The D.C. Board of Education put off until next week its effort to fill the vacated Ward 1 board seat after eight ballots last night failed to produce a majority vote for one of the 11 applicants.
The seat, previously held by newly elected City Council Member Frank Smith, is to be filled by a majority vote of the 10 sitting members of the board. Two candidates, Edna Frazier-Cromwell, chairman of the 14th and U Streets Coalition, and Manuel Lopez, a manager of vocational-technical programs for the Navy, each received five votes on different ballots last night, one short of a majority.
Two others, Douglas G. Glasgow, a former Howard University dean, and Ama R. Saran, a school system researcher, each won four votes, also on separate ballots.
The balloting proceeded in a fashion that many in the overflow audience found confusing, and some booed when the board called a second recess in the midst of the voting.
Each board member was allowed to cast as many as 11 votes on each ballot--one for each candidate--and the first contender to win six on any ballot would have been declared the winner.
On the first ballot, for example, Board President David Eaton voted for candidates Glasgow, Frazier-Cromwell, James R. Forman, and Jonas Milton.
"This whole procedure is terrible, it's a mockery of democracy," complained Forman, an author of civil rights books.
Lopez got five votes on the first and third ballots, but won support from only Eugene Kinlow (At-Large) and Wanda Washburn (Ward 3) on the last ballot. Frazier-Cromwell received votes from Eaton, Kinlow, Bettie Benjamin (Ward 5), Linda Cropp (Ward 4), R. David Hall (Ward 2), and John Warren (Ward 6) during the night, but never all six on the same ballot.
Some board members, including R. Calvin Lockridge (Ward 8), said the board should ask the City Council to conduct a special election as was done in 1979 when Kinlow was elected to replace Betty Ann Kane.
"They weren't able to deliver the mayor's candidate," said Lockridge, referring to the support given Frazier-Cromwell by Mayor Marion Barry. "I think we should hold a special election."
Citing the fact that board members had begun to change their votes, Nathaniel Bush (Ward 7), board vice president, said he was opposed to the week-long suspension of balloting and that he favored the selection process over a special election.
"We should have stayed on tonight and taken as many votes as necessary, but calling a recess is the next best thing," said Bush.
Some observers have called the selection process a test of board president Eaton's ability to establish unity on the board. Eaton said last night that he "fully supported" the motion to recess, adding that "we have wrestled and there is genuine disagreement as to who should receive this appointment."
"I'm not disappointed at all," he asserted. "I'm not the type of leader who tries to force somebody to do something I want them to do."
The board recessed on a motion from Benjamin and will resume voting at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 23. One of the 11 candidates, Ilia Bullock, had withdrawn from the competition, but formal notice had not been received by the board by last night and she was counted among the candidates.