Voting is crucial in primaries, here’s why

Posted on April 02, 19100 at 22:02:23:

Voting is crucial in primaries, here’s why
By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson

All of the political news -- at least in the Washington area of late – has been about the presidential election. McCain versus Bush. Or Gore vs. Bradley. To a lesser extent, the media has concentrated on the race to control Congress. The Democrats or the Republicans. As far as the presidential race goes, we will pretty much know who the Democrat and Republican nominees will be on March 7, the Super Tuesday primary that includes Maryland.

But the number of delegates that come out of Maryland will not be nearly as many as those chosen in highly populated states such as California and New York which hold their primaries the same day.

Because of California and New York’s potency in the primaries, voters in Maryland may just think there is no reason to vote in the primary. But for Southern Marylanders, it is important you get out and vote. Here’s why: Voters will begin the process of electing members of the school board. This is arguably the most important board in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties besides the county commissioners.

School board elections are so important, regardless of whether you have children in school. The BOEs in all three Southern Maryland counties set educational policies for our schools, prepare the budget to run our schools and appoint the school superintendent, who is actually the CEO of the public school system.

In Calvert, more than 46.22 percent of the county’s operating budget goes towards BOE spending.

In Charles, 50.1 percent of the county’s operating budget goes toward BOE spending.

In St. Mary’s, 54. 8 percent of the county’s operating budget goes to the BOE spending.

I’m not so sure I’d like to have the kind of fiscal responsibility Calvert Superintendent Dr. Jim Hook, Charles Superintendent Jim Richmond and St. Mary’s County Superintendent Dr. Patricia Richardson face every day.

Some of the most incendiary issues in politics are school or education-related issues. The three school boards in Southern Maryland all face difficult choices during their terms.

I’d say that’s a compelling enough reason to take the school board race seriously. With the political ads and letters of support in the local papers supporting various candidates for the BOEs of each county.

The main purpose of primary elections is to reduce the number of Democratic or Republican candidates running for various offices to two; one of whom will then be elected in the general election. But the school board is non-partisan. The primary election though will still reduce candidates.

In 1996, Calvert and St. Mary’s adopted an elected school board for the first time. Before, school board members were appointed. Charles has had an elected school board since 1970.

In this year’s primary, there are competitive school board races in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s.

In St. Mary’s, a member of each of the county’s four districts is elected from that district. A fifth member is chosen at large. This year, there is a competitive primary in the at-large race where there are three candidates running -- Todd B. Morgan, Cathy Allen and Elizabeth Reeves. Competitive races in November in St. Mary’s include the Second School District race between Stephen Kracinovich and Dennis Jack Hubscher. Incumbent Mary Washington is running unopposed in the Fourth School District.

In Calvert, there is a board of five members, one from each election district and two from the county at large. Although all five members elected in November 1996 took office on January 1, 1997, two at large members are serving six-year terms and the others are ending the four-year terms to which they were elected.

In Charles, eight candidates are running for three spots -- Wayne Cooper, Deran Eaton, Mary L. Haff, Howard Mark Haft, Edward Pinchback Holland III, Kathy Levanduski, Michael Lukas and Al Smith.

Confused? That’s understandable. In Calvert, no one filed to run against incumbent Third District BOE member Mary Billings. So, all she needs is one vote in the November general election. One person, Peter V. Cucinotta, Jr., filed against incumbent Robert Gray in the Second District, so they will run against each other in November.

In Calvert’s First District, present board member Ruth Keimig, chose not to run again. Three people, Robert Church, Eugene “Gene” Karol and Gail Bennett-Hoeruf, have filed for that seat. Since the number of candidates must be reduced to two for the general election, this primary will include only those running for the First District seat.

So, even if you don’t have children in schools, don’t think you shouldn’t have an interest in this primary election. If you do have children in school, then you most definitely should exercise your right to vote. Let’s show our young people that we do care -- we care enough to vote.

I implore you to carefully consider your vote very carefully in the primary in March and in the General Election in November. Your vote is important to our children’s future.

Return To Senator Dyson Newsletter