Should the Democratic Central Committee Endorse School Board Candidates?

Tommi Makila wrote the following letter urging the Democratic Central Committee not to endorse specific Board of Education candidates in the upcoming elections.

July 17, 2016

TO: Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee

RE: Board of Education election endorsements

Dear Central Committee Members:

I am a Democratic community activist who is closely involved in the Prince George’s County Public Schools. I have served on the PTSA board of my child’s school for five years. I have also served for two years as the legislative chair of the Prince George’s County PTA Council, and during that time I have also served on the Maryland PTA legislative committee. I am a member of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools and a founding member of the Alliance for Nonpartisan School Board Elections. I am writing this letter, however, as a concerned parent and individual community activist.

I am writing to you to urge that the Democratic Central Committee not make any endorsements in the November 2016 Prince George’s County Board of Education elections. As the Central Committee makes its decision about potential endorsements in BOE races, I would like you to keep the following issues in mind:

1. By Maryland law, school board elections are to be nonpartisan. I have a hard time coming up with anything else that could be as much against the spirit of this law than the central committee of one of the major parties making endorsements in these races.

2. In a down ballot race such as a BOE election, a Democratic Central Committee endorsement and its accompanying significant financial benefit in the form of the Democratic sample ballot is nearly certain to be decisive. In a down ballot race, it is virtually impossible for any opponent to garner enough financial resources to match the Democratic Party resources. I want us voters to decide the race based on the ideas the candidates present to us. I don’t want the Central Committee with its significant financial resources to make the decision for us voters.

3. When a BOE member gets elected thanks to the Democratic Party sample ballot, the BOE member owes his/her seat to the party establishment. Thus, the BOE member is likely to become more accountable to the party establishment than to us voters. This is not good for us residents or students in our schools.

4. Knowing the voter registration numbers for the two major parties in our county, it is highly likely that by making endorsements in the November BOE elections, the Democratic Central Committee would be picking one Democratic candidate over another Democratic candidate. Since the Democratic Central Committee does not choose one Democrat over another by making endorsements in the primary elections, it would seem inconsistent for the Central Committee to do so in the November BOE elections.

Thank you for your consideration of my views on this matter, and thank you for your public service.

Sincerely,

Tommi Makila

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