Gizelle Stokes, a candidate for the Buffalo Board of Education, has been released without bail and ordered to appear April 3 before a Buffalo City Court judge after transit police arrested her Tuesday.
The school social worker was traveling north on Michigan Avenue when she ran a stop sign at Glenwood Avenue, according to spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
When police pulled her over, a check revealed that a bench warrant had been issued against her on a minor harassment violation from 2010.
Police also searched her vehicle and said they found a small packet of marijuana.
“My client had no idea the charges were even pending and had no idea, much less, that there was a warrant out for her arrest,” defense attorney Frank Housh said, adding that if she’d known, she “obviously” would have resolved the matter before running for elected office.
“My client does not use marijuana, does not possess marijuana,” Housh added. “She was unaware there was anything like that in her vehicle, if there was anything like that.”
Aside from the traffic violation, outstanding warrant and marijuana charge, Stokes also was charged with obstruction of justice. Stokes vehemently denies that she made any attempt to resist arrest, her lawyer said, given that she was confronted by five armed officers.
Stokes will continue to campaign for a seat on the board.
Housh said he found it “unusual” that the arresting officer informed her that he knew she was running for a School Board seat and that as a result of a minor traffic stop, he searched her car and hunted for outstanding warrants against her.
Stokes, 31, is one of 12 candidates running for three at-large seats on the Buffalo School Board in the May 6 election. She is a founding social worker and school counselor at Buffalo’s King Center Charter School.