With Friday’s release of nominating petitions for the Nov. 6 general election, the summer political season in D.C. is now open in earnest.
The special election for D.C. Council chairman is high-profile, but thus far devoid of surprises. Phil Mendelson, the four-term at-large Democrat who holds the chairmanship until the special election results are certified, today picked up petitions as promised.
Three others have also done so, with less impressive records of electoral success. Dorothy Douglas, the Ward 7 member of the State Board of Education, won less than 6 percent of the vote in a 2010 bid for the chairmanship and lost the Democratic primary race this year for the Ward 7 council seat with 2.1 percent. John C. Cheeks finished last among those actively campaigning for the Ward 5 council seat in May’s special election, winning 57 votes. Robert L. Matthews, of the Statehood Green party, is a former one-term advisory neighborhood commissioner.
The most interesting moves so far have concerned the State Board of Education — the nonpartisan policymaking body established in 2007 during the mayoral schools takeover.
Ted Trabue, the board’s sole at-large member, is not seeking re-election. In an interview Monday, he cited his new job as managing director of the D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility and his new duties running the Men of St. John’s — a booster club for St. John’s College High School — in his decision to forgo a second term.
Running for the seat instead will be Mary Lord, currently the board’s Ward 2 member, and Marvin Tucker, a Ward 5 parent, coach and education activist.
Tucker, a retired plumber and first-time political candidate, said he’s running to focus on transportation issues and increase parent involvement in schools. He was recently featured in USA Today articles questioning test stores at Noyes Elementary, where his daughter had attended.
Lord — whose decision to eschew the Ward 2 race was noted Saturday at Borderstan — faced a tough race to keep her ward seat against Jack Jacobson, a Dupont Circle advisory neighborhood commissioner whose campaign has already raised nearly $20,000.
But Lord said her decision was more about Trabue’s departure than Jacobson’s challenge.
”I know it probably looks like Mary Lord saw the war chest, and I’m getting the heck out of Dodge, but that’s not the case,” she said.
Lord said she was encouraged by her board colleagues to fill Trabue’s seat and noted that most of the schools in Ward 2 she’s worked closely with cater to students citywide. “I just want to do right by the kids,” she said. “My schools are educating the city’s kids. Why wouldn’t I rise to the challenge of running citywide?”