D.C. Board of Education President David Eaton said yesterday he will ask school board members to try once again to name a new board member for Ward 1, in the wake of growing unhappiness among ward residents.
Ward 1, the inner-city ward that includes Adams-Morgan and Mount Pleasant, has not had representation by its own board member since December, when Frank Smith Jr. left the post to assume his seat on the D.C. City Council. A two-month campaign by 11 applicants for the seat finally ended last February with board members unable to agree on a successor.
The board asked for a special election to fill the seat until the November elections, when a representative would be chosen for a full new term. The council denied that request in late February.
Board President David Eaton was elected by the board to act in a dual role and represent the ward, but a number of Ward 1 residents have expressed dissatisfaction with that arrangement, including some who still would like to see a special election.
Anwar Saleem, chairman of the Ward One Democrats, said several precinct captains voted Wednesday night to take legal action to force the board to make an appointment if the seat is not filled in the next three weeks. Saleem said that vote was prompted in part by the fact that some residents believe they have not gotten enough board help in fighting the proposed opening of a liquor store near Ward One's Cleveland Elementary School.
"We are unrepresented," said Lawrence Guyot, a member of the Ward One Democrats. "We have shown restraint up until this point, but this has gone on long enough."
Astor Moore, coordinator of the Ward One Council, a group of residents who are interested in education issues, said the council will vote Monday night on whether they should pressure the board to make an appointment. "The appointment is a burning question with our members," said Moore. "We are not satisfied."
Nancy Herring, chairman of the Ward One Council on Education, which is not affiliated with Moore's group, said there is no negative sentiment against Eaton, but added: "He can't be too effective in both positions. He can't lead the board and represent us, too."
Eaton yesterday said that his decision to try again for appointment of a Ward 1 member was not in response to the threat of legal action. "This movement is happening because the City Council has denied our petition for a special election," he said.