A Clarksburg man has entered the race for a seat on the Montgomery County school board, hoping to funnel resources to high-needs schools and families and help the school district “get back to basics.”

Following a tumultuous return from winter break, MCPS needs to refocus on ensuring “basic services are running as they should,” said Jay Guan, who filed as a candidate in District 1 on Wednesday.

Then, he would focus on ensuring all students have access to science, technology, engineering, arts and math curriculum (STEAM).

Guan is an aerospace engineer and the father of an elementary school student in MCPS.
He ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat on the school board in 2020.

Guan holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of California, San Diego. He holds a master’s degree in the same field from Johns Hopkins University. He is active in the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations, Guan said.

On the home page of his campaign website, Guan says he grew up in a “poor immigrant family” and “experienced the opportunity gap and discrimination first hand.”

“This gives me a unique perspective on how to address the opportunity gap. Public education was my path to social mobility. I am deeply grateful for it,” the website says. “Part of the reason I am running for the Board of Education is to ensure that this upwardly mobile path will still be here for our children and grandchildren.”

In an interview on Thursday, Guan said his perspective as the parent of a young MCPS student is unique and beneficial.

“I think the voice that has been missing (from the board) is that everyday parent,” Guan said. “And having a first-grader, I’m very invested personally in MCPS’ future. To put it bluntly: I have collateral because if we screw up, my kid bears the brunt of it.”

Guan’s website says he would work to expand access to MCPS’ virtual academy, provide “clarity on how various factors are considered when schools are shifted to virtual,” and make data easier to access.

He would also prioritize communication and adding more after-school opportunities and early childhood education programs at “high-needs” schools.

Guan is the only candidate to file for the District 1 seat. The District 1 incumbent, Judy Docca, has not indicated if she will seek re-election.

The District 3 and District 5 seats and an at-large seat are also on the ballot this year.

The District 3 seat was held by Pat O’Neill until her death in September. Scott Joftus, a Bethesda education consultant, was appointed to serve the remainder of her term. He has filed for a full term. He will be challenged by Julie Yang, an MCPS employee from Potomac.

The at-large seat is held by Karla Silvestre, who has filed for re-election. Nobody else has filed.

Nobody has filed for the District 5 seat, but incumbent Brenda Wolff recently told Bethesda Beat that she plans to run for re-election.

The filing deadline is Feb 22. The primary will be on June 28 and the general election on Nov. 8.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com