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Teacher Tierra Jolly triumphed over rival Philip Pannell in a low-turnout vote today for the special election for the Ward 8 State Board of Education seat, according to preliminary results from the D.C. Board of Elections.

Longtime activist Pannell had the weight of much of the ward’s establishment behind him, including a late-breaking endorsement from Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry. Still, Jolly managed to win 49 percent of the vote, while Pannell received 42 percent.

Earlier in the day, Pannell complained that the little-known race had less excitement than a monastery. Indeed, just 2.6 percent of Ward 8 voters—1,433 people—turned out to vote. The special election will cost around $300,000, according to the DCBOE.

At her election party, Jolly described herself as “overwhelmed” by her win in what she describes as a position focused on community organizing.

Pannell, who had worried earlier about the effects of a national group’s pro-Jolly mailers on the race, opted not to blame the mailers for his loss tonight as he headed to his opponent’s victory party.

“She ran a better campaign and got more votes,” Pannell says. “That’s it.”

Photo courtesy of Tierra Jolly