D.C.

Tierra Jolly, a teacher, wins D.C.'s special election to fill school board vacancy

Tierra Jolly (Photo: Twitter)
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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - With all 17 precincts in DC's Ward 8 reporting, the Board of Elections results show that 31-year-old teacher, Tierra Jolly has won the D.C. School Board seat with 49 % of the vote compared to Ward Activist Phillp Pannell's 42%.

The election may have been the most expensive per-vote election in D.C. history. Fewer than 3 percent of the registered voters in Ward 8 went to the polls. The election cost nearly $300,000 to conduct. That figure divided by the 1433 people who voted works out to roughly $200 dollars paid by taxpayers for every vote cast.

At polling places in D.C. Ward 8's school board special election Tuesday, the poll workers were mostly keeping each other entertained. By noon at the precinct at Ballou High School, 13 people had voted.

The election cost taxpayers nearly $300,000 to fill a $15,000-per-year job. The two candidates are Tierra Jolly and Phillip Pannell.

"My mother always taught me to go out and vote," says Jonathan Steele, one of the few voters.

It's to fill the seat vacated by former school board representative Trayon White who says he feels guilty, but had a new baby and needed more money.

"Yeah, it's kind of my fault. I resigned abruptly," White tells ABC7. "I took a government job and I didn't know I couldn't do both at the same time."

The Board of Elections asked Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry for permission to ignore the special election law and hold the vote instead during the general in November and save $300,000.

"My response was 'no, money should not be a factor with democracy," Barry tells ABC7.

So the two candidates were out there today getting their vote out. Both think it's too expensive.

"I certainly do appreciate their efforts to try and cut costs, but the laws says what the law says," Jolly says.

"Basically, I believe each voter could have been treated to a nice expensive steak dinner with drinks," Pannell says.

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