Category Archives: PG County District 9 BOE race

Slate Endorsements Are Major Factor in BOE Elections

This post originally appeared on the Prince George’s County Advocates for Better blog. I am posting it here as well, as the topic is highly relevant to this blog.

How do you know which candidate is most likely to win a Prince George’s County Board of Education race? As with any election, there are many factors at play. Some aspects of the candidates and races may be too difficult to analyze objectively, such as the quality of the candidates’ ideas, campaign skills, and personal effort put into campaign activities. However, many important factors affecting the campaigns are quantifiable and easily compared.

In order to determine what factor has the greatest impact on the election results, I set out to analyze the 2014 BOE races in Prince George’s County. Based on my knowledge about our elections, I identified the following four factors as major potential contributing factors to a candidate’s success:

  • Incumbency
  • Fundraising
  • Democratic Party slate endorsement
  • Other endorsements (local media, county teachers union)

To refresh everyone’s memory, here are the general election results for the four BOE elections held in 2014:

* Election winner

And this is how the analysis of the four major factors came out:

* Williams was appointed to the District 9 seat less than a year before the election
** Includes endorsements by the Washington Post, Gazette, and Prince George’s County Educators’ Association

To better identify the factor that appears to have the greatest impact on the election results, the following color-coded table indicates the factors where each candidate had a clear advantage (green), disadvantage (red), or the candidates were somewhat equal (yellow).makila_boe_table3

Determining which analyzed factor best correlates with the election results is not very difficult.

Election results: Maryland State Board of Elections, 2014 Official General Election Results,
Fundraising: Maryland State Board of Elections, Maryland Campaign Reporting Information System,
Democratic slate endorsements: For example,
Washington Post endorsements:
Gazette endorsements:
Prince George’s County Educators’ Association endorsements:

I Was Right

Prince George’s County Council’s proposal to extend term limits for its own members and the County Executive is pulling me back to this blog after a summer hiatus. But, before I get to that topic, I feel the need to gloat a bit about my District 9 Board of Education primary race prediction.

Once we knew that Sonya Williams was going to be the chosen candidate of the incumbent elected officials and her name was going to appear on the “sample ballot” advertisements being mailed to District 9 voters, I knew the BOE primary race was over. These June primary election results, as reported by the Maryland State Board of Elections, prove I was right:

  • Sonya Williams: 5,383 votes (42.3%)
  • Domonique Flowers: 4,502 votes (35.4%)
  • Denise Joseph: 1,826 votes (14.4%)
  • Johnnie Isaac: 1,010 (7.9%)

For me, the only surprise was that the race was as close as it was. I know that Mr. Flowers had prepared for his campaign for a long time and worked very hard, and that obviously shows in the results. But it still wasn’t enough to overcome the advantage provided by incumbent endorsements and their sample ballots.

It is important to note that this BOE race is not over. The top two vote getters from the primary—Williams and Flowers—will appear on the November general election ballot. When it comes to that election, I will stick with my prediction: Incumbent support and those sample ballots will carry Williams to victory.

District 9 BOE Race Is Over

Since I was not explicit in my earlier post, I want to make the announcement clear: The race for the District 9 seat on the Prince George’s County Board of Education is over. Now, more than a month before the June 24 primary, we know who will win that election and the November general election. As I predicted last fall, the person who receives the endorsement of our local incumbent politicians will win the race. According to my knowledgeable sources, the winner of the incumbent endorsement—and thus the race—is Sonya Williams.

It is a sad reflection on our supposedly democratic election system that a handful—in this case only one—incumbent politicians get to decide our lower ballot elections for us.

With regards to the District 9 BOE race, the silver lining is that Mrs. Williams is a good, capable person that I am happy to have as my representative on the BOE.

How an Elected BOE Seat Becomes an Appointed One

As a local activist, I have decent sources to find out what is going on behind the scenes in the Prince George’s County District 9 Board of Education race. I am sad to report that, as a result of our current election laws and the peculiar circumstances surrounding the race, the District 9 BOE seat is becoming an appointed seat.

This is how the unfortunate change unfolded:

  • In the 2013 legislative session, a law was passed that added several appointed members to the Prince George’s County Board of Education. In addition, the County Executive was given the power to appoint the replacement for any elected BOE member who resigns before his/her term expires.
  • In September 2013, District 9 BOE member Donna Hathaway-Beck resigned.
  • In December 2013, County Executive Rushern Baker appointed Sonya Williams to the District 9 BOE seat.
  • In the June 2014 primary election, the local incumbent politicians’ party loyalty dictates that they and their candidate slate endorse Baker’s appointee and include her on their “sample ballot.”
  • The candidate endorsed by the local slate cruises to an unavoidable victory in the June primary and November general election.

In all reality, the voters of District 9 will have no meaningful say in the election of our BOE member. The selection was made by one person, County Executive Baker. For all intents and purposes, the District 9 BOE seat is an appointed position at this time.

Important note: My take on this situation is in no way a criticism of the appointed District 9 BOE member, Sonya Williams. I know her, I like her, and as a PTA activist I work with her. In fact, I believe County Executive Baker made an excellent choice in appointing her to the BOE. My only beef is with the obvious shortcomings of our system of “elections.”  As I have stated before, I am not taking sides in the District 9 BOE primary.

BOE District 9 Endorsements Making Race Interesting

Now that we are getting closer to the June 24 primary, endorsements in the District 9 Board of Education race are starting to happen. A few days ago the Gazette endorsed Domonique Flowers. Not surprisingly, County Executive Rushern Baker is backing Sonya Williams, whom Baker appointed to the BOE in December.

The fact that all of the endorsements are not going to one candidate makes the District 9 race more interesting. My firm belief continues to be that whichever candidate gets the endorsement of our local incumbents will prevail in the June primary and November’s general election.

I Won’t Endorse in District 9 BOE Race

Even though I will follow the Prince George’s County District 9 Board of Education race closely, I will not be endorsing any of the candidates in the contest. I have two reasons for this:

First, there really is no point in endorsing anyone when it won’t make any difference regarding the outcome of the election. Whoever the incumbent politicians endorse will win the election, so why waste my energy or resources on behalf of any of the candidates?

The second reason for me not to endorse anyone is the fact that I am an active PTA person in my child’s school, and I feel that we PTA leaders should think long and hard before getting openly involved in races like this. It is my experience that, as people start taking sides in local elections, things can get heated and ugly very quickly. I want to avoid such a situation in the interest of our local PTA.

Table Is Set for BOE District 9 Race

Now that the February 25, 2014 filing deadline for candidacy has passed, we also know who will be running for the Prince George’s County District 9 Board of Education seat. According to the Maryland Board of Elections website, we have the following four candidates for the District 9 BOE race:

  • Domonique Flowers
  • Johnnie Isaac
  • Denise Joseph
  • Sonya Williams

Williams will be the incumbent in the race since she was appointed to the BOE seat in December by County Executive Baker.

On this blog, I follow this BOE race for one reason. I want to find out if my thesis regarding incumbent slate endorsements holds true. As I have stated before, I am convinced that the candidate who receives the endorsement of the local incumbent politicians and their slate will prevail

Missed Special Election Could Have Been a Real Election

The fact that County Executive Baker took his time to appoint a new District 9 Board of Education member made me think that in those three months we could have had a special election to fill the seat. As I pondered this, I also came to realize that, under our current system of slates and sample ballots, having a special election to fill a vacancy on the BOE would likely provide voters with a rare chance to have a real election for such a lower ballot office. If there was a special election where there are no other races on the ballot, I would be very surprised if an incumbent slate dedicated significant financial resources to the race. Thus, a special election could provide us with a real election where all the candidates would compete on an even field and they would need to win on their own merits. Wouldn’t that be something special?

Of course, this is just a meaningless mental exercise since the County Executive and his buddies in the Maryland Legislature decided in their infinite wisdom that we should not bother with elections to fill openings on the BOE. Still, even the idea of a real election for a BOE seat got me pretty excited.