D.C. school board member John E. Warren (Ward 6) maintained a slim but conclusive lead over challenger Loraine Bennett in the only closely contested race of the Nov. 6 school board elections, according to final tabulations released yesterday.
With absentee and challenged ballots counted, Warren expanded his lead over Bennett to 89, for a final total of 1,954 votes to Bennett's 1,865. l
The 123 absentee and challenged ballots cast in the ward -- more than the 79 votes separating the two contestants after the preliminary count Nov 6 -- had kept the election in doubt until yesterday's final count.
The final results, which added an additional 846 votes to the citywide total, did not affect the outcome of any of the other five school board races, including the one at-large contest, won handily by incumbent Eugene Kinlow.
The Warren victory in Ward 6 was politically significant since his challenger was one of six candidates in various races backed by Mayor Marion Barry in a bid by the mayor for more influence on the 11-member school board.
Four of the six Barry-backed candidates won seats on the board, but Bennett in Ward 6 and Matthew F. Shannon, who challenged incumbent Bettie G. Benjamin in Ward 5, ended up losing.
Bennett's defeat in Ward 6 came despite her endorsement not only by Barry but by three other leading city Democrats living in the ward -- at-large City Council members John Ray and Betty Ann Kane and Nadine P. Winter, the ward's representative on the City Council.
Ray, who attributed part of the loss to a failure by the four politicians to campaign actively for Bennett early in the election, also said that race appeared to be a factor. Bennett is white. Warren is black.
Of 16 precincts in the ward, Bennett won only five, all of which are in the close-in areas of Capitol Hill where the white population is largest, according to last week's returns. Warren won the other 11 precincts, all of which are nearly all-black. He piled up his highest margins in the five precincts east of the Anacostia River.
"Unfortunately, there was somewhat of the racial thing there, and that hurt a bit. That probably made the difference," Ray said. "When you look at the precincts, clearly in the black precincts they voted very heavily for John Warren."
Race was not raised as an issue in the campaign. Bennett, a former PTA president, focused on Warren's behavior on the board, calling him an embarrassment. Barry and Ray termed the board and its incumbents ineffective.
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics said a total of 35,425 persons voted in the Nov. 6 electin -- 14.7 percent of the 241,711 registered voters in the city. Here is a listing of the final results: At Large (TABLE) 02,00,08 Eugene Kinlow(COLUMN)11,147 Jeanette Feely(COLUMN)8,660 Charlotte R. Holmes(COLUMN)5,047 Stuart Rosenblatt(COLUMN)3,121 Joseph Webb(COLUMN)2,089(END TABLE) Ward 1 (TABLE) 02,00,07 Frank Smith Jr.(COLUMN)1,840 Conrad P. Smith(COLUMN)1,018 James W. Curry(COLUMN)353 Anwar S. Saleem(COLUMN)237 R. H. Booker(COLUMN)146(END TABLE) Ward 4 (TABLE) 02,00,07 Linda W. Cropp(COLUMN)2,871 Vickie Street(COLUMN)2,084 Phil Pannell(COLUMN)684 Laplois Ashford(COLUMN)608(END TABLE) Ward 5 (TABLE) 02,00,07 Bettie G. Benjamin(COLUMN)3,368 Matthew F. Shannon(COLUMN)2,368(END TABLE) Ward 6 (TABLE) 02,00,07 John E. Warren(COLUMN)1,954 Loraine Bennett(COLUMN)1,865 Linda J. Gilbert(COLUMN)332(END TABLE) Ward 7 (TABLE) 02,00,07 Nathaniel Bush(COLUMN)2,180 Emily Y. Washington(COLUMN)1,804 Ed Hancock(COLUMN)833 America C. Nelson(COLUMN)308(END TABLE)