Voting Guide: Board of Ed Candidates District 2

Head to the polls to vote for at-large candidates along with representatives for District 2.


Across the nation votes may be focusing on the Republican presidential primary, but Montgomery County residents can focus on the education of their children by casting a vote for their school board representatives. This year, one of the at-large seats and seats in Districts 2 and 4 are up for grabs.

The District 4 seat will be decided in November, with Christopher Barclay and Annita Seckinger vying for the position.

Seven residents serve on the Board of Education at all times—two at-large members and five members representing geographical districts. Members are elected to four-year terms.

With a population of over 207,000, District 2 serves the Winston Churchill and Richard Montgomery clusters, along with parts of Northwest, , and Rockville clusters.

Five residents are competing for the District 2 seat:

Saqib Ali – A former Maryland State Delegate representing Germantown, Gaithersburg and North Potomac, Saqib announced his candidacy for the Board of Education on Jan. 27, 2012. His priorities, according to his website, include: 

  1. Working to mitigate the impact of impending funding cuts that are a very real possibility.
  2. Working to reduce the achievement gap that separates black and Latino students from white and Asian students.
  3. Increasing the opportunities for all students throughout MCPS to study and excel in science and engineering courses so they are prepared for a high-tech economy in which they will be competing with students from China, India and all parts of the world.

Susan Byrne – A parent of two MCPS students, Byrne brings experience as a parent along with her 10 years of experience working with special needs populations and public school systems. She has also worked for 30 years in various analytical, communication and policy roles. Byrne, according to her website, will work to do the following if elected:

  1. Bust the "number one myth of education"
  2. Focus on student benefits over budget battles.
  3. Work to deliver cost-effective programs.
  4. Provide the schools our kids "deserve."

Jeanne Ellinport – Ellinport cites experience as a “working mother, tough but thoughtful businesswoman, experienced nonprofit leader, involved neighbor and concerned taxpayer” as roles that have prepared her for a Board of Education campaign. Among her priorities, according to her website, are:

  • Making college and career readiness a reality for all students
  • Improving student achievement
  • Bringing creativity and imagination back into the classroom

Fred Evans – Evans is a 30-year veteran of Montgomery County Public Schools, serving as a social studies teacher, staff training specialist, assistant principal and principal at the middle school and high school levels. He currently is a professor of educational leadership at George Mason University. Evans three main priorities, according to his website, are:

  1. Closing the achievement gap among student racial, ethnic, language and income groups.
  2. Improving relationships between the Board Education, the Montgomery County Council, Maryland State Legislature and federal representatives to obtain the appropriate financial resources to attract employees to schools, as well as businesses to a strong public education system.
  3. Encouraging the board to initiate a careful analysis and action plan on what works and what needs to be changed in the Montgomery County school system.

Rebecca Smondrowski – Smondrowski, a parent of two current school-aged children, has served on local and county level PTAs. She has worked professionally in the local and state government, most recently as the legislative aide to Senator Roger Manno. Her endorsements include The Washington Post and the Parents Coalition Chair Suzanne Weiss, amongst others.


Editor's Note: An earlier version of this post misidentified Rebecca Smondrowski's Parents Coalition endorsement. We regret the error.

Sean R. Sedam April 02, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Thanks for the catch Theresa. Rebecca Smondrowski's website includes an endorsement from "Suzanne Weiss/Parents Coaltion Chair and List Co-Owner": http://rsforboe.x10.mx/HTML_Files/endorsements.html It looks like individual members of the Parents Coalition have endorsed particular candidates and posted their endorsements on the group's blog: http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com But it doesn't appear that the group as a whole has endorsed candidates.
Janis April 02, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Thank you for coverage of the BOE election! Readers, please vote in the April 3rd Primary Election for Board of Education! Remember that the Board of Education spends over half of the County tax dollars - over $2 BILLION DOLLARS a year! That's a lot of money!
Janis April 02, 2012 at 08:17 PM
The Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD blog authors contacted all of the candidates running in the Board of Education Primary race. There was only ONE candidate that NEVER responded to our request for information, and that was Ms. Smondrowski. Based on responsiveness and on answers to questions that we posed to the candidates, I suggest citizens vote for Susan Byrne & Morris Panner in the Primary. Interested citizens can read the questionnaire and answers at this link: http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2012/03/questions-for-board-of-education.html Bob and Lyda Astrove have endorsed Saqib Ali and you can read that endorsement on his website. Fred Stitchnoth has made endorsements based on his interests: http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2012/04/stichnoth-picks-susan-byrne-and-aryeh.html Citizens can find video of the Civic Federation BOE Candidates forum and more at this link: http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/p/board-of-education-election-2012.html Regarding the above comment, Ms. Weiss is the owner of a Yahoo group (listserv) and speaks only for herself. She has no affiliation with the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD blog.
Theresa Defino April 02, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Thank you for clarifying this, Janis. That was my understanding too, about Ms. Weiss and her lack of affiliation to the blog that is linked in the article. Most people don't know that although the BOE members must live in a certain district, voting is countywide. Meaning you don't have to live in District 2 to vote for those who are running, and you can vote in the at large race also. So no matter where you live, if you go the polls you will see District 2 and at-large on your ballot and can make your selection.
Sean R. Sedam April 02, 2012 at 08:55 PM
An important clarification. Thanks for this Janis.


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