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Terence D. Tolbert (1964 - November 2, 2008) was an Americanmarker political operative who was the Nevadamarker state director for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and an aide to Joel Klein, the New York City School Chancellor. Tolbert's death came two days before the 2008 presidential election, and the same day as Obama's grandmother.

Biography

Tolbert was born and raised in Harlemmarker. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Sciencemarker, where he was a classmate of Christopher "Kid" Reid, the rap musician and actor. He later earned a bachelor's degree from Hunter Collegemarker. He had lived in Harlem with his wife, Freida Foster-Tolbert.

In his intense career in politics, Tolbert worked at the New York State Senate Minority Program Office in Albany. He served on the staff of State Senators Martin Connor and Joseph Galiber, and for Representative Charles B. Rangel.

He was the chief of staff to New York State Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright for eight years. In 2003 and 2004, Tolbert was the New York state director for the presidential campaign of John Edwards. Tolbert had taken a leave from his position as chief of staff to Assemblyman Wright, who was in turn supporting John Kerry's presidential bid.

After leaving the Edwards campaign in 2004, Tolbert was the Nevada state director of America Coming Together, a 527 group dedicated to get out the vote efforts, primarily for Democratic candidates. Tolbert served as the liaison to ethnic, religious and cultural groups in the city for Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg in his bid for a second term in the 2005 mayoral election. He had also worked on the campaigns of Senator Chuck Schumer and former Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer.

Tolbert was hired by the New York City Department of Education in 2006, serving as its primary representative in Albany, New Yorkmarker and Washington, D.C.marker lobbying on behalf of Bloomberg's efforts to extend the law due to expire in June 2009 that grants the mayor primary authority over the New York City public schools.

He took a leave of absence from the Department of Education in July to work in Nevada as state director for the Obama campaign, with the Democrats making a strong effort in a state that had traditionally been solidly Republican. Barack Obama took Nevada's five electoral votes, defeating John McCain by a 56%-42% margin, carrying Nevada by 120,000 votes in a state the George W. Bush had won by 20,000 votes in the 2004 election.

On the evening of November 2, 2008, in North Las Vegas, Nevadamarker, Tolbert suffered a heart attack while driving alone near the Obama campaign offices. He was taken to North Vista Hospital and died there, aged 44.

Legacy

In a press release, Mayor Bloomberg described Tolbert as one of the most likeable and hardworking people in the world and "a valued member of our administration" who "had become a personal friend". Schools Chancellor eulogized Tolbert as someone "who believed deeply that government can and must play a constructive role in improving the lives of its citizens" in his role as Executive Director of Inter-Governmental Relations. A statement issued by the Obama campaign characterized Tolbert as "a strong force in this campaign, with a positive outlook that brought people together."

Tolbert's funeral was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divinemarker.

Tolbert's middle school in Harlemmarker was named after him in November 2008, as a memorial.

References

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