The top two vote-getters in last week’s primary election for the Board of Education At-Large seat were Julie Reiley and Karla Silvestre. The will face off in the November General Election for the spot on the Board being vacated by Jill Ortman-Fouse. Reiley and Silvestre beat out six other candidates in last Tuesday’s primary and will face each other again in November.
Reiley, a first-time candidate from Bethesda, was the top vote-getter with 37,565 votes, or 32.1 percent. She is an MCPS parent, who has been an education advocate in the County and Annapolis for many years, serving as a co-chair on the Montgomery County Special Education Advisory Committee, a vice-chair and member of the MCCPTA Special Education Committee, and on the board of the Walter Johnson HS PTSA. In the past, Reiley has been awarded the Maryland PTA Lifetime Achievement Award, the MCCPTA Special Education Committee Outstanding Parent Award, and the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
Silvestre, from Silver Spring, garnered 32,956 votes, or 28.1 percent. She has served as the Director of Community Engagement at Montgomery College since 2014 and leads the College’s efforts to be the community’s college through partnerships, engagement centers, outreach, and collaborative problem-solving. She has also served as the Latino liaison for the County Executive in Montgomery County’s Office of Community Partnerships; a post as manager of the county’s Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center; ongoing participation in Montgomery Moving Forward’s leadership group; a position as board member of Montgomery History and Horizons of Greater Washington; a founding member of the Maryland Hispanic Gala; and co-chair of Montgomery County Public Schools’ Latino Student Achievement Action Group.
The third highest vote-getter was John A. Robinson, a former assistant principal at Northwest High School and staff member at Seneca Valley High School. Robinson earned 13,400 votes.
In the other contested Board of Education primary race, incumbent Patricia O’Neill easily defeated two challengers earning 70,480 votes or which is 60.2 percent of the votes to be the top vote-getter the District 3 primary race. O’Neill and second place finisher Lynn Amano will face off in November.
O’Neill is seeking her sixth four-year term on the Board of Education. She was first elected to the Montgomery County Board of Education in 1998. Amano is a former Delegate to the MCCPTA and then PTA President. Amaro and her husband are co-owners of a Frederick-based distillery that makes a Japanese liquor. O’Neill and Amaro defeated challenger Laura Simon in the primary. District 3 includes Potomac, Rockville, and Bethesda.
There will be two other District races on the November ballot, in District 1, which includes most of Germantown, Clarksburg, and Damascus, incumbent Judy Docca will run for her fourth term against challenger Maria Blaeuer. Blaeuer is an attorney working for Advocates for Justice and Education in Washington D.C. She lives in the Gaithersburg area.
Also on the ballot in November is the District 5 election. However, only one candidate is running to replace current BOE president Michael Durso who is not running for re-election from District 5. The lone candidate for the seat is Brenda Wolff, the former Director of the National Institute of Educational Governance, Finance, Policymaking and Management in the US Department of Education. She was also the Program Manager for the National Assessment of Education Progress, as well as a member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.
Regardless of who wins the November elections the eight-member Montgomery County Board of Education will be made up of eight women for the first time the history of the Board, as four of these candidates will join Jeanette Dixon, who is an At-Large member, and Rebecca Smondrowski, the District 2 representative; and Shebra Evans of District 4 all of whom were elected in 2016. The Student Member of the Board is Ananya Tadikona, a senior at Richard Montgomery High School.
File Photos by Germantown Pulse.