Sunday, January 8, 2017

Board of Education – Blackjack +1

The rest of January is going to be challenging in terms of writing for fun.  With that in mind, here is a quick initial run-down of potential 2018 BoE candidates.  Bear in mind there are 4 seats up, which means that the field will be winnowed down to 8 after the Primary.

Incumbents (4)

-       Bess Altwerger, Vice Chair.  Elected in 2014.  As of this writing, the only mortal lock to seek re-election.   Likely to win another term if she does.

-       Cynthia “Cindy” Vaillancourt, Chairperson.  Serving her second term on the BoE.  Top vote-getter in the 2014 General Election for the Board.  A near sure-bet to win a third term. I am hearing speculation in certain circles that she may not want to run for the Board again, but wants to be certain that the new Reform majority is solid before making a final decision. 

-       Sandra “Sandie” French.  A long-time BoE Member (21 years and counting), the current buzz is that she is disinclined to run for another term. Aggregating the wisdom from the Echo Chamber, I would estimate a 1-in-3 chance of her running for the BoE in 2018.  If she does, she probably finishes in the top 8 in the Primary but I believe she would finish no higher than fourth in the General, and could lose depending on the composition of the field.

-       Christine O’Connor.  Still in her tumultuous first, and perhaps only, term, I am hearing that she is dissatisfied with Board life…and being in the minority is unlikely to change that.  One in four chance of running for the BoE again and even if she does, she might not get past the primary. 

From the BoE to the Council (and Back Again?)(2)

-       Mary Kay Sigaty.  Last served on the BoE in 2006.  Current Council person in the 4th (term-limited out). Retains strong Name ID in Columbia.  Probably a better bet for MKS than running for County Exec.  Would finish in the top 8, decent bet to win one of the 4 seat in the general.

-       Courtney Watson.  Last served on the BoE in 2006.  Former Council Member from the 1st.  Democratic nominee for County Executive in 2014.  Solid County-wide Name ID.  Odds of winning a BoE seat?  High assuming two open seats, extremely high assuming three.    

Former BoE Members (non-Council Members)(3)

-       Ellen Flynn Giles.  Of the incumbents who lost in 2016, EFG is the one most likely to try to win a seat back.  Likely to finish in the top 8, would be a challenge to place in the top 4 in November, but her odds would increase if Sigaty and Watson did not run and there were three open seats.

-       Ann De Lacy.  Who knows what ADL might decide.  She has torched many bridges.  I doubt she would finish higher than tenth, assuming a full field with several well-known (and less controversial) candidates. 

-       Janet Siddiqui.  Another incumbent who failed to secure re-election in 2016.  It is challenging to ascertain what steps House Siddiqui may take to reacquire a public office.  A stronger candidate than ADL, I nonetheless think she would have a tough time winning a seat back, in light of her higher unfavorable numbers throughout the County.
We aren’t even half-way through yet.

2016 Candidates (4)

-       Corey Andrews (also a 2014 candidate…and 2012).  He posted a good showing in ’16, finishing 7th ahead of two incumbents and almost garnering enough votes to appear on the General Election ballot.  I don’t know Mr. Andrews well.  I hear good things and what I am about to say should not be taken as a criticism.  If I were advising him, I would ask how badly he wanted to serve on the BoE.  A young man, he has run for office unsuccessfully a couple of times now.  He is on the borderline of entering perennial candidate status.  How much has he changed since 2012? 2014? Since 2016?  Perhaps he should do some other things professionally and run again in another decade.  I also hear his name attached to other possibilities but I think some serious self-reflection is in order (in order to maintain his long-term political viability).

-       Robert Miller.  Disclosure: pretty sure I voted for him in both the Primary and General Election in the last cycle. Finished sixth in both. This is where we start talking about the power of the HCEA endorsement, the lack of which hurt Miller in ’16.  If he can get on the Apple Ballot, perhaps he has a better shot of winning a seat.  Without it, in a crowded field, he might finish 7th or 8th in the primary…and most likely around the same place in the General.  I hear he is all but certain to run in 2018, so it will be interesting to see how his strategy evolves and how he applies the lessons learned to another campaign.

-       Pravin Ponnuri.  Decently connected, he placed 10th of 11 candidates in the ’16 primary. In absolute numbers, he wasn’t that far behind the sixth place finisher, but I think he needs a small field to have a chance to get through a primary.  I think he would have a very challenging time winning a seat in November.

-       Vicky Cutroneo.  Placed fourth in November, about 14,000+ votes behind the third-place finisher, Mavis Ellis.  Ran an interesting slate campaign with Christina Delmont-Small, which I believe helped her in the Primary (I think she caught a bit of the Apple Ballot halo effect even though CDS was the only one of the two with the HCEA endorsement).  A decent bet to finish in the top 8 in the Primary, I think she has a tough road to a final four showing in the General.

2014 Candidates (4)

-       Dr. Zaneb Beams.  Finished sixth in the General Election.  Had the HCEA endorsement, which was a decided plus.  I have already written about her regarding District 5.  If she ran for BoE and secured a spot on the Apple Ballot, she probably gets through another primary.  She would most likely need a field with fewer Big Names and multiple open seats to place third or fourth in November.

-       Dan Furman.  Placed fifth in the General Election in ’14, not too far behind Christine O’Connor.  I hear he is likely to run for the Board in ’18.  Assuming he is on the Apple Ballot, I believe he finishes in the top 8 and has a decent shot of winning (finishing fourth) in the General. 

-       Olga Butler. One of several candidates who placed around 1,000 votes behind Mike Smith, I am inclined to believe she is more likely to run for the BoE again as opposed to running in the Second County Council race (a rumor I heard recently), given the focus of her community activism. 

-       Maureen Evans Arthurs.  I am high on her upside potential for a race for a partisan office (a future County Council run, or the General Assembly).  Her deep involvement in Democratic politics plus her Annapolis experience positions her well for such posts.  The challenge is waiting for those opportunities to open up.  I think she would be an excellent BoE candidate if she were to give it another go in ’18, and I believe she could finish in the top 8 in the Primary…it would take excellent execution and good fortune for her to land in the top 4 in the General. 

Wait, there is more…

Other Potentials (5)

-       Lisa Markovitz.  I am not seeing it, given her issue focus…which deals with schools to a certain extent but only as a part of a larger concern re: growth and development.   I doubt he runs for the BoE in ’18.  If she does, her base might allow her to finish in the top 8 in the primary, but I am thinking more like 9th or 10th.

-       Barb Krupiarz.  An intriguing possibility with some clout amongst the Reform constituency. An education activist with a significant digital presence, I don’t know how that might translate into a nuts-and-bolts campaign (or how strong her candidate skill-set is).  Either way, if she runs, it will be something to watch.  I don’t see her as a back-of-the-pack finisher, she could surprise and place 7th or 8th in the Primary and then it is off to the races.

-       Alice Giles.  What if, instead of EFG running for the Board, her daughter runs instead?  At this point, Alice isn’t carrying the electoral baggage of her mother, with the benefit of having a solid political name that is known County-wide.  Ms. Giles, Alice that is, has a broad issue portfolio, so perhaps the County Council is a better fit for her background and interests.  That said, if Alice ran for the Board, I believe she has a very good chance of finishing 5th or 6th (or better) in the Primary and a good chance of winning in November.

-       Deb Jung.  Heard about her as a possible candidate for County Council.  I could see her either going that route or the BoE, given her interest in education.  Regarding her ability to put together an infrastructure and her skills as a candidate, those are question marks at this time.

- Daniel "Danny" Mackey.  Engineer and education activist is also pondering a run for the Board of Education.

Well, after this series, I may need to take a little break.  There might be an odds-and-ends wrap up, but we shall see.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.


  1. I hear mackey for republican central committee, andrews for democratic central committee, and deb jung for D4.

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