15 Jan 2014

Local Politics:

Ward Six Councilmember Candidates: Shelonda Tillman

Shelonda Tillman at home. Photo by María Helena Carey

Shelonda Tillman at home. Photo by María Helena Carey

This is our first post in a series of introductions to Ward 6 candidates. Keep checking The Hill is Home for more coverage of the 2014 election.

Dr. Shelonda Tillman was a warm hostess when we sat down to drink hot cocoa and to speak of why she wants to run for Ward 6 councilmember back in December. Tillman’s roots, although originally from the Carolinas, go back at least 70 years in the DC area. She is a lifetime resident of Capitol Hill, and attended Eastern High School, where she also taught science for four years. She talks about her neighbors as if she knew them all because, as it turns out, she does: her husband, with whom she has four children –Jarell, Geniya, Jaylen and Geraye– was a neighbor before becoming part of her life, living just up the street. While she has businesses in Prince George’s county, MD, such as Tillman Management and Associates and Dazzling Diva Fitness, her life takes place in DC. Her younger children all attend school in the DC public school system– her youngest daughter attends the same school as mine do. Her oldest son is a DC firefighter. Tillman takes a lot of pride in all of this.

A few days before our first meeting, Tillman wrote her impressions about an ANC 6A alcohol licensing board meeting in a blog post she decided to remove shortly after it spurred a flurry of activity on Twitter. I asked her why she decided to remove the post. “I don’t like a lot of negativity,” she countered plainly. She also admitted to being “more of a Facebooker” and was overwhelmed by the notoriety of the post. Overall, Dr. Tillman –who holds an Ed. D. from Argosy University, is not a woman who chooses to dwell on negativity. Even when she suffered a stroke a couple of years back, at age 35, her first instinct was to keep working on her doctorate from her hospital bed. This was also the case when she gave birth to her youngest child while obtaining said degree: give birth in early December and report for class again in early January of the following year. In her own words, she is, “always ready for growth and development.”

Her passion for education began when she started to teach at Eastern High School. Later, she moved on to Hospitality High and then to Prince George’s County. She keeps close relationships with her former students, one of whom babysits for her. This passion also led her to start a business in supplemental education for kids who needed extra tutoring at school.

In terms of her Ward 6 goals, she shares her neighbors’ concerns over the quality of the ward’s middle schools. She would like to see Stuart-Hobson become a great middle school, much like Deal Middle School in Northwest DC. Tillman feels that classrooms lack adequate resources, a fact she experienced firsthand as an educator; she disagrees with closing failing schools and would push for turning them around, unless enrollment is low. She would like to see programs such as Tyler’s Spanish immersion transition to the middle schools, and would place more emphasis on STEM programs in ward 6 schools.

The loss of her seven-year old nephew to a drive-by shooting makes public safety one of her top priorities. In addition, she would like to bring more diverse businesses to the ward and specifically to H Street, which she feels does not offer options for older residents.

If you would like to know more about her, Dr. Tillman is kicking off her campaign tomorrow night, January 16, from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Southwest Library, 900 Wesley Place SW.

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2 responses to “Ward Six Councilmember Candidates: Shelonda Tillman”

  1. JI says:

    Finally a candidate I could consider voting for. I think she has got my vote. JI. Barney Circle.

  2. Linda says:

    This lady was the most embarrassing candidate to run for the Council in the whole city.

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