Ortman-Fouse Reverses Course on Re-Election Bid, Declares She’ll Run for County Council Instead

She says new school board candidate would be “great addition” to board


Jill Ortman-Fouse

Updated 3:55 p.m. Friday: School board member Jill Ortman-Fouse on Friday reaffirmed that she’ll be running for elected office this year.

But she’ll be pursuing an at-large County Council seat, not re-election to the Montgomery County Board of Education as she’d declared earlier this month

Ortman-Fouse, 53, wrote in a Facebook post that she changed her mind following the recent emergence of another candidate for her at-large school board seat. John A. Robertson of Clarksburg, an assistant principal at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown, last week filed to run for the post, and Ortman-Fouse said she’s been impressed by everything she’s seen of him.

“I’m going to step out of the race because I’m confident John would be a great addition to the team, and I can’t wait for you to learn more about him,” wrote Ortman-Fouse, who is wrapping up her first term on the school board.

Ortman-Fouse of Silver Spring said she’s shifted her attention to the council race because she’s eager to broaden her focus from education to other issues that affect children and families. The race for the four at-large council seats is already crowded, with about 30 candidates vying for one of the spots. Ortman-Fouse acknowledged she’s a late-comer to the Democratic primary and said she hasn’t even started raising money for a campaign. However, she asked her readers for their support in her quest for a council seat.

“I would bring the education focus and knowledge of where the gaps are to continue to advocate for our schools. I would continue to be a strong voice for transparency, accountability and responsiveness, to ensure our county resources are used most efficiently and effectively,” she wrote.

Ortman-Fouse said she understands if some are disappointed by her announcement, but said Robertson and she see eye-to-eye on education policy.

After she first noticed Robertson had entered the school board race, Ortman-Fouse said she started researching him and liked what she was able to find online. She and Robertson later met for coffee, she wrote.

“I went down my list of biggest concerns and things I’m passionate about for our students, staff and school system. We are clearly on the same page,” she wrote.

Robertson, 50, has worked for 25 years as an educator, 13 of them in the Montgomery County Public Schools.

"I know how schools work from the inside. I think I bring a perspective to the board and a perspective to the seat that will allow me to expand on her [Ortman-Fouse's] work," Robertson said Friday in a phone interview.

He said, as a school board member, he would bring a focus on social-emotional learning and expanding supports for students' mental health and emotional well-being.

Another contender for the at-large school board position has also stepped forward since Robertson declared his candidacy. Online election records show Marwa Omar Ibrahim, 31, of Gaithersburg filed Feb. 21 for the post. Ibrahim did not immediately return messages requesting comment.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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