Board of Education Candidates Vie for Three Seats in Tight Race
Find out about the six candidates running for seats on the Howard County Board of Education
On Monday, Patch spoke with candidates for Board of Education, perhaps the tightest race in Tuesday's election in Howard County . The six candidates are hoping to be one of three candidates who win seats. Voters select three candidates on the ballot.
Here's more on each candidate, listed in alphabetical order:
Ballinger, of Ellicott City, said on Monday he was spending the last few hours before Tuesday’s election with good friends and making sure his signs are at the polls.
During his campaign, Ballinger has focused on fiscal responsibility in the school system, championing early childhood education, and allowing open enrollment, in which parents would be able to send their kids to the school of their choice.
Ballinger, who is a congressional staffer for Joe Pitts, a Republican from Pennsylvania, previously lost in county school board general elections in 2004 and 2010.
“I think I have a chance for a third seat,” said Ballinger. “A lot of independents will think of me as someone in the middle, who isn’t an incumbent, who has talked about changes.”
Website - http://www.bobballinger.net/
Ann De Lacy
De Lacy, of Columbia, said Monday she wants people to be aware of the issues she believes need to be fixed. She said that as a member of the school board she would ask that all departments and programs be audited to figure out how well the budget is working.
“We’ve been throwing pasta against the wall to see if it sticks,” said De Lacy about what she characterized as lack of transparency in the schools’ budget.
De Lacy served as president of the Howard County Education Association from 2005 to 2011, and before that as a teacher for 33 years, spending 25 of those years at Owen Brown Middle School, according to her website.
She said other issues important to her include changing the redistricting process to include more stakeholders, correcting pockets of poverty in certain schools and stopping what she called a teach to the test mentality that has come with Race to the Top programs.
“I think the majority of people who know me—parents, students and educators—will say I’ve had a positive impact on their lives,” said De Lacy. “I think I have as great a chance as anyone else.”
Website - http://anndelacy4boe.com/
Gertler said on Monday the campaign has been a “wonderful experience” and to pay back his hardworking volunteers he was hosting them for a dinner.
“It’s my way of having a party,” said Gertler, “even if I don’t get elected.”
Gertler, of Ellicott City, has based his campaign largely on his career experience in technology. Currently, he works as a technology executive and also serves as an adjunct math professor at Towson University. He said his technology experience gives him an important perspective on a board that will have to implement new technology in schools.
“I have expertise with the challenges we face for our school system—the future of education and how technology is going to change that,” said Gertler. He also said he would work to make redistricting more inclusive and raise awareness of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers as a member of the board.
Website - http://votegertler.com/
Ellen Flynn Giles
Giles, of Scaggsville, is an incumbent who has served on the board for six years, including as chairman and vice chairman. She has been a volunteer in Howard County Public Schools for over two decades, according to her website, including an eight-year tenure as chairman of the Community Advisor Council to the Board of Education.
Giles is the mother of four children and has served on PTAs at their schools. She works as an editor and analyst for McGraw-Hill.
She said during a League of Women Voters video interview that the most important issues to her are ensuring that the students who leave the school system are prepared; that the playing field among students is leveled and that access to resources and programs within the system improves.
“As a Board member, I promise to continue to listen, do my homework, ask tough questions, and work with integrity in the best interests of our children,” wrote Giles on her website.
Giles did not respond to interview requests for this article on Monday.
Website - http://efg4boe.com/
Scott, of Columbia, said she has been humbled by the wide range of endorsements she has received, from organizations such as the Howard County Education Association and Howard County Times, County Executive Ken Ulman and local community bloggers.
“People find an authenticity in me,” said Scott. “That has really made me feel great.”
Scott, who works as an adjunct Georgetown professor of health and policy law, said the most important issues to her in this race are making the school system fully accountable at all levels, focusing on what’s in the best interest for students and providing opportunities to kids across the spectrum.
She said people should vote for her if they want someone who is prepared educationally, who has dedicated their career to children and families, and who knows the system as a parent.
“I hope that people are able to see me from a general perspective,” said Scott. "Not to be perfect, not to have all the answers, but to really work hard.”
Website - http://www.jackiescottforboe.com/
Siddiqui is an incumbent candidate who has served on the board since 2007. She has previously served as chairman and vice chairman of the board.
On Monday, Siddiqui wrote in an email that she is hopeful of being reelected, but doesn’t take anything for granted.
“As a pediatrician I bring a unique perspective to the board as it relates to children,” wrote Siddiqui. “I understand the needs of the ‘whole child’. I understand the social and cultural aspects of children’s development.”
Siddiqui, who works as a pediatrician for Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, wrote that important issues for her are addressing the achievement gap in schools, expanding technology as a learning tool, expanding world languages, providing resources and career development to teachers, and reviewing the wellness policy to make sure students are career and college ready.
“I have worked very hard this campaign to spread the word about continuing my work on the board,” wrote Siddiqui.
Website - http://www.janetsiddiqui.com/