Montgomery County Board of Education Vice President Karla Silvestre on Thursday filed for re-election — the first person to enter the race for any of the four seats up for grabs in the 2022 election.
In an interview Thursday night, Silvestre said that before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she felt the school district was making good progress on many of the issues she based her first candidacy on — ensuring “academic rigor” for all students and expanding access to early childhood education and career and technical education programs.
But the past 19 months have been focused on navigating a catastrophic pandemic that pushed school districts across the country to pivot to virtual classes. In Montgomery County, the school closures lasted more than a year.
Now, along with a renewed focus on getting her campaign priorities “back on track,” Silvestre said the pandemic has shone a light on the need to address longstanding problems. For example, she said, a teacher shortage has been exacerbated, and it’s more evident that students need to graduate high school ready for college or the workforce.
“I think the school board needs a strong advocate to make sure these things are implemented and addressed, and that it’s done in the near future,” she said.
Silvestre, of Silver Spring, was first elected to an at-large seat in 2018, defeating Julie Reiley in the general election. Silvestre had not run for public office before.
Silvestre, unlike most of her colleagues, holds a full-time job outside of her duties on the Board of Education. She is the director of community engagement at Montgomery College.
Over the past four years, Silvestre said, she has learned to better manage balancing the board work with her job and family.
“I’m a quick learner, but it’s a huge balancing act,” Silvestre said. “So, an area I could improve is just really taking advantage of the knowledge I now have and putting that to use in the upcoming years if I am so lucky to be elected again. Also, really working with colleagues and coalescing around issues important to them and to the school system.”
As of Thursday night, Silvestre was the only person to have filed or announced their candidacy for any of the four school board seats available in the 2022 election.
Besides one at-large seat, three other seats are up for election — in District 5 (now held by Brenda Wolff), District 1 (now held by Judy Docca), and District 3.
The District 3 seat is vacant following the death in September of longtime board member Pat O’Neill. The school board has not yet appointed someone to finish her term.
There are five district seats on the board and two at-large. Candidates who run for a district seat live in that district. The entire county votes for all of the district and at-large seats.
The filing deadline for the primary election is Feb. 22.