2017 | Schools

Two School Board Members Considering County Council Races

Smondrowski, Ortman-Fouse say they're focused on current roles but could consider change

Rebecca Smondrowski (left) and Jill Ortman-Fouse

Via Twitter

Two school board members say they’re open to entering the race for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council.

Both Rebecca Smondrowski and Jill Ortman-Fouse report that they’re concentrated on their current roles for the time being. But they aren’t ruling out a shift to a council post.

Smondrowski, who has served on the Montgomery County Board of Education since 2012, said she’s “strongly considering” a council run but hasn’t made up her mind.

“I’m very passionate about the job that I have now, but the county council is something I’m not, not taking a look at,” she said.

Her colleague, Ortman-Fouse, said people have encouraged her to run. However, her sights aren’t set on the 2018 election just yet, she said.

“I really appreciate and am humbled by all of the support and encouragement I’ve received to consider seeking other offices, so I’m weighing how I can best continue to expand opportunity and combat inequity in our county and state,” Ortman-Fouse said. “But we have a lot of important work in front of us and ahead right now in MCPS – and we are making good progress – so those challenges and opportunities remain my focus.”

The departures of term-limited council members – George Leventhal, Marc Elrich and Nancy Floreen – have created three at-large openings on the panel of nine.

The names of several potential at-large candidates have already started surfacing, including District 5 council member Tom Hucker, former attorney Bill Conway of Potomac and Germantown Gaithersburg Chamber of Commerce president Marilyn Balcombe.

If Smondrowski and Ortman-Fouse do run, they’d be following the footsteps of other former school board members.

Council member Nancy Navarro made the transition in 2009, and former school board member Christopher Barclay campaigned for a council seat three years ago, but came up short.

Smondrowski said if she does jump in, she’d bring a strong education focus to the council race because of her background with the school system.

She started her second four-year term last year and has been active as an MCPS parent, serving on the board of directors for the Montgomery County Council of PTAs. She was also a legislative aide for Maryland Sen. Roger Manno (D-Silver Spring).

Ortman-Fouse was elected in 2014 to her first term on the school board. Before stepping into public office, she spent many years engaged in the county school system as a parent teacher association president, delegate for the MCCPTA and member of the MCPS Parent Advisory Council, according to her school board profile.