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.