Saturday, September 22, 2012

WATCH: Fred Evans vs. Rebecca Smondrowski - MoCo School Board Debate // PLUS: Blaine Young vs. Frederick Teachers

This November, numerous Maryland voters will elect members of their local school boards. But some of these low-profile races are among the most competitive contests on the ballot. Below Maryland Juice highlights three notable Board of Education battles: Montgomery County, Frederick County & Prince George's County.

BOE BATTLE #1 - VIDEO DEBATE FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION (DISTRICT 2): Last April, Montgomery County voters nominated former principal Fred Evans and local politco Rebecca Smondrowski to run for the lone District 2 school board spot this November. Candidates from throughout Montgomery County can vote in this race. Fred Evans has the backing of the teachers union (MCEA), while Rebecca Smondrowski has the backing of The Washington Post and two other unions in Montgomery County: MCGEO and SEIU Local 500. Below you can watch Fred Evans and Rebecca Smondrowski debate on MoCo cable's "Political Pulse" show:

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BOE BATTLE #2 - CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS FROM FREDERICK COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION RACE: This November, Frederick County voters will vote to fill a portion of their Board of Education seats. The race is highlighting numerous ideological battles, as Frederick Tea Party leader Blaine Young is trying to wrest control of the school board. He needs one more vote on the school board to unleash his agenda. Last May, Gazette columnist Joe Volz gave a quick background on Young's attempts to gain control the Frederick County school board:
JOE VOLZ: The all-Republican Board of County Commissioners, led by [Tea Partier Blaine Young], has jumped in and actually campaigned for [Frederick County Board of Education] members.... the [Board of County Commissioners] has to squash dissent by picking up a fourth member of the school board for a majority....
But the race has gained a new dimension as one of the candidates has dropped out of the race citing health reasons. The Gazette recently reported that school board candidate Tom Shade has withdrawn his candidacy (excerpt below):
GAZETTE: Tom Shade, one of the front-runners in the nonpartisan race for Frederick County Board of Education, announced Tuesday that he is withdrawing his candidacy.

Shade, who finished second among 12 school board candidates in the April 3 primary election, said he was dropping out because of medical reasons....
Voters will now choose three school board members from a pool of five candidates. But an anonymous source who tipped us off to Tom Shade's exit from the race made the following comment about how this alters the dynamics this November:
ANONYMOUS READER: [Tom Shade's exit] is going to make things more interesting as it's now 5 vying for 3 seats: 2 that the BOCC had endorsed and 3 that the Teachers' Union has endorsed. Blaine Young has stated that they only need *1* to be able to push his agenda through.
It is indeed worth noting that Tom Shade was one of four teachers union-backed candidates in the race. This means that in order to keep Blaine Young from controlling the Frederick Board of Education, all three teacher-backed candidates in the race would need to win: Zakir Bengali, Kathryn Groth and Joy Schaefer. Below we provide a quick list of the candidates in the Frederick Board of Education race. We also note which candidates are backed by Blaine Young, and which ones are backed by the teachers:
  1. Zakir Bengali - Teachers
  2. Tony Chmelik - Blaine Young
  3. Colleen Cusimano - Blaine Young
  4. Kathryn Groth (incumbent) - Teachers
  5. Joy Schaefer - Teachers
 * Tom Shade (withdrawn) - Teachers

BOE BATTLE #3 - THREE STUDENTS SEEK PRINCE GEORGE'S SCHOOL BOARD SEATS: Lastly, Maryland Juice continues to keep tabs on the wild race for the Prince George's County Board of Education. We previously reported that three students between the ages of 18 and 20 led the vote in their school board primaries last April: Edward Burroughs (age 19), Raaheela Ahmed (age 18) and David Murray (age 20).

From what sources in Prince George's tell Maryland Juice, the three young candidates are campaigning aggressively in their races. We shall soon see whether these upstarts will be able to upend the political establishment.

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