacancy occurs.” The charter allows the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to make an exemption if the vacancy occurs close to the general election, but that’s in November.
White’s key opponent in the 2011 special election was Philip Pannell, veteran gay rights and civic activist. Pannell lost by fewer than 200 votes. Supporters say his long record of involvement in school and education issues in Ward 8 and is highly qualified to serve on the board. If he were to win in July he would become the second out gay member of the board. Gay civic activist and former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Jack Jacobson won election to the Ward 2 seat on the school board in 2012.