Categories
County Council Education

Members of MCPS SRO Workgroup Call Process “Incredibly Flawed” in letter to County Council

UPDATE: The Board of Education has asked the SRO Workgroup to reconvene given the concerns raised by 6 members of the workgroup. The Workgroup was tasked with seeking out community input and will reissue their recommendations in May. However, they did not address the composition of the workgroup, which is fundamentally flawed and biased towards the SRO program.

In a letter posted to Moco Against Brutality’s Twitter account, 6 members of the MCPS BOE workgroup to study School Resource Officers state that the workgroup was “flawed and oppressive,” stating that:

“Signed onto this letter are 6 members of the MCPS SRO Workgroup. We wish to bring your attention to the flawed and oppressive nature of the Workgroup, which we believe was not effective in its task of crafting representative, informed, and accurate recommendations and findings regarding the School Resource Officer Program. We found that by the design of the Workgroup, its composition was heavily skewed, our perspectives were actively ignored, and the appropriate data was not considered, leading to the failure of the Workgroup to complete its goal outlined in the June 11th memorandum.”

The workgroup members outlined several issues with the Workgroup, including:

  • only 5 members of the 25 were students of color, 20 were adults most of whom were biased favorably towards SRO programs, and of those 20, 7 were law enforcement officers
  • only pro-SRO articles were reviewed, not empirical evidence or studies that were more critical of SRO programs
  • calls for discussions for alternatives to SRO programs were ignored

Previously, Councilmembers Will Jawando and Hans Riemer introduced legislation that would remove SROs from schools but the other members of the council objected, stating that they would prefer to wait for recommendations from the MCPS Board of Education.

It is incredibly disingenuous of the MCPS BOE to create a Workgroup primarily of individuals that have no stake in the outcomes of the School Resource Officer program, and further outrageous that so many members of law enforcement, who have a vested interest in keeping the SRO program as is. To say that this is disappointing is an understatement. MCPS and the Board of Education has failed, again, students of color.

The individuals signed onto the letter are urging the County Council to not use the recommendations presented to them by the MCPS Workgroup.

See the two-page letter below.

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Categories
Education Elections Montgomery County

Shebra Evans wins re-election to Montgomery County Board of Education District 4 seat

Shebra Evans has won re-election to the Board of Education District 4 seat over challenger Steve Solomon by 80,169 votes. This was the highest margin between two candidates in any of the Board of Education races this year.

NameTotal VotesPercent
Shebra Evans172,82464.64%
Steve Solomon92,65534.66%
Write-ins1,882.70%
Results as of 9:55pm

Congratulations, Shebra!

Categories
Education Elections Montgomery County

Rebecca Smondrowski wins re-election to Montgomery County Board of Education District 2 seat

The race for the District 2 seat in the Montgomery County Board of Education race saw the least amount of total votes across all of the Board of Education races showing that voters weren’t really excited to vote for either candidate. Unofficial vote counts show that Rebecca Smondrowski beat challenger Michael Fryar by 51,799 votes to win re-election to the District 2 seat.

NameTotal VotesPercet
Michael Fryar105,16839.77%
Rebecca K. Smondrowski156,96759.36%
Write-ins2,287.86%
Results as of 9:55pm

Congratulations, Rebecca!

Categories
Education Elections Montgomery County

Lynne Harris wins election to Montgomery County Board of Education At-Large seat

The Montgomery County Board of Education race was one of the most controversial races I’ve ever seen in local politics. Two of the pro-equity candidates moved on from the Primary, Sunil Dasgupta and Lynne Harris. Unofficial vote counts were released by the Montgomery County Board of Elections last night showing that Lynne Harris has won by 23,280 votes.

NameTotal VotesPercent
Sunil Dasgupta127,07545.26%
Lynne Harris150,35553.55%
Write-ins3,3541.19%
Results as of 9:55pm

Congratulations, Lynne!

Categories
Elections

The 2020 MoCo Local Election Guide

Election Logistics

Request your mail-in ballot: You have until October 20th to request your mail-in ballot.

Returning your ballot: You can return your ballot by:

You cannot return your ballot in any other way.

When you return your ballot you must make sure to return it in the envelope provided and it must be signed. If either of these things does not happen, your ballot will not be counted.

Early Voting Centers will be open from October 26th to November 2nd. There are 11 Early Voting Centers in Montgomery County and you can vote at ANY of these locations. They are:

LocationStreetCityZip Code
Activity Center at Bohrer Park506 S. Frederick AvenueGaithersburg20877
Damascus Community Recreation Center25520 Oak DriveDamascus20872
Executive Office Building101 Monroe StreetRockville20850
Germantown Community Recreation Center18905 Kingsview RoadGermantown20874
Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center4301 Willow LaneChevy Chase20815
Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center14906 Old Columbia PikeBurtonsville20866
Mid-County Community Recreation Center2004 Queensguard RoadSilver Spring20906
Potomac Community Recreation Center11315 Falls RoadPotomac20854
Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department17921 Brooke RoadSilver Spring20860
Silver Spring Civic Building1 Veterans PlaceSilver Spring20910
Wheaton Library & Community Recreation Center11701 Georgia AvenueWheaton20902

There are 40 locations for voting on Election Day

Sample Ballot

Montgomery County’s sample ballot is already available.

2020 Election Races

Presidential

We live in Maryland, a decidedly Blue state that will likely go to Biden and Harris. If you have reservations voting for either of those two (which are valid!) then I urge you to look into the two sets of third party candidates on the ballot in Maryland: Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker of the Green Party and Jerome Segal and John de Graaf of the Bread and Roses Party. This is not an endorsement for either, but know that you do have more options. Yes, I know there is also a Libertarian option.

Representatives in Congress

District 3

It’s 2020 and if you don’t have LGBTQ issues, especially trans issues, explicitly on your campaign website I’m not going to spend a ton of time talking about you. With that being said, John Sarbanes is running for District 3 and the Democrats can’t afford to lose a seat in either the House or Senate.

District 6

If your only LGBTQ issue is passing the Equality Act then you have some work to do, but again, Democrats can’t afford to lose a seat in either the House or Senate so voting for David Trone is advised.

District 8

Jamie Raskin is the only actual Progressive running for Congress in Montgomery County in 2020. He’s been a rockstar in the House and will continue putting in the work if re-elected.

Judge of the Circuit Court Circuit 6

You can vote for up to 4 judges for Circuit Court. Some of these judges are currently seated, but that doesn’t mean you should vote for them. You also don’t have to vote for 4. You can just vote for 1, which is what I’m doing.

Maryland has one of the highest incarceration rates for Black men in the entire country. Black individuals make up just 31% of the population in Maryland but account for 69% of the prison population. Currently, Maryland has the highest incarceration rate for young Black men in the country.

I can’t support sitting judges that have contributed to this. That’s why the only candidate for Circuit Court I’m voting for, and one that MoCo Local is endorsing, is Marilynn Pierre.

Judge, Court of Appeals Circuit 7

The Court of Appeals is the highest court in the State of Maryland, aka the Supreme Court of Maryland. You don’t get to vote a judge onto the Court of Appeals, but you do get to decide whether they can keep their seat. If a majority of voters select “No” then a new judge is appointed by the Governor. I urge you to vote “Yes” for Mary Ellen Barbera because Hogan doesn’t need to leave any more of a stain on Maryland than he already has.

Judge, Court of Special Appeals At Large

The Court of Special Appeals is an intermediate appellate court. Similar to judges on the Court of Appeals, voters do not get to vote judges onto the court. They are initially appointed and then voters get to choose whether judges can remain on the court or not. If a majority of voters vote “No” on their ballots, the Governor can appoint a new judge. This is why I urge you to vote “Yes” for E. Gregory Wells.

Judge, Court of Special Appeals District 7

The Court of Special Appeals is an intermediate appellate court. Similar to judges on the Court of Appeals, voters do not get to vote judges onto the court. They are initially appointed and then voters get to choose whether judges can remain on the court or not. If a majority of voters vote “No” on their ballots, the Governor can appoint a new judge. This is why I urge you to vote “Yes” for Steven B. Gould.

Board of Education At Large

The June primary for the Board of Education At Large seat was divisive. Thankfully, pro-equity candidates moved onto the General election. There are a number of places where you can find out where both Sunil Dasgupta and Lynne Harris stand on issues that our school district is currently facing–the Equity Questionnaire is a great place to start if you want to ensure that all students receive an equitable education. 

I like both Sunil and Lynne as candidates and I think both would do well in the role.

Board of Education District 2

Incumbent Rebecca Smondrowski is in favor of “local schools” which is not quite the racist dog whistle as “neighborhood schools” but…isn’t much better. She was the only candidate to not show up to the MoCo Local and the LGBTQ Democrats of Montgomery County Board of Education Forum. She also failed to respond to the Equity Questionnaire. She also voted against studying school boundaries.

Her opponent, Michael Fryar, is in favor of using data to redistrict school boundaries but believes it should be a last resort. He did complete the Equity Questionnaire.

I’ll be voting for Michael Fryar because I don’t think Rebecca Smondrowski is up to the challenge of creating an equitable education system for all students.

UPDATE: I wrote in Dalbin Osorio for District 2, who ran for the At-Large seat but didn’t receive enough votes to move to the general election.

Board of Education District 4

Incumbent Shebra Evans has done a good job of representing District 4 on the Board of Education so I urge you to re-elect her.

2020 Ballot Questions

On this year’s ballot we have two state questions and four county questions.

Maryland State Question 1

One of my biggest complaints with Maryland politics and governing is how much control the governor has over how the state can spend money. The legislative branch has almost no say in the budget, and ultimately that means residents have no say either, and it’s a shame. Question 1 is for a Constitutional Amendment that would change this, giving more power to the Maryland General Assembly to control the budget.

I’ll be voting in favor of the constitutional amendment.

Maryland State Question 2

The Maryland Constitution was amended in 2007 that would require a referendum on any changes to legal gambling in the state. Voting in favor of this question would give the Maryland General Assembly the ability to pass legislation legalizing sports betting.

I’ll be voting in favor of the constitutional amendment. If this passes, we would need to ensure that there is plenty of oversight in whatever legislation is passed, but that’s an issue for another time. Progressive organizations have mostly come out against this question, but as someone who grew up in a family with several members addicted to gambling I would much rather have legal gambling than illegal gambling.

Montgomery County Question A

Current law places a cap on how much total tax revenue the county can receive. This law would replace the tax revenue limit with a cap on the property tax rate. This means the county would be able to have more revenue to work with, ultimately providing an opportunity to fund more services. Any increases to the property tax rate would need to be approved by all of the Councilmembers.

MoCo Local recommends that you vote for Question A.

Montgomery County Question B

This Amendment would prohibit the county from increasing total revenue received by property taxes beyond the rate of inflation under any circumstances. This would severely limit the services that the County could fund, including education. If passed, this would benefit the county’s most wealthy which is probably why the petitioned for it in the first place.

MoCo Local recommends that you vote against Question B.

Montgomery County Question C

There is no doubt that the population of the county has grown in recent years and the current council structure could use some updating. Councilmember Evan Glass introduced Question C to increase the number of Councilmembers from 5 to 7, and would keep the 4 At-Large seats. This would ensure each council district would represent around 150,000 residents.

Andrew Saundry’s op-ed from September argues for why Question C is the best option for UpCounty (as well as the rest of the county): “Ballot Question C captures the best of both worlds: We retain the at-large members while increasing the number of districts by two to increase representation for all.”

MoCo Local recommends voting for Question C.

Montgomery County Question D

Question D, submitted by petition, would change the Council structure by removing all At-Large seats and creating 9 districts. Started by UpCounty residents, this structure would actually reduce representation. Adam Pagnucco at The Seventh State has written extensively about who funds Nine Districts and why Republicans are in support of this kind of structure.

MoCo Local recommends voting against Question D.

If you feel that this helped you in any way, consider buying MoCo Local a coffee or beer. You can do so through Venmo (@Vito-Anastasia).