As a service to our readers, The Business Monthly asked Howard County candidates running in the 2022 Primary Election to provide responses to a short questionnaire. Their unedited responses follow. This Voters’ Guide includes only the candidates running in the primary election. For candidates who did not respond, their campaign website identified on their candidacy application is listed instead.
Question 1: Provide a brief bio and explain what skills and abilities you would bring to this office.
Question 2: What issues do you consider priorities for this office to focus on, and how would you approach them?
HOWARD COUNTY EXECUTIVE
Molsen Haghighat (R): Please see www.facebook.com/molsen.haghighat for campaign details.
Allan H. Kittleman (R):
Question 1: I was the first person in my family born in Maryland, and I’ve lived here ever since. I went to UMBC for college, and later, to law school at night at the University of Maryland. My values were instilled in me by my father, former Senator Bob Kittleman, who was the only white person to be the President of Howard County Chapter of the NAACP and was a leader in the effort to integrate the Howard County Public School System. I’ve served as a Howard County Councilmember, Maryland State Senator, and Howard County Executive. My core focus is doing what’s best for our community–not worrying about who gets credit. I have consistently worked across the aisle to do what’s right. As County Executive, I worked with the entire County Council (4 Democrats and 1 Republican) to deliver results for our community, as demonstrated by all of my annual budgets passing unanimously. I have also always been willing to break with my party if I thought it was in the best interest of our community. For instance, 10 years ago, I was the lone Republican State Senator to vote for Marriage Equality in Maryland. Even last year, I organized a group called Fair Maps Maryland with former Democratic State Senator Jim Brochin to fight the rampant gerrymandering in Maryland. I have fought my entire career for what is best for our community, and I will continue to do so as the next Howard County Executive.
Question 2: I’m running for County Executive because I share your concerns about our public schools, the safety of our community, the higher cost of living, and the undue influence of large donors, particularly developers. Unfortunately, school redistricting has become political – not just based on capacity and proximity. We need a County Executive who will stand up for our students and parents. When students need additional help, we should provide them resources in their neighborhood school; not just move them further away from their homes. When I was County Executive, I started a program that did just that. I’m also concerned about school safety. I was very disappointed to see County Executive Ball remove School Resource Officers (SROs) from middle schools. I strongly support returning our SROs to middle schools and fostering positive relationships between our students and police officers. The safety of our community also needs to be a higher priority. Last year, Howard County had the highest number of murders since 1984, and carjackings have increased over 100% over the past few years. Even on Super Bowl Sunday, a mother and her young child were hit by crossfire at a Wilde Lake playground. Fortunately, they were not seriously injured, but this must stop! We need a leader who will support our police officers and improve relationships with our community. We also need stronger leadership to make Howard County more affordable. With inflation over 8%, our residents are paying more at the store, more at the pump, and more in local taxes. County Executive Ball raised our fire tax 34%, our trash fee 48%, and our transfer tax 25%. As County Executive, I held the line on taxes and fees, and I believe that, like you, government should live within its means. For the first time, Howard County voters will have the opportunity to pick a candidate who isn’t funded by big donors. As the only County Executive candidate in the Citizens’ Election Fund (CEF), I won’t accept any donations from PACs, businesses, including developers, and other special interests. I only accept donations from individuals, and only up to $250 for the entire campaign. When elected, I will remain in the CEF, and be the first county executive to reject donations from special interests while in office. Howard Countians want a leader who will focus on the priorities that matter most to them and not the priorities of big money donors.
Darren Vilus (R): No response, no campaign website listed.
Calvin Ball (D) (Incumbent):
Question 1: A Maryland native and certified mediator who brings people together, County Executive Calvin Ball earned a BA from Towson State University, an MA from the University of Baltimore, and a Doctorate of Education from Morgan State University. Calvin is a resident of Columbia, where he and his wife Shani are proud parents of two daughters who attend and graduated from Howard County public schools. As an educator for nearly 20 years, school funding has remained a priority for him. He invested the highest amount ever in our schools, the first time the operating budget exceeded $1 billion in County history, which capped a historic increase in County funding above Maintenance of Effort over the last four years to $62.8 million, well more than triple the increase over the previous four-year period.
Question 2: Building upon historic investment in our schools, public safety, and parks, we will continue on the road to recovery from the pandemic together to create the very best quality of life for all. We have strengthened the County’s relationship with many of our critical nonprofits, which will efficiently help magnify our ability to expand opportunities for all. The most recent County approved budget contains more than $12 million for nonprofits through CSP grants, the highest amount ever. This funding will be a foundation for more progress toward our physical, mental, and fiscal health and wellness while effectively addressing trauma and learning loss as we embrace the promise of tomorrow.
Support for our small, local businesses and entrepreneurs has been unmatched. During the pandemic, we provided more than $20 million in federal, state, and county relief funds to over 2,000 businesses of every type. We expanded efforts to assist emerging businesses through Howard County’s Catalyst Loan Fund, which provides access to capital and helps bridge funding gaps. We approved 33 catalyst loans totaling $6.2 million, creating or retaining more than 110 jobs. We recently launched the second cohort of our HoCo Higher program with M&T Bank to train and support entrepreneurs, especially those who are traditionally underserved. We awarded $5,000 in funds to 40 entrepreneurs who completed the program and connected them with business planning resources.
We continue to focus on redevelopment opportunities, with only 2 percent of the land as potential locations for future homes and businesses. We launched the General Plan and invested $500,000 in a Master Plan for Columbia Gateway, an area with the potential to become a major hub of economic activity in the County.
To address an ongoing maintenance backlog, we invested $12.5 million in road resurfacing in the most recent budget – the highest in the last eight years. The plan also includes a record $8.2 million for bike lanes, sidewalks, curb ramps and other projects to help implement the County’s Pedestrian Master Plan, the Bicycle Master Plan, and the Complete Streets policy.
After a flash flood in 2011 and subsequent flash floods in 2016 and 2018, we developed a comprehensive, multi-phase strategic plan to address flooding in Ellicott City. Significant flood mitigation efforts in Ellicott City and Valley Mede include construction of the Maryland Avenue Culvert Expansion, lower Main Street building work, the H4 pond, and final design and construction of the Extended North Tunnel.
Harry Dunbar (D):
Question 1: Served as a program expert and work group manager. As an expert position classifier, interpreted agency organizational and classification policies and objectives for agency-wide application. Negotiated changes with component managers, recommended approval/ disapproval of and/or alterations to organization position proposals. Assignments included entire subordinate agencies or surveys involving the most complex interrelationships, and sensitive organization and classification issues and problems. Analyzed complaints determined course of investigation /inquiry. Reviewed pertinent personnel records, policies and practices. Developed reviews, and examined and approved organizational proposals and position requests at all levels. Assured conformance of all proposed activities with established policies and procedures. Handled potentially high profile personnel requests and appeals. Developed a detailed knowledge of staff functions and programs, e.g., Disability Central Records Operations, Financial Resources, Management, Budget and Personnel. Worked at several Federal agencies including PHS, NASA, BEP SSA and GSA.
Question 2: The continued growth in our county without adequate public facilities has had an adverse impact on our quality of life. Our most prized possessions, our children, are suffering the most in portable classrooms and overcrowded classrooms due to a lack of concern by our elected officials. Roughly nine thousand children require redistricting. Our public schools once rated number one in the state are now ranked only 5th or 6th.
My Democratic establishment opponent Calvin Ball and the current Republican County Executive Allen Kittleman have continuously supported giving our hard earned taxpayer dollars to developers via Tax Increment Financing (TIF’s) schemes that require massive taxpayer debt to subsidize big business. The Kittleman/Ball Team’s giveaways have become the taxpayer’s financial burden. It’s time for this to change and these giveaways will end under my leadership.
I am proud to share that the progressive Democratic organization “Our Revolution” has endorsed my candidacy. I hope to attain your support as well. I thank you for your time and consideration and respectfully ask for your vote for Howard County Executive.
HOWARD COUNTY COUNCIL
Sean J. McCurdy (R): Please see www.mccurdy4hoco.com for campaign details.
Neveen Kurtom (D):
Question 1: I am a resident of Ellicott City, Maryland where I live with my three boys. I graduated from the University of Maryland College Park where I received a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Politics as well as Criminology and Criminal Justice. I then received my Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore School of Law. I own a small business in Howard County. With 15 years of experience as a family attorney, I assist clients with important issues affecting their lives and the lives of their children. Prior to owning my own firm, I worked as a prosecutor and I am passionate about ensuring that my community is safe. Public service has been and will always be at my core. Throughout my entire career, I have been a strong advocate for prioritizing the growth of individuals and the well-being of my community. Having served as the Chair of Howard County’s Board of Appeals and Commission for Women, I am running to be District 1’s next Councilmember to continue my commitment to serving the needs of people. My strong analytical skills, ability to collaborate, and my relationships with community leaders across the county will enable me to better serve District 1. I will apply my passion and engage my network to ensure that our public school system excels, small businesses thrive, and public safety works for everyone. I look forward to using my experience and knowledge to serve the people in District 1.
Question 2: 1. Maintaining a top-quality school system is my top priority. As a Councilmember, funding schools is our singular role related to education in the county and I will ensure our budgets reflect the priorities and comply with the requirements in a fiscally responsible way. Our school system attracts businesses and families to locate and stay in Howard County. As a result, the school system is key to the county’s economic health and continued development. The county should continue to fund the school system to have the resources to provide a quality education to students, with an emphasis on educators’ salaries to attract and retain the best and brightest. Implementing the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations for education will require a significant increase in funding over the next several years.
2. Assisting our hospitality industry (restaurants, hotels, etc.) recover from the pandemic is also a top priority. Our business community is the lifeblood of our county and making sure that our businesses thrive is essential to our real estate community, as well as supporting commercial development. We must recognize that growth and economic development provides for a top-rated school system, diverse recreational opportunities, and a healthy living environment. I support smart sustainable growth and creating an economic environment that will attract business to locate and stay in Howard County. Also, we must have policies to encourage businesses to expand and innovate. Accordingly, redevelopment of areas in need, such as historic Elkridge and the Route 1 corridor, must be a priority. The county should promote and incentivize such redevelopment efforts which have not made significant progress over the past several years.
3. Community safety is another key issue in my campaign. I will push for the funding needed to support our law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency services and support Professional Mental Health Units to partner with police. Ensuring that our communities are safe will, among other things, keep Howard County attractive to homebuyers, renters, and businesses.
4. I support allocating and building more affordable housing across the county. To increase affordable housing, I would require builders to provide ten (10) percent of affordable housing in their developments of 20 or more units. If they do not, I would propose legislation significantly increasing the fee-in-lieu-of for each affordable unit not built. These funds would be used to subsidize rents, provide mortgage assistance, or support efforts by non-profit organizations that build affordable housing.
Liz Walsh (D) (Incumbent):
Question 1: I am a Mount Hebron Viking, Class of ‘89. I am a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech, a civil engineer. I am a Hoya Lawya, Georgetown Law 2000. And now, by choice and heartfelt conviction, I am a public servant. I serve the public good.
Four years ago, I promised to and since steadfastly have supported our County’s public schools. I put real money back into the schools’ annual budget each of the last four years and pursued legislative fixes to schools overcrowding particularly, again and again. I am proud to be endorsed – a second time – by the local teachers’ union.
As promised, I have fought for preservation of our most vulnerable green space: temporarily deferring new development in the old Ellicott City watershed and better protecting our County’s two historic districts—both in District 1, our scenic roads, and our forests and biggest trees. Our local Sierra Club chapter has also, a second time, endorsed me.
And I promised and delivered unflinching focus on good government: one that prioritizes and invests in what’s best for us all, not just a ruling class of special, monied interests. Just like last time, I am endorsed by the Ethics Ballot.
Just like last time, I take not one cent from Developers, other land-use interests and the attorneys who represent them. This time around, I am participating in Howard County’s inaugural Citizens’ Election Fund public financing, which limits qualifying donors to County residents who contribute $250 or less, and I’ve signed the No Developer Money pledge.
Question 2: I live in old Ellicott City. I see first-hand, every day the consequence of local land-use policy gone wrong – for decades. Even after two fatal floods – and more than one near miss even since I’m in office – the County still allows profiteers in, to clear and pave every last parcel of green space left in this most vulnerable watershed, all the others, too. And those profiteers keep funding the same political candidates who keep letting them do whatever it is they want – to the continuing detriment of our no-place-else historic towns, our environment, our schools. It has to stop. I have to keep trying to stop it. I am relieved that a public financing option is available to candidates this election cycle, and that those participating do what I already did last time around: Take no money from the dizzying array of Developer LLCs. Do what’s right for us all. And do it now.
Sheila P. Jennifer (R): Please see www.sheila4hoco.com for campaign details.
Opel Jones (D) (Incumbent):
Question 1: Opel is a loving husband and dedicated father of three, running for re-election for County Council. Dedicated to the community, Opel mentors, tutors, and volunteers in his free time through his fraternity, as well as with the Howard County Democratic Party. He has a background in mathematics, higher education, computer science, and engineering, and recently became a published author. He served formerly as Second Vice President of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee as well as Human Rights Commissioner for Howard County, appointed by former County Executive Ken Ulman.
Throughout the years, Opel has worked as an engineer, mathematics lecturer, development officer, and computer scientist, at Lockheed Martin, Hampton University, Bowie State University, and the federal government, respectively. He also served as Director of the Leadership Institute for several years at Hampton University, teaching leadership studies and developing leaders in addition to teaching mathematics and honors seminars. Currently, he is a faculty member at Towson University.
Opel graduated from High Point High School in Prince George’s County, earned the B.S. from Hampton University, and the M.S. and Ph.D from Howard University, all in mathematics. He is a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., initiated at Hampton University, and past president of the local Howard County chapter. His professional associations include the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, and the National Association of Mathematicians. He and his wife, Shaundra, are extremely proud parents of two boys and a girl: Opel II, Ivan, and Whitley!
Question 2: EDUCATION
With over a decade of experience in higher education, Opel wants Howard County students, from Pre-K through 12th grade and beyond, to have the best educational experience imaginable. Whether going straight to college or trade school, or going directly into the military or workforce, Opel will strive to ensure that appropriate budgets are fully funded and disseminated in a timely manner to help our students thrive.
PUBLIC AND PERSONAL SAFETY
The safety of District 2 residents is essential to the viability of keeping the Columbia area one of the top places to live in the United States. Opel vows to work closely with the Howard County Professional Firefighters Association as well as the Howard County Police Officers’ Association to ensure that public safety remains an integral piece of our everyday lives. In addition, Opel wishes to continue and enhance top-notch training of emergency medical technicians (EMTs), as well as assist with efforts to eradicate human trafficking in the district.
Opel is committed to every one of his neighbors in the district, whether it be Oakland Mills Village, Long Reach Village, outparcels of Glenmont or Sewells Orchard, southern Ellicott City, southern Elkridge, or the Route 1 corridor. The sense of community in Howard County is something that should be modeled across the nation. Opel will work across boundaries to listen to issues and develop solutions that will only enhance our beautiful communities not only in District 2, but throughout Howard County. Working together, we will win together!
William H. Campbell (R): Please see @CampbellforCountyCouncil on Facebook for campaign details.
Christiana Rigby (D) (Incumbent):
Question 1: My name is Christiana Rigby, and it’s been my honor to serve the residents of District 3 on the Howard County Council for the last four years. I am a Democrat seeking re-election to the Howard County Council in 2022. My educational background is in environmental policy, and I started my career as a community organizer, where I worked on consumer protection initiatives, strengthening environmental regulations, and fighting to safeguard employment opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community. I returned to Howard County several years ago to raise my family and continue my service in the community through work with local nonprofits and community organizations. After serving on the Kings Contrivance Village Board, I successfully ran for Howard County Council in 2018. Over the last few years on the County Council, I’ve worked collaboratively with County Executive Ball to deliver record funding for District 3 schools and to pass landmark legislation to improve the lives of Howard County residents. Some of my top legislative priorities have been increasing school funding, taking climate action, expanding access to affordable housing, improving economic justice, and building more equitable transportation systems. I hope to build on this work in a second term. To learn more about my campaign and our shared vision for Howard County, please visit www.christianarigby.com. I hope to earn your support and your vote in November!
Question 2: My top policy priorities for Howard County are education funding, climate action, equitable transportation, affordable housing, and economic justice. On school funding, Howard County is currently beginning its journey to implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a comprehensive overhaul of how we fund our public school system for decades to come. To meet the needs of this law, we need to invest more in our educators and public school system, including by raising teacher salaries, expanding pre-k to all children, and advancing career readiness programs. I strongly support increasing our investment in special education staffing and programs to ensure that every student in Howard County public schools has the resources they need to succeed. We also need to make significant progress on climate action and reaching net-zero carbon emissions on an urgent timeline. This will require budget investments, legislation to disincentivize fossil fuels, and shifting land-use patterns which reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Part of our work on climate change also includes improving sustainability and providing more options in our transportation systems. I support investing in our public transit system, as well as investing in pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure across Howard County. These types of Complete Streets improvements help our neighbors travel around our county in safer, sustainable, and affordable ways, and I will continue to prioritize these investments in our district and across the county. Expanding access to affordable housing opportunities in more areas of our community in another top priority of mine. So many of our neighbors are burdened or severely burdened by the cost of housing in Howard County. There are several strategies that the local, state, and federal government can take to improve access to housing affordability in Howard County, including rental and downpayment assistance, inclusionary zoning, PILOT agreements, and other policy tools that we should expand to improve access to affordable and attainable housing.
Hank Boyd (D):
Question 1: Dr. Hank Boyd, Esq. is a Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He is also the Managing Director at Ombudsman LLC, a diversified consultancy. He is licensed to practice law in Maryland, Wisconsin, and the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin. Hank received his Ph.D. in Marketing from Duke University (with an emphasis in Consumer Behavior) and his J.D. in Intellectual Property from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At the age of 24, he received his MBA in Marketing from the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to graduate study, he obtained his A.B. in Chemistry (with an emphasis in Biophysics) from Princeton University.
Hank’s opinions have appeared in USA TODAY, The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Washington Business Journal, Wisconsin State Journal, Sports Illustrated, OZY, ESPN’s The Undefeated, Crain’s Chicago Business, Morning Consult and CNBC. He has participated in live interviews on Maryland Public Television, NBC News (local affiliate WMTV Channel 15 News), CBS News (local affiliate WISC-TV Channel 3 News), WTOP, WMAL, WIBA and Knowledge@Wharton. During his academic career, Hank has taught over 17,500 students the intricacies of marketing theory and practice. A brief listing of his former clients includes the NFL, ExxonMobil, SAIC, Verizon, Stanley Black & Decker, and Ocean Tomo. Hank resides in Fulton, MD with his wife, Isabel, and his daughter, Giselle. Campaign website: https://votehankboyd.com.
Question 2: Education. I assert that we can only reap the benefits of a knowledge-based economy if we have a highly educated workforce. Teachers must have the right to maintain their autonomy to teach as they see fit. Excellence in education is not based upon set curricula, but within the caliber and commitment of the teacher who spurs their students onward.
Balanced Growth. Nestled in the Piedmont Plateau region, Howard County’s typography is defined by endless rolling hills spanning over 254 square miles. Given its lush pastures, Howard County served chiefly as farming county for the State of Maryland. Now having been discovered by eager builders and developers, new neighborhoods dot the horizon. While this tax base has enriched our county, I stand for a balanced growth approach toward future development.
Electrical Infrastructure. Have you ever experienced an electrical power outage? Then you know all productivity ceases. As we move deeper into the 21st Century, our usage of electricity will only skyrocket. Every decision to invest in our electrical infrastructure is designed to fortify the success of our future. To meet this inevitable energy demand, I contend that we ought to invest in fortifying our electrical infrastructure and support grid throughout Howard County.
Janssen Evelyn (D):
Question 1: Experience and representation matters – and I bring both. I bring a decade of local government and community advocacy experience to this role. I also bring lived experience, having lived the struggles and the successes of this community. As a result, I am keenly aware of the challenges and opportunities facing District 4 residents and am equipped with the practical experience to work effectively to get things done.
After immigrating to Maryland as a child from Barbados, I earned an undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in Political Science before receiving a law degree from Washington and Lee School of Law. Professionally, I have served in the C-suite of two County Executives – appointed by Allan Kittleman and re-appointed by Dr. Ball, I served as the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer for Howard County where I assisted the CAO with managing the day-to-day operations of the County. I also oversaw multiple administration priorities for several County agencies in procurement, central fleet, human resources, human rights and equity, and helped in daily labor/management relations. Previously, I also worked in the Howard County Office of Law as an Assistant County Solicitor, Prince George’s County Office of Law as an Associate County Attorney (Government Operations Unit), and in the private sector, including Baker Donelson.
Currently, I serve the community as a Commissioner on the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights and on the Howard County Conservancy’s Executive Board. I have also served two terms on the Hickory Ridge Village Board.
Question 2: My top three priorities are centered around (1) education – ensuring that every child receives a free, high quality, equitably funded, public education, (2) affordable housing/redevelopment, and (3) protecting our environment through responsible stewardship to ensure our children have climate resilient communities filled with green spaces.
Howard County is the second fastest growing County in Maryland, and we need public servants that understand that reality and will boldly go to meet the challenge of how we ensure that opportunity is shared by everyone who lives here and growth is managed in a way that does not detract from our highly regarded education system, safety, and high quality of life.
Affording housing is tied to many of the issues facing Howard County. As a graduate of PlanHoward Academy and a representative on the Columbia Association’s Visioning Project, which was done in preparation for HoCo By Design, I know that more missing middle housing is needed to reduce housing cost inflation, to balance existing and new job creation, to reduce commute times and improve housing access. As our population continues to grow, we must do more to ensure access to affordable, high quality housing and homeownership across the full range of income levels. Otherwise, housing prices will continue to keep out all but the highest earners – and keep out the necessary balance of young professionals and older residents necessary for a thriving community.
We need leadership with vision, boldness, and experience that embodies the diversity of District 4. I have the experience needed to address the nuts and bolts of local government, while broadening access and representation. My commitment to the voters of District 4 is to bring them along with me as we chart our path into this exciting new future. Together, we will protect our open spaces, build out mass transit opportunities, celebrate artistic vision, and learn from each other. My experience rich, solution oriented approach resonates with many – which is why I have been endorsed by the Columbia Democratic Club, the Thurgood Marshall Democratic Club, the Young Democrats of Howard County, the African Americans in Howard County organization, the Working Families Party, the Howard Progressive Project, the Howard County Association of Realtors, the Howard County Police Officers’ Association, FOP Lodge 21, current District 2 Councilmember Dr. Opel Jones, former District 4 Councilmember Mary Kay Sigaty and former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, among others.
Deb Jung (D) (Incumbent):
Question 1: As the incumbent Councilmember, I am fully qualified to continue in this position. I understand the legislative process, how to conduct council business and get things done. Experience in this position is important to achieving effective outcomes.
As a successful attorney in the nonprofit sector for over 25 years and a community leader, I learned how to be a strong advocate and raise important issues. My drafting, analytical, and negotiating skills have been very helpful in the legislative arena and enabled me to pass legislation that matters to those in our community. I have been trained to conduct due diligence and ask tough questions – qualities important to legislative oversight and transparency which I have used effectively during my time on the Council.
I am a hard worker and believe strongly in preparing thoroughly for Council meetings. In fact, I have only missed one meeting during my time on the Council and that was because I was testifying before the State Senate Finance Committee as the Council representative to the BWI Roundtable. I enjoy interacting with and helping people and am dedicated to constituent service and being accessible to the residents of District 4 and elsewhere in the County.
Question 2: My time on the Council has been very gratifying – particularly when I can make a difference and help people. I believe that there is unfinished business and I have more to contribute. Specifically:
• I want to ensure that school funding is maximized to the extent we can under our budget process. Education remains my number one priority. A successful school district requires a collaborative effort which has always been my approach.
• Sound growth management and land-use controls are critical to our overall quality of life. The upcoming adoption of the General Plan will involve a strategic balancing of different desirable public policies. I have developed knowledge as a councilmember about land-use planning decisions and have been a dependable advocate for responsible growth management. I will add that balanced perspective to the General Plan process.
• In our efforts to promote environmental protection and combat climate change, the Council made significant progress. I want to ensure that the newly enacted Forest Conservation law is strictly enforced and that the solar energy siting bill benefits residents of Howard County.
• I will continue to speak out in favor of the human rights of our residents and ensure that our diverse communities are treated with respect. Attending rallies, utilizing social media, and meeting with impacted community members can help people feel heard. At times, depending on the situation, legislation may be necessary to address discriminatory actions or harassing behavior.
• Affordable housing continues to be a priority for me. The development of effective affordable housing strategies is very important to Howard County’s future. I feel strongly that we need promote affordable housing that reflects diversity by design, that does not result in an over-concentration of poverty in our schools and provides a pathway to homeownership and the creation of intergenerational wealth.
• I want to find ways to keep our seniors in the County, whether it is through tax credits, additional services, or more robust at-home services. We need to be more generous with our tax credits which can be done through legislation.
• We need to accelerate planning and funding to expand Public Transportation, including Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and MARC service.
• Growing the County’s commercial tax base requires more attention. With the pandemic ending, we need to refocus as a community on strategic economic development as well as business retention, small business development, and minority business contracting.
David Yungmann (R) (Incumbent):
Question 1: I moved to Howard County almost 50 years ago, where I grew up in the Valley Mede/Mt. Hebron area and have lived in Woodbine for 20 years. Both I and my two grown kids attended K-12 public schools. My career has included banking; mergers, acquisitions and development; healthcare operations and real estate.
My finance and real estate background, experience as a business owner and broad overall understanding of the county have served me well during my first term on the County Council. The county government and school system budgets get fine-tuned and approved by the Council, as do significant capital projects, fiscal policy and funding bills. Land use and subdivision policy, long term planning, managing growth and certain development projects come before the Council or Zoning Board. Many of the resident concerns that come into our office involve property and zoning issues which I deal with daily through my real estate work. We have considered many policy changes that are hostile to businesses and being the only member with public sector and business owner experience has been helpful in finding ways to pare back some of those proposals. Bills that involve a wide range of issues from all over the county are considered monthly so my broad understanding of all communities, our many non-profit service providers, the school system and other moving parts of our county has been critical in this position. Finally, I have demonstrated an ability to work with all four other council members and the Administration to find compromise on policy and deliver for my constituents.
Question 2: Grow commercial tax base. Commercial development and business growth provide much needed revenue without the offsetting service costs that come with residential development. I have supported increased property assemblage funding for the Economic Development Authority and opposed excessive environmental and minimum wage legislation that increases the cost of doing business in Howard County. I will continue to prioritize this by making sure the new general plan focuses on maximizing commercial opportunities, leading a work group to identify potential policy changes and removing regulations that increase the cost of doing business in Howard County.
Control spending. Howard County cannot sustain its high quality of life with unsustainable excessive spending. I worked with colleagues to reduce the County Executive’s proposed budgets four consecutive years and to reject several tax and fee increases. However, spending has still ballooned, several taxes and fees have been raised and interest groups continue to demand things we can no longer afford. I will continue to prioritize needs such as education, public safety and economic growth, control long-term spending and oppose increases in taxes.
Support agriculture. Agriculture is the fifth largest industry in the county and defending and promoting it have been a priority. We have achieved increases in innovation grants, soil conservation funding, hundreds of additional acres into preservation, and many new traditional farms and other agritourism businesses. I fought against regulations that hurt farmers including excessive pesticide restrictions and wage changes. We will prioritize the rollout of new agritourism opportunities to connect people to our county farms, enhance markets for our local producers, and ensure farming and the rural character of the west is protected in the new general plan.
Defend our school system. Maintaining the reputation of our premier school system drives our property values and prosperity. I opposed the Council’s support of social economic based redistricting efforts that moved students away from their neighborhood schools and the local services on which they depend. I also led coalitions to increase funding to the school system and secure a school site in Turf Valley. However, the school system will need to dramatically adjust its spending priorities as all school systems in the state adjust to the unfunded state mandates stemming from the Kirwan Commission. I will continue to prioritize strong funding of school system needs, the construction of the Turf Valley elementary school and other capital requirements.
Joan U. Pontius (D):
Question 1: I have lived in Howard County 23 years, providing a firm basis for understanding the issues affecting the county. My educational background includes a Doctorate in Biology and a certification as a Project Management Professional. Over the past 30 years, my professional roles have been as data analyst, project manager, technical writer, programmer, and guest lecturer. Through my professional career, I have developed skills needed to consider multiple aspects of complicated issues, communicate, and work with a group toward a common goal. My community involvement has consisted of keeping abreast of county plans, informing neighbors of changes that affect us, organizing community meetings, testifying before the county and state delegates, giving feedback to the county at conditional use hearings, and filing zoning omplaints. Through all of these, I have become familiar with county politics and zoning issues related to land use. Outside of our small community, I also have concerns over the county’s loss of open spaces to residential development and the resulting crowding of schools, traffic congestion, and devastating effects of stormwater runoff. These changes have provided financial gain to outside interests but left residents to deal with the negative impact. My first hand experiences have shaped my concern for the future of Howard County, specifically for District 5 which, being the rural west, retains the open spaces that make Howard County unique. Our county needs a sustainable plan that considers not only the economy, but quality of life and our environment.
Question 2: My three priorities are: 1) representing county residents rather than profit-driven interests 2) land use and sustainability 3) fiscal responsibility. 1.Residents need stronger representation by their county council. Political donations from corporations and special interests—paired with zoning decisions that benefit these interests to the detriment of quality of life for residents—have eroded trust in our leaders. Real estate development has left our residents with crowded schools, traffic congestion, loss of open spaces, and an increase in taxes to pay for infrastructure. Economic growth is crucial, but residents need a voice in changes that affect them. My campaign has no corporate donations. It is a publicly financed campaign, with donations exclusively from residents and limited to $250. I plan to work toward the preservation of our residential quality of life in Howard County when elected to county council.
2.Land use and sustainability issues are critical this election, since next year, the General Plan will be adopted by our new County Council. This plan will guide the county’s land use for the next ten years. The county’s rapid economic growth has pushed aside social and environmental considerations needed for a sustainable society. Retention and enforcement of our zoning regulations, as well as strengthening of our Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO), are crucial in maintaining the stability of our neighborhoods, preserving our open spaces, and retaining the quality of life of our residents.
3.Fiscal responsibility: As an analyst and project manager, I value measurable outcomes, determination of root causes, and assessment of return of investment. I see inconsistencies in several aspects of our county budget. Expensive stormwater mitigation projects are crucial, yet the county simultaneously approves more development leading to stormwater runoff. We have tree give ways while bulldozing forests for more housing. Financial incentives for transitioning our society to deal with climate change are well intended but often serve as trickle-UP economics—benefiting those who need financial help the least—for example free charge stations for electric vehicles. All of these costs are passed on to the taxpayer, and Howard County now has the highest tax rate in the state. Our residents need assurance that our laws are made and enforced in a more balanced and transparent manner, so that our county can continue to advance and progress without leaving behind our most valuable assets—our people and the environment we live in.
Rich Gibson (D) (Incumbent): Please see www.richgibson.net for campaign details.
CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT
Wayne Robey (D) (Incumbent): Please see www.robeyforclerk.org for campaign details.
REGISTER OF WILLS
Byron Macfarlane (D) (Incumbent):
Question 1: I am a Howard County native and graduate of our public schools. I attended the University of Maryland and University of Baltimore School of Law. I’ve been active and engaged in government at the local, state, and federal levels since I was in high school and believe deeply in public service. I’ve had the honor to serve as Register of Wills since 2010. During my tenure, I’ve taken an office that had atrophied and lost touch with the public and turned it into a model for how government can be efficient, responsive, connected, and capable of renewal and reform. As the state agency charged with overseeing probate – the legal procedure to transfer assets from someone who has passed away to their heirs – it is especially vital that we provide the very best service to those in grief who come to us for help. From day one, my focus has been treating everyone who needs us with dignity and respect, helping people solve their problems, and reassuring them that we care about what they’re going through. I believe that in my time as Register, I’ve demonstrated that I’ve been extremely effective building a modern model of how government should operate, working with partners and stakeholders to deliver meaningful reform that has a direct positive impact on people’s lives, and being accessible and connected with the people I serve.
Question 2: When I first ran for this office, I promised I would provide professional and compassionate service, I would be an advocate for reform to the probate process to make it faster, fairer, and less expensive for Maryland families, and that I would be accessible and involved in the community. I believe I’ve fulfilled those promises and renew them now in my campaign for another term in office. Looking forward, here are my priorities: First, providing outstanding service doesn’t happen by accident – it happens with effective leadership, vision, and a team of skilled professionals dedicated to helping people when they need it most. I will lead this office to continue serving grieving families with professionalism, compassion, and respect. Second, there is much more work to be done to reform probate to make it faster, fairer, and less expensive for Maryland families. I’m proud of what we’ve done to streamline this process and implement numerous reforms over the years. For example, this year I worked with the General Assembly to overhaul our regressive probate fees. Starting in October, estates under $50,000 – which comprise nearly two-thirds of all estates – will pay no fee at all. This will benefit most people who go through probate, who are disproportionately people of color and those at the lower end of the economic ladder. Looking forward, I’ll work with stakeholders to modernize Maryland’s intestacy laws, which determine who inherits if you die without a will. I’ll advocate ending the outdated requirement of publishing estate notices in print newspapers, saving Marylanders over $1.4 million per year. I’ll lobby to eliminate the need for unnecessary surety bonds in most estates, saving Marylanders over $1 million per year. And I’ll work with my colleagues to implement an e-filing system for probate and pursue other technological advances to further streamline our process. Third, I’ll continue to be active and engaged in the community. During my tenure I’ve spoken dozens of times at Howard Community College, libraries and senior centers, schools, churches, civic associations, and community groups about the importance of having a Last Will and Testament and how probate works. Sharing this insight with the public is a critically important aspect of my role as Register, giving people the tools they can use to protect themselves and their families, and be prepared for this process when the time comes. I’m eager and excited to make real progress in the term ahead.
JUDGE OF THE ORPHANS’ COURT
Christina J. Bostick (D): Please see www.christinabostick.com for campaign details.
Ajile F. Brown (D): No response, no campaign website listed.
Elizabeth Ann Fitch (D) (Incumbent):
Question 1: As a lifelong resident of Maryland, I completed undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland at College Park before graduating with honors from the University of Baltimore School of Law where my studies focused on estate planning and tax law. I am a licensed attorney practicing complex business litigation for a well-respected Maryland firm, and I am a current Judge of the Orphans’ Court for Howard County. My education and experience qualify me for re-election to the Orphans’ Court. In my first term, I became a member of the National College of Probate Judges and the Maryland Association of Judges of the Orphans’ Court. In addition, I have continued my membership with the Maryland and Howard County Bar Associations. If re-elected, I will continue to be involved at the local, State, and National levels to ensure that our probate court is the best that it can be. For more information, please visit https://elizabethannfitch.com.
Question 2: Since the Orphans’ Court is a three-judge panel, it is important to have judges who are professional and willing to work together. This is why I am running for re-election on the first ever all-attorney slate with Ms. Christina Bostick, Esq. and Ms. Ajile Brown, Esq. With decades of combined legal experience and a deep sense of service to the community, we are eager to improve the probate process by enhancing the court’s technology and resources to better serve Howard County. In addition, we endeavor to establish mediation and pro bono programs dedicated to parties who come before the Orphans’ Court for Howard County.
Nicole Bormel Miller (D):
Question 1: I am a lifelong Howard County resident. I have completed four years as an Orphans’ Court judge and I was on the board of the MD Association of Judges of the Orphans’ Court. Also, Previously I worked in the Howard County Circuit Court as a courtroom clerk. During my time at the courthouse I learned to research and apply the law on the job. I have always worked with the public providing customer service.
Question 2: The Orphans’ court was created to be a panel of your peers to hear disputes over the estates, review estate files and sign orders for accounts, fees, and commissions. Judges should have the temperament to handle cases and allow parties a fair and impartial hearing. They need to work together to protect the rights of the heirs and all of the citizens whom they serve.
If I am elected again I will take an active role to inform the public of the importance of the functions of the Orphans’ Court and a properly prepared will. It would be my priority to always treat parties with respect, compassion, and ensure integrity & impartiality in the judicial process. It would be a priority to communicate openly & effectively the reasons for the decisions of the Court.
John Francis McMahon (R):
Question 1: Education Holy Trinity High Hartford Conn,BA Economics providence College,MBA University of Conn.
Work experience: Ford Autolite Division Finance Dept. Independent contractor for bond release (dedication-repairs of county roads) for 40 years. Clients City of Rockville, Fort Meade, Howard County etc. Most of my work was done for developers in Howard County with daily county inspection. My first customer was HRD (Rouse Co). The Rouse Co. was 9 years behind the dedication schedule when they contacted with me. We caught up in a year and never fell behind in the next 32 years. About 32 years ago my wife and I moved to Howard County to raise our 5 children. I retired several years ago and have tried to be a good citizen and an activist.
Question 2: Living and working in Howard County I have seen a lot of good people and a lot of good things. I have also seen a lot of problems. I personally have had numerous equipment thefts as well as ID theft. I have seen many people suffer. I have seen a lack of transparency and cover ups. Of course I am aware of the numerous complaints about our pay to play environment. I ran for Sheriff about 8yrs ago because I saw a problem. I got 43000 votes but was defeated by the incumbent. A year and a half latter a whistleblower stuffed my mailbox with evidence that there were problems in the Sheriffs dept. and it was my duty as a candidate with standing in the courts to take action.We made it through the courts and got to the red robbed judges. Meanwhile the sheriff was accused of various other things and his party suddenly turned on him along with the National press. Numerous Politicians jumped in and threaten to remove him from office. They did not have the power so they negotiated and he resigned. I have asked to see the terms of this negotiation but have been refused. I do not believe the problems in the Sheriffs office are over. My concerns are the original intent of this office was to be the chief law enforcement officer for the county. This is obviously not the case there are numerous other claimants. I am concerned this office may not be independent. Is it controlled by the courts, the political party of the sheriff, the county executive unions? The office should answer only to the people and the Law. The sheriffs primary responsibility is to the people. I welcome their complaints their input and review .Finally I will do everything I can to promote safety for our citizens and deputies. I appreciate the knowledge and experience of the deputies and could never do this job with out them.
Marcus Harris (D) (Incumbent): Please see www.marcusharrisforsheriff.com for campaign details.
HOWARD COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
Tudy Adler: Please see www.adler4BOE.com for campaign details.
Question 1: Linfeng Chen is a structural engineer with a PhD in Applied Mechanics and an active volunteer in HCPSS, Scouts, and AAPI communities. I am uniquely qualified to be a school board member for numerous reasons. First, I have lived in Howard County for 11 years, establishing roots and getting to know the County and its people well. Second, I have three children in the school system covering elementary school, middle school, and high school. This has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of all three levels and current issues at each level. Third, I have a PhD in engineering, which leads me to always try to find an optimal and cost effective solution to address any issue based on data analysis and scientific evidence. Fourth, I have strong leadership experience within HCPSS. I currently serve on the Board of Education Operating Budget Review Committee and have previously served on the HCPSS Science Advisory Committee, Social Study Advisory Committee, and School Calendar Committee. All of these experiences have given me great insights into HCPSS and make me uniquely qualified for the position. I testified many times in front of the Board of Education, including supporting inclusive school calendars reflecting our cultural diversity, supporting the world language program with a wider variety of language offerings, and advocating to include Asian American studies in the school curriculum. Lastly, I am very open minded and can work with diverse groups, seek common ground, and make compromised solutions on complicated issues when necessary.
Question 2: My top three priorities are: (1) addressing the staff shortage; (2) providing adequate school infrastructure; and (3) improving student physical health and mental health.
To address the staff shortage, I will request a review of the ground situation to discover the precise reasons teachers retire early or leave the school system. We must pay staff a decent salary and recognize a job well done through bonuses to retain our staff. We must provide more support for classroom teachers by adding paraeducators. We must improve HR services, streamline the application process, and adjust the hiring timing to attract new graduates. I believe it is worth pursuing and recruiting experienced people from industry and government as part time staff in areas of computer science, world languages, business, vocational technology, upper-level math and science, engineering and other subjects to expand our workforce, improve learning, and potentially free up classroom space by teaching these subjects virtually.
To provide adequate school infrastructure, we should reduce temporary classrooms and increase permanent classrooms to address school overcrowding and reduce redistricting frequency. We can expand existing schools vertically or add permanent additions horizontally. Wilde Lake Middle School is a great modern two-story urban school design model. We must make this a priority and seek capital investment.
To improve student physical health and mental health, we should manage screen time well at school and encourage paper version homework, create more PTA sponsored afterschool programs that promote physical exercising and in-person group teamwork / projects (e.g., let-me-run, science club, gardening club, trout raising / releasing club, crafts club, book club, chess club, etc.). We should work with parents and communities outside school, educate students about the effects of social media and mental health, and share the best practice with parents.
Susan Dreisch: Please see www.susandreisch4boe.com for campaign details.
Julie Hotopp: Please see www.hotoppforboe.com for campaign details.
Question 1: As an educator who is dyslexic with 35 years of experience in education with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters of Arts degree in Secondary Education from Johns Hopkins University, I have a unique set of skills and experiences that make me the best candidate for a seat on the Board of Education. I have lived in Howard County for 25 years where three of my children graduated from a Howard County Public School in which I taught mathematics. I am also a grandmother with elementary school aged children.
From an early age I noticed that there were disparities regarding who had access to effective education. Though I excelled in math, I was denied access to advanced mathematics in elementary school without an explanation. I struggled with reading, but was never offered any assistance. Unaware that I was dyslexic, I earned an undergraduate degree in engineering through sheer determination, creativity, and self-advocacy.
My passion for education began with the births of my three children, each born prematurely. I learned they would each need extra individual support to meet their developmental milestones, so I homeschooled them at various times to give them the kind of in-depth instruction that they needed. As I became more aware of the need for excellent public school teachers, I decided to become a certified educator. I have taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and have been a math tutor and education advocate for more than 35 years.
Question 2: My goals are to support REAL Education, REAL Access, and REAL Family Engagement. Of these three areas I would start with REAL Education to support teacher retention and recruitment, address learning loss due to COVID-19, and fully fund universal Pre-K. These priorities are key components in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future which means the HCPSS would be in alignment with the Maryland State Department of Education’s focus.
Employment processes, wages, and employment incentives have to be adjusted to be more competitive with other school systems to compete for teacher recruitment and retention. Restructuring Central Office staff (trained educators) may be needed to fill some of the classroom teacher gaps until Human Resources can grow the classroom teacher numbers.
I would also promote efforts to grow teachers within the school systems through programs like “Grow Your Own” and apprenticeships like teacher residencies. I would advocate for alternative methods to certify teachers in order to provide broader opportunities for potential educators to enter the profession. The Praxis exam has been used as a gatekeeper for teacher readiness; however, good test-taking should not be the primary determinant for assessing teacher readiness and skill. There must be other effective matrices used to assess readiness to broaden the available pool of educators.
There must be effective strategies implemented to help students overcome the gaps in their learning that developed during the past two years of COVID-19. Along with additional student support staff, I would also support efforts to address learning gaps such as:
● promote the use of social-emotional learning tools to ready students for daily learning,
● assess students to determine learning gaps,
● provide focused instruction designed to fill the gaps,
● fund before and after school programs to further address learning loss,
● engage families and caregivers by providing resources to assist them as they
support their children’s academic needs at home.
I would advocate for universal pre-K as well as any efforts to support birth to three year old early childhood development. Research has shown that approximately 80% of brain development occurs in those early years. Engaging and promoting the importance of children’s brain development will pay dividends during children’s matriculation through
school. Therefore, I will do all that I can to uplift endeavors to make this a county-wide value and effort.
As I work within the Howard County Board of Education, I will center students, teachers, and families in every facet of my decision making process.
Question 1: Laura and I have two children in HCPSS – a rising seventh grader at Harpers Choice MS, and a rising fourth grader at Swansfield ES. I’ve been active in the community since moving here in 2013; my current volunteer activities include serving as a PTA officer at Swansfield, on HCPSS’s Operating Budget Review Committee, as co-chair of the Living Wage Howard County Coalition, on PATH’s Education Action Team, on the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Antisemitism Team, and on the county’s Selective Service Local Board. As an active-duty naval officer, I served onboard warships and as a budget requirements officer on the Navy headquarters staff. Since then, I’ve led teams in corporate America, in federal and local government, and in the nonprofit sector. In all these roles, I’ve helped complex organizations solve tough problems and accomplish their missions more effectively and efficiently through my expertise in strategic planning, organization design, and performance management. I am an experienced negotiator, team leader, and coalition builder. I always seek to find common ground, build consensus, and solve the tough problems in the most effective and appropriate way possible. In Howard County, we treasure our schools and recognize that their work is the key to our future. But HCPSS faces big challenges right now. We need strong, compassionate leaders on the BOE. I am committed to the core Howard County values that are fundamental to HCPSS’s success, most importantly the belief that every child deserves the opportunities, resources, challenges, and support to reach their full potential.
Question 2: One of the biggest priorities for the Board of Education is ensuring a full recovery from the pandemic. So many students have experienced academic learning loss, mental health impacts, and delays in social and emotional development. So many educators are exhausted and feel alienated from the central office. As much as we want to return to “normal,” a full recovery is going to take several years of focused leadership and dedicated resources. We must develop
comprehensive, tailored, data-driven recovery plans for each individual school in the district to guide their recovery. With input from educators, parents, and community members, and with metrics and timelines to ensure accountability, these plans can be our roadmaps for ensuring every student, educator, and school receives the support and resources they need. Additionally, we need to address the mental health challenges our students are facing. Even before the pandemic upended their lives, alarming numbers of our children were coping with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and behavioral disorders. The situation is so dire that a coalition of pediatric health experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, has declared a “National Emergency in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.” There are no shortcuts here, only real commitment and resources to ensure that high-quality, trauma-informed, and culturally competent mental health care is made available to every child in every school. We simply must have more school counselors and psychologists in the schools. We also need more partnerships with community mental health organizations and connections to regional social work graduate school programs that can build a pipeline of school counselors into the district. Finally, we must address the looming staffing shortage. Already understaffed, we are facing a tidal wave of retirements and resignations and must compete with neighboring districts to hire and retain the best educators while our salaries aren’t competitive. It will take a sustained commitment from the Board of Education to pressure the county government to provide the budget necessary to fund competitive salaries. We also must make HCPSS an employer of choice: by giving educators enough planning time; developing a pool of quality substitutes; providing the coaches, mentors, and support needed to turn good teachers into great teachers, and great teachers into world-class; and developing principals who are strong, compassionate leaders. If our educators and staff feel encouraged, empowered, and appreciated, we will be able to hire and retain the best talent our students need and deserve.
Monique Richards: Please see www.votemoniquerichards.com for campaign details.
Question 1: I’m the parent of a recent HCPSS graduate and two more students who will be in HCPSS schools until 2030. I’ve been involved in educational advocacy in the county for over a decade, first with my local PTA and eventually on the county level. I’ve been following the BOE closely for many years, watching and attending meetings and testifying on different issues. I am a teacher’s assistant at a preschool in Columbia, working directly with students. I have also spent a lot of time in my children’s schools doing volunteer work.
I have experience serving on and leading volunteer boards. I served as a PTA president for four years, treasurer for four years, and corresponding secretary for three years. I’ve also been on the PTA Council of Howard County’s board for the past four years. I’ve been an active member of our middle and high school PTAs as well. I also served for a year on our co-op preschool board.
In my earlier years, I had the chance to really develop my customer service skills answering phone calls for the US Postal Service. I think my experiences helping people who were sometimes very angry about their expectations for a taxpayer funded service they relied on not being met gave me some skills I could put to use on the board.
Those who have worked with me have appreciated my calm and collaborative leadership style. They have appreciated my ability to find common ground and to build consensus.
Question 2: Here are three areas that I feel we need to focus on.
Funding – We need to make sure we have the school capacity that we need, the proper maintenance for those schools, the staffing to successfully and safely run our schools, and we need to provide the materials needed for teaching and learning. All of this requires that we make funding our schools a priority. I will continue to advocate for the funding we need to ensure we have what it takes to help every student succeed.
Supports – We need to make sure that we’re setting up our students and teachers for success. We need to ensure that our students with special needs are getting the supports they are entitled to. We need to address mental health and assist students and families in accessing professionals and programs that can help with these growing needs. Staff mental health also needs to be a priority. We need to continue to push for healthy school start times for all levels and to continue to invest in social emotional learning; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and school safety. We want all students to feel and be safe at school, to feel like they belong, and to feel like they can succeed.
Communication – We need to do a better job getting information from the school system out to families and to the community. Different communication formats should be consistently used to increase the reach. Parent and community organizations can be encouraged to help get the word out. Websites should be kept up to date with current information. We should translate essential, timely announcements into multiple languages and make sure that people are getting them in the language they are most comfortable with.
In order to make a difference on these issues we must work together. Parents, teachers, students, board members, county government, state government, and community members are all needed to prioritize education in our county and to help every student reach their potential. I would be a strong advocate for these issues and work to bring people together to get them done.