Twenty-five candidates, including five incumbents, seven former candidates and several associates of Mayor Marion Barry, have filed petitions for six seats on the District of Columbia school board in the Nov. 8 election.
Although Barry has not made any public endorsements, his press secretary, Florence Tate, said yesterday that "some of his major political supporters in different parts of the city have encouraged some good people to run."
Only one incumbent, at-large member Eugene C. Kinlow, is among the "good people" Tate mentioned.
The mayor also reportedly is backing one of his special assistants, Matthew F. Shannon, who is running against incumbent Bettie G. Benjamin in Ward 5 (Northeast Washington).
Linda Cropp, a teacher who is the wife of Barry's executive assistant, Dwight Cropp, is running in Ward 4 (upper Northeast and Northwest east of Rock Creek Park), reportedly with the mayor's support. The incumbent seeking reelection in that ward is Victoria Street.
When the deadline passed at 5 p.m. yesterday, the only incumbent not to file for reelection was board President Minnie S. Woodson, who represents Ward 7 (Northeast and Southeast, east of the Anacostia River). She said she had been planning to leave the board for several years, but was sharply critical of Barry's interest in the school board race.
Woodson said she feared the mayor's involvement would turn the school board into a "partisan political operation."
But Tate said Barry was "interested in the quality of the schools in this city.
"He hopes the upcoming board will be concerned preeminently with the welfare of the District's young people," she said. "He also hopes that the upcoming election will result in a board which will conduct its business in a non-fractious manner."
The largest group of candidates -- six -- has filed in Ward 1 (Cardozo-inner city).
Among those challenging incumbent Conrad P. Smith, a former board president, is Frank Smith Jr., who finished second in last year's race for the ward's seat on the City Council. Frank Smith reportedly is backed by prominent Barry supporters in the ward.
Other candidates in Ward 1 are James W. Curry, a contractor who twice ran unsuccessfully for the school board in 1974 and 1975; Pierce McDonnell, R. H. Booker and Anwar S. Saleem.
In the at-large race, the candidates challenging Kinlow, an administrator in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, are:
Jeannette Feely, a high school English teacher who has been active in the Washington Teachers Union.
Charlotte Holmes, a budget analyst for the Small Business Administration.
Stuart Rosenblatt, an activist in the U.S. Labor Party.
Joseph Webb, assistant director of the Franklin Adult Education Center and president of the University of the District of Columbia Alumni Association.
Holmes and Webb lost to Kinlow in a special election for the at-large seat last May. Rosenblatt lost a bid for the school board in 1977.
This fall all seats on the ballot are for four-year terms. The winners will be the first school board members to receive annual salaries of $17,500, up sharply from the $4,000 in annual expenses that members now receive.
Besides Street and Cropp, the candidates in Ward 4 are Phillip E. Pannell, a former president of the D.C. Young Democrats who ran unsuccessfully for the board in 1977, and Laplois Ashford, director of Southeast Neighborhood House in Anacostia. Ashford served as campaign manager two years ago for Ward 8 board member R. Calvin Lockridge.
The Ward 4 incumbent, Bettie Benjamin, has served on the board since 1974 and supported former school superintendent Barbara Sizemore. Her opponent Shannon, besides being a special assistant to Mayor Barry for labor and religious affairs, served several months as acting director of the D.C. Labor Department.
The third candidate in the Ward 4 race is Virgil Thompson, a former member of the University of the District of Columbia Board of Trustees, who ran unsuccessfully for the City Council from the ward last year.
In Ward 6, incumbent John E. Warren has emerged as a sharp critic of Mayor Barry's efforts to pare school board spending requests. Loraine Bennett, a former president of the Edmonds-Peabody School PTA, reportedly is backed by the mayor's supporters. The third candidate in the race is Linda J. Gilbert.
In Ward 7, the seat being vacated by Woodson, Barry reportedly is backing Nathaniel Bush, a Treasury Department lawyer. Edward L. Hancock, an ally of the ward's Council member, Willie Hardy, is seeking to reclaim the seat he held in the early 1970s.
The two other candidates who filed yesterday are Emily Washington, a teacher at Ballou Senior High, and America C. Nelson, who retired as a D.C. elementary schoolteacher two years ago.