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The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, an organization dedicated to electing LGBT candidates to local, state and national office, is wading into the race for the Ward 1 seat on the D.C. State Board of Education, backing Scott Simpson, a professional civil rights advocate, over David Do, another openly gay man who served as the former director of academic affairs at the University of California, Merced and a volunteer for D.C. Public Schools.
Following Victory Fund’s announcement of their endorsement on Tuesday, Simpson’s campaign immediately took to the Web, posting on various social media and sending out emails to supporters touting the endorsement.
“This endorsement is an acknowledgement of my demonstrated commitment to expanding educational opportunities for all students, both with policymakers and in the community,” Simpson wrote in the email. “It’s also a recognition of our campaign’s strength and the broad support we’ve received from every neighborhood in Ward One – from voters, parents, youth advocates, teacher, and social workers. We’re out there working hard every day because our city needs an advocate on the State Board of Education that understands how to advance policies that will advance equality and access for all students, regardless of their identity or life circumstances.”
The Victory Fund heaped praise on its chosen candidate in a press release.
“Scott Simpson has been a passionate advocate for District schools and understands the challenges they face,” Chuck Wolfe, the president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said in a statement. “He brings the experience and dedication necessary to help the District of Columbia Public Schools deliver a more quality education that the children deserve.”
Do, in a press release, acknowledged the Victory Fund’s decision to back Simpson, but vowed to continue his campaign for the seat, which became open after current incumbent Patrick Mara decided not to run for re-election.
“I will continue to work every day to make sure I connect with Ward 1 residents,” Do said in a statement. “The voters, not any individual endorsement, will decide who will fight for Ward 1 schools. I am confident that I will be selected to represent Ward 1 on the Board of Education on November 4.”
Regardless, Simpson and Do may face an uphill battle come November. Only one out LGBT person, current State Board of Education member for Ward 2 Jack Jacobson – who is personally backing Simpson – has ever been elected to the State Board of Education. Longtime LGBT and Democratic activist Philip Pannell ran in a July 15 special election for the open Ward 8 seat, but fell short, garnering 42 percent of the vote against teacher and education advocate Tierra Jolly, who won with 49 percent of the vote.
Simpson and Do face three other candidates in the Ward 1 race: E. Gail Anderson Holness, a minister and longtime community activist who has been active in local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions; Lilian Perdomo, a community activist who worked for former Councilmember Sekou Biddle; and Laura Wilson Phelan, a former Teach for America participant who also served as Vice President of Teach for All and a senior advisor for Teach for America prior to her current work at the Flamboyan Foundation, a private foundation that describes its mission as “improv[ing] educational outcomes for children in public and public charter schools” in the District and Puerto Rico.