Pannell Will Run for Ward 8 State Board of Education Seat
Ward 8 political activist Philip Pannell said recently that he's a definite contender for his ward's seat on the D.C. State Board of Education. The election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
"I am running because overall Ward 8 collectively can improve education," said Pannell, 61. "You have heard the saying that it takes a 'village to raise a child.' Our village is not engaged."
Pannell ran for the vacant Ward 8 position in the special election that took place on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 due to the death of Board of Education member William Lockridge earlier that year. He finished second to Trayon White in a field of nine candidates.
White, 28, said that he intends to run for re-election.
Nonetheless, Pannell cited an example of low engagement in the ward regarding education. He noted the "appalling low attendance" for the ward's PTA meetings and said that the ward's recent town hall meeting on education that featured D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson had a dismal turnout.
"I noted that on the flyer for the town hall meeting that the chancellor and the Ward 8 D.C. Council member [Marion Barry] were listed as the sponsors but the Ward 8 Board of Education member was not listed as a sponsor," he said. "This is an example of not having people actively engaged. I have a history of involvement of three decades in this city and I can really get people involved."
Pannell has been elected president of the Ward 8 Democrats five times and is a former member of the District of Columbia Library Board of Trustees. He's the president of the Congress Heights Community Association and works as the executive director of the Anacostia Coordinating Council in Southeast.
Over the years, Pannell has served as an adviser – on a formal and informal basis – for candidates vying for various political offices throughout the District. He remains one of the city's most well-known gay activists.
Pannell said that his single status and the fact that he doesn't have children shouldn't be a deterrent for residents who would otherwise vote for him.
"I worked to revive Ballou Senior High School's PTSA which was defunct at one point" he said. "I raised $7,000 for the school and became treasurer of the PTSA for five years. I worked to see that the Anacostia Coordinating Council serves as the fiduciary agent for Ballou's marching band."
Pannell said that "public education affects us all and we as parents, students, teachers, [and] community members need to do what we can to help."
"I will bring the same type of energy and commitment to the State Board of Education that I have brought to the community," he said.
Alexander, Dismissive Regarding Moten
D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), who faces Republican Ron Moten in the Ward 7 D.C. Council member general election on November 6, isn't excited about debating her opponent.
"What debate?" Alexander, 51, said during a Tuesday, July 24 ribbon cutting at the Nannie Helen Burroughs Great Streets Project in Northeast. "Ward 7 is 98 percent Democratic."
However, Moten said he will be glad to take Alexander on.
"She has a past to explain to the voters," said Moten, 42. "In the Democratic primary, she had 5 candidates to go against and the issues never got addressed."
Alexander and Moten have had a tense relationship. A few years ago, in the D.C. Council chambers, Moten criticized Alexander's performance as a legislator during a hearing and the council member responded by walking out of the room and summarily dismissing him with a wave of her hand.
At the grand opening of the Deanwood Recreation Center in Northeast in 2010, Alexander encouraged District residents to support then D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray for mayor. When Moten pointed out that the endorsement at that venue may have been a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits District employees from engaging in politics while participating in city business, she responded with one word: "whatever."
Alexander handily defeated five challengers in the Tuesday, April 3 Democratic primary but polled only 41 percent. Moten easily defeated Don Folden Sr. in the Republican contest with 56 percent of the vote.
Moten said that the heavy Democratic numbers in the ward don't discourage him.
"I am a better candidate than she is," he said. "I would like to have the chance to explain to the people of Ward 7 why they should not have a problem voting for a civil rights Republican. We need a public debate in front of the people, not just on television."
Alexander will stand her ground.
"If there is a debate, let me know," she said. "Bring it on."