BY TERESA LO
Loved by voters but not loved by rubric grading, Jill Ortman-Fouse continues to campaign around the county for the Board of Education’s at-large seat.
Ortman-Fouse received the most votes in the primary election. However, the Montgomery County Education Association’s Apple Ballot list of recommended candidates did not include Ortman-Fouse.
The MCEA contacts “all announced and rumored candidates” running for election or re-election in order to participate in its screening process for recommendations, according to MCEA’s Candidate Recommendation Process Rubric. They each answer a questionnaire and undergo an interview. The Political Action and Legislative Support Committee discusses and rates the candidates. A 58% vote is needed for a recommendation.
Other items on the rubric are; voting record, previous records of communication with MCEA, campaign quality, and previous effectiveness in passing bills and “making things happen”.
Jill Ortman-Fouse (on right) at an elementary school science fair. Photo provided by the candidate.
When Ortman-Fouse asked voters why they voted for her in the primary, they said that they had gone on her website, seen her position, and agreed with it.
“I really appreciate that people did their research. If they agree with my position, I hope they will support me,” said Ortman-Fouse.
Tom Hucker, Maryland Delegate for District 20, endorsed Ortman-Fouse because she supports transparency in the Board of Education’s future decisions.
“Every taxpayer should be able to see what the school system is spending their money on,” said Hucker, “[It’s] the biggest blind item in the Montgomery County budget.”
The current BOE is “difficult to work with,” said Hucker, so he hopes that Ortman-Fouse’s partnership-focused view will be able to improve the communication between the BOE and other elected officials.
Tim Male, Takoma Park City Councilmember, also supports Ortman-Fouse’s stance on greater BOE transparency. Male said there has been too much of a wall between the public and the board, and he thinks Ortman-Fouse will be able to push on that wall.
“Jill is making an appeal for parents and public engagement in the process of deciding policies, that, I think, is really refreshing,” said Male.
Maryland state senator Jamie Raskin, District of Columbia US congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, and BOE candidate Ortman-Fouse. Photo provided by the candidate.
The MCEA made a mistake by not recommending Ortman-Fouse for the BOE at-large seat, said Hucker. He believes that it will have some impact on the upcoming elections, but not be the determining factor, as “there are many recommendations out there”.
Ortman-Fouse’s main support has come from District 20, as her home has been there for 15 years and she has been the most involved in that area. However during her campaign she has made an effort to travel to all areas of Montgomery County and to meet as many people as she could, she said.
The Washington Post, Gazette.net, and George Leventhal, the Montgomery County Council Vice-President also endorsed Ortman-Fouse.