In Prince George’s County, District 3 incumbent Pamela Boozer-Strother had a significant lead over her challenger, Varinia Sandino, according to early results.
Also in Prince George’s, District 6 candidate Branndon D. Jackson was ahead of his opponent, Ashley Kearney. The seat has been vacant since March, when Belinda Queen left the school board to run for the county council. In the District 9 race in Prince George’s County, Lolita E. Walker edged out her opponent, Kent Roberson. A latecomer in the race, Jonathan Briggs, was leading the competition for District 2, although he only campaigned actively for about two months after the incumbent – Joshua Thomas – pulled out of the race in august.
Briggs’ main issues included student mental health issues and school infrastructure. He credited his lead to volunteers who helped him knock on doors and connect with voters on the Condensed Timeline. “I’m not claiming anything at this time,” Briggs, 35, said late Tuesday night, “but I appreciate the shout out and can’t wait to hopefully say I’ve won this.”
Further north in Frederick County, incumbent Karen Yoho was among the leaders of seven candidates in a tight race for four seats. Voters there were deciding whether to elect candidates from an education, not indoctrination list, a group of three candidates who ran on platforms promising greater parental oversight of education and more emphasis on academics, and four other candidates, including Yoho, endorsed by the county. teachers’ union.
The Education Not Indoctrination slate spoke out against a statewide health education framework when it was adopted by the Frederick County School Board, arguing the framework was inappropriate for young children and that the school system needed to focus more on core subjects, such as math and reading.
Just before midnight, ENI roster members Nancy Allen and Cindy Rose, along with teacher-approved Yoho and Rae Gallagher, led the pack in the race, which had changed leads several times throughout the night.
Tuesday’s election comes as school districts across Maryland embark on efforts to restore learning after nearly two years of interrupted learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fighting and other violent incidents have also increased in schools since students began to learn in person again, and several school districts reported continued staffing shortages. School boards are also facing more challenges from parents and other groups demanding more say in what students learn on issues ranging from race to gender identity.
In addition to these challenges, school board leaders will be tasked with implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a landmark education bill which funnels billions of funds into public schools over the next decade or so.
On Tuesday, voters who cast their ballots for school board members focused on a variety of issues.
In Montgomery County, voters chose who would occupy District 1, District 3, District 5 and an At-Large seat on the school board of Maryland’s largest school district. Nonprofit owner Grace Rivera-Oven was leading in District 1. Julie Yang edged out incumbent nominee Scott Joftus in the competition for the District 3 seat on Tuesday night — similar to her lead in the primary election. School board incumbents Brenda Wolff (District 5) and Karla Silvestre (At-Large) were also in the lead.
At Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville on Tuesday morning, Eliane Demedeiros chose District 1 candidate Esther Wells, Yang, Wolff and Silvestre as their prime candidates. Demedeiros – who has a junior in high school – said she wanted to select women primarily for civil service positions because they “are more sensitive to many issues”.
“We should have more representatives as women to help enforce equality laws and things that we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis,” Demedeiros, 50, said. She added that she was happy with the school system, but that bullying and school safety were some of her constant concerns as a parent.
Just outside the William Talley Recreation Center in Frederick, Melissa Ward said voting for teachers’ union-endorsed candidates was what drew her to the polls. “I’m very concerned about the future of the school board,” said Ward, 46. She added that the Education Not Indoctrination slate was “a bit marginal”.
Emily Seymour contributed to this report.