Harris, Dasgupta lead Board of Education at-large race

UPDATED: Harris, Dasgupta lead Board of Education at-large race

Austin in third; more results expected this week

| Published:

Lynne Harris and Sunil Dasgupta

Photo by Caitlynn Peetz

This story was updated at 1:30 a.m. June 3, 2020, to add new vote totals that were posted.

Lynne Harris and Sunil Dasgupta were leading a crowded field of candidates for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County school board after two rounds of results were released early Wednesday morning.

Initial results showed Harris, of Silver Spring, led all 13 candidates with 16,460 votes (28.1%), followed by Dasgupta with 10,594 (18.1%) votes.

Stephen Austin, of Bethesda, was third with 9,254 votes (15.8%)

The top two candidates from the primary will advance to the Nov. 3 general election.

At about 11:20 p.m., more than three hours after polls closed, the Montgomery County Board of Elections released the initial voting results, which included all ballots received through Monday.

At about 1:15 a.m., the Board of Elections released the results of in-person voting on Tuesday.

People could cast their ballots in person on Tuesday if they couldn’t vote by mail. Polls remained open for voters who were in line when the polls were supposed to have closed at 8 p.m.

Voters could mail in their ballot if it was postmarked by Tuesday. More results will be released later in the week as mailed ballots are received.

Official election results will not be certified until after the last ballots are received by the Board of Elections. The deadline for them to arrive is June 12.

Officials had counted 58,580 ballots in the at-large race as of early Wednesday morning.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the election was delayed two months and most voting was done through mail-in ballots. Some in-person polling locations were available on Tuesday.

The winner of the general election in November will replace Jeanette Dixon, who did not run for re-election.

There has been a heightened focus on the race, and greater tension, because of the controversy surrounding an ongoing countywide review of school boundaries.

Austin is credited with leading a movement challenging the validity of and motives behind the systemwide boundary analysis. He is the founder of the Facebook group Montgomery County MD Neighbors for Local Schools, which advocates for increased transparency from the school district and, at times, has been the focus of tense debates throughout the county.

Harris and Dasgupta, of Aspen Hill, have both pledged their full support for the boundary analysis.

The candidates and their supporters have clashed with opposing factions on social media.

The eight-person school board oversees the country’s 13th largest school system, with approximately 166,000 students. It manages a $2.8 billion operating budget and a $1.8 billion capital budget.

Other at-large school board candidates and their vote totals, as of 1:30 a.m. Wednesday:
• Paul Geller, 4,682 by mail; 201 in person; 4,883 total (8.3%)

• Jay Guan, 3,212 by mail; 576 in person; 3,788 total (6.5%)
• Mitra Ahadpour, 3,246 by mail; 264 in person; 3,510 total (6%)
• Anil Chaudhry, 1,862 by mail; 142 in person; 2,004 total (3.4%)
• Dalbin Osorio, 1,483 by mail; 240 in person; 1,723 total (2.9%)
• Pavel Sukhobok, 1,603 by mail; 101 in person; 1,704 total (2.9%)
• Darwin Romero, 1,436 by mail; 162 in person; 1,598 total (2.7%)
• Cameron Rhode, 1,035 by mail; 198 in person; 1,233 total (2.1%)
• Collins Odongo, 903 by mail; 181 in person; 1,084 total (1.9%)
• Lumpoange Thomas, 679 by mail; 66 in person; 745 total (1.3%)

In the District 4 race, incumbent Shebra Evans leads with 31,347 votes. Steve Solomon follows with 20,738 votes. Ehren Park Reynolds is also on the ballot — and has received 4,705 votes — but has withdrawn from the race, and Evans and Solomon are expected to advance to the general election.

There is no primary election for the District 2 race because there are only two candidates: incumbent Rebecca Smondrowski and challenger Michael Fryar.

Poll workers in Gaithersburg and Silver Spring early Tuesday afternoon said they had seen a steady stream of voters coming to vote in person, but that there hadn’t been any wait times to get into the polls.

By 7 p.m., the Montgomery County Board of Elections website was reporting a 70-minute wait time in Silver Spring and a 30-minute wait in Gaithersburg.

At 9 p.m., an hour after polls closed, voters in the line at the Silver Spring Civic Center were posting photos on social media, still showing a line of voters waiting to cast their ballots. People who were in line at 8 p.m. were allowed to stay in line to vote.

Many voters in Silver Spring waited more than two hours to cast their ballots on Tuesday night. Montgomery County Council Member Tom Hucker, who was at the polling site, wrote in a text message to Bethesda Beat that the last voters entered the polls at about 10:30 p.m. after standing in line for a while.

“Nobody in America should have to wait two-and-a-half hours to vote,” Hucker said in a video he posted to Twitter Tuesday night. “That’s crazy and we need to do a better job and be better prepared, regardless of the emergency we’re facing, during the next election.”

There were two other in-person voting sites in the county: the Germantown Recreation Center and the Marilyn J. Praisner Recreation Center in Burtonsville.

There were 4,244 in-person ballots cast in the at-large school board election. 

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

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