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To kick off her campaign for the school-board presidency, Carolyn N. Graham had the perfect setup.

For her June 14 announcement, the current board vice president and ordained minister picked a venue with a killer view: McKinley Technology High School. She illustrated her campaign motto, “Together We Can,” by traveling around town and greeting parents as they scooped their children up on what was the last day of school.

Graham, a former D.C. deputy mayor for children, youth, families and elders, even had a chance to top off her big political show by running a scheduled board meeting the day of her announcement. The current president, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, after all, wouldn’t be around. She’s attending that serious overseas education policy conference called the FIFA World Cup.

But when the 3 p.m. meeting time rolled around last Wednesday, Graham was missing. She was out pressing the flesh while the board she hopes to lead conducted business, leaving the gavel to Secretary Victor Reinoso.

“That was the last day of school. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be around children,” she says. “I wanted to launch before school was out.”

In other words, had Graham rushed back to the boardroom to chair the meeting, those photo ops with the kids would have had to wait until the fall. “I’m committed to changing the conversation. I wanted parents to know that before children went off in the various sundry directions for the summer,” she says.

The candidate claims she was intimately involved in discussions with board members about the main item on the June 14 agenda, a proposed partnership between the KIPP public charter school and Montgomery Elementary in Ward 2. The plan was approved 5-1.

Graham calls her no-show an aberration. “Look at my record,” she says. “I am rarely absent from board meetings.”

Photograph by Darrow Montgomery