Updated: As deadline passes, 18 candidates have filed for school board race
13 candidates seeking one at-large seat
At the deadline Friday, 18 people had filed as candidates for this year’s Montgomery County Board of Education election. All three races are contested and 13 people filed for the open at-large seat. The filing deadline was 9 p.m. Friday.
There are three seats open on the school board in this election — at-large, District 2 and District 4. District 2 incumbent Rebecca Smondrowski and District 4 incumbent Shebra Evans filed for re-election. At-large board member Jeanette Dixon announced in December she would not seek re-election.
School board members receive a $25,000 annual salary, aside from the board president, who receives $29,000.
The primary election is April 28, and the general election is Nov. 3. A primary will be held for the at-large and District 4 races, since both have more than twice as many candidates as available seats. The same was not true in District 2; both candidates will advance to the general election.
The candidates for the school board race are:
- Mitra Ahadpour, of Potomac. Ahadpour is a primary care physician whose platform includes an emphasis on students’ social, physical and mental well-being, improving student engagement, increasing transparency and providing “innovative professional development opportunities for teachers,” according to her Facebook page.
- Stephen Austin, of Bethesda. Austin, who works in finance, is the founder of the Facebook group Montgomery County MD Neighbors for Local Schools. It has more than 7,000 members, largely comprised of Montgomery County residents who oppose long bus rides for students to and from school and who advocate for transparency from the school board and MCPS. Along with a push for transparency, Austin says his platform will emphasize fiscal responsibility. Austin has two children in MCPS.
- Anil Chaudhry, of Potomac. Chaudhry’s candidate website says his platform will focus on community engagement in decision-making and ensuring MCPS leadership has resources to “improve educational outcomes for all children in a fiscally responsible and sustainable way.” Chaudhry has three children in MCPS and previously served in the United States Army.
- Sunil Dasgupta, of Silver Spring. Dasgupta is the program director for the political science program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County at The Universities at Shady Grove. He is chair of the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Association’s Health and Wellness Committee. His platform focuses on strengthening bonds between teachers and students, hiring more teachers, staff and counselors and investing in student and staff members’ health and safety. Dasgupta has three children in MCPS.
- Paul Geller, of Olney. Geller is a community activist who has served as president and vice president of the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations. Geller’s candidate website says he will push for more leniency for students in crowded schools to transfer to schools with more space, less testing and more efficient and innovative school renovations. He also wants more schools to have solar panels.
- Jay Guan, of Clarksburg. Guan is an aerospace engineer whose campaign includes advocating for more access to science, technology, engineering, arts and math curriculum (STEAM), strengthening community bonds and family engagement, and strengthening MCPS transparency and accountability. Guan has a 4-year-old child.
- Lynne Harris, of Silver Spring. Harris is a former president of the MCCPTA. Her aim, if elected, would be to elevate the student voice in Montgomery County Public Schools’ decision-making processes, she said in a recent interview.
- Collins Odongo, of Burtonsville. Odongo does not list a candidate website or social media pages. He has served as a cluster coordinator in Paint Branch for the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations.
- Cameron Rhode, of Gaithersburg. Rhode is a 2012 Poolesville High School graduate who says he is committed to listening to and representing the voices of the community and will focus on improving students’ physical and mental health.
- Pavel Sukhobok, of Rockville. Sukhobok’s candidacy website says he wants to “get politics out of education” and “bring common sense back in.” If elected, he would want to review MCPS grading policies, improve curriculum and test all students at a young age for “learning differences,” according to his website. He also says redistricting “is not the answer” to solve crowding problems and increase diversity.
- Lumpoange Thomas, of Garrett Park. Thomas does not list a candidate website or social media pages.
- Dalbin Osorio, of Gaithersburg. Osorio’s website says he is a social worker who aims to retain and promote quality teachers, expand access to alternative programs at the high school level and reduce the achievement gap.
- Darwin Romero, of Silver Spring. The candidate website listed for Romero did not work as of Friday afternoon. Romero ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Montgomery County Council in 2018. At the time, he said he was a construction manager.
District 2 candidates:
- Michael Fryar, of Gaithersburg. Fryar, an attorney and former elementary school teacher, said in a recent interview that his platform will include his position that all students should attend their neighborhood schools. He also wants to figure out “why young men are no longer choosing college as an option and what we can do to stop that trend” and addressing issues “across the board” regarding gender, gender identity and mental health problems. Fryar has two children at Fields Road Elementary School.
- Rebecca Smondrowski, of Gaithersburg. Smondrowski is the incumbent in the District 2 race. She has been on the school board since 2012. She is chair of the board’s Special Populations Committee and a member of the Policy Management Committee. She is also a member of the Communication and Stakeholder Engagement Committee. Prior to joining the board, Smondrowski served as the legislative aide for then-state Sen. Roger Manno and was an active member of local and county parent-teacher associations.
District 4 candidates:
- Shebra Evans, Silver Spring. Evans is the incumbent in the District 4 race and the current board president. Evans was elected in 2016 and is a member of the board’s Strategic Planning Committee. She is a former financial analyst. Evans has two daughters in MCPS.
- Ehren Park Reynolds, of Silver Spring. Park Reynolds does not list a candidate website or social media pages.
- Steve Solomon, of Rockville. Solomon, a local radio show host, originally filed as a candidate in the at-large race, but switched to District 4 as the at-large field became more saturated. His website lists priorities ranging from revising the school district’s policy on snow days to “keeping schools local” and ensuring all schools have basic services such as heat and functioning equipment.