Sunday, October 23, 2016

Nays and Yays: Board of Ed Elections in Cecil County

I had hoped that the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the primary election season had died down (at least locally), but no. With a little more than two weeks to go, we’ve got attention-seeking behavior and nastiness--and I’m not even talking about the presidential race: these absurdities have now become characteristic of our board of education elections, too. Essentially, we can divide the candidates in the races for Districts 1 and 2 into two categories: The Nays and the Yays.  

The Nays

District 1: Kevin Emmerich
In the Chesapeake City district, Kevin Emmerich began his campaign by running together with Ron Lobos. The two advertised themselves during the primary season as the “conservative slatecandidates. In fact, in addition to some campaign funding from his own money, Emmerich received an unspecified level of campaign funding from the Conservative Education Slate political action committee (PAC), the amount of which is not publicly disclosed. (To research campaign finance disclosures, search candidates and PACs here. )

In discussing their candidacies on the Cecil County Campaign for Liberty’s Facebook page last winter, Lobos indicated that he was the primary mover in that relationship but that he needed Emmerich “just to second” his motions on the Board of Education to bring about the changes he wants:
When Lobos lost the District 2 primary race by such a large margin (Jim Fazzino received more than twice the votes that Lobos did, and Erin Doordan received nearly twice the votes that Lobos did), one wondered whether Emmerich was still enthusiastic about the prospect of public office without Lobos at his side to guide his thinking.

Emmerich and Bill Manlove are the only two candidates running for the District 1 seat, so they did not need a primary run-off. Thus, their campaigns have been largely quiet until recent weeks. The “loudest” move that Emmerich made during primary season was, however, one of its ugliest moments. He is the candidate who originally posted the “Stool Bus” photo on Ron Lobos’ publicly accessible Facebook page:
That photo created a great deal of understandable public outrage and shed considerable light on Emmerich’s and Lobos’ judgment and on their cynical motives in running for public office. Their idea of a joke was not funny to parents, educators, and other decent human beings who do not view children as excrement.

When voting for the District 1 seat (and remember--no matter where you live in Cecil County, we ALL get to vote for ALL of the seats), ask yourself,

“Do I want a man on the Board of Education who does not respect the nonpartisan nature of the job, who takes his marching orders from someone who lost the primary election, and who does not care about children and or education?” If the answer to this question is "No," vote for Bill Manlove.

District 2: Ron Lobos
Ron Lobos came in third in the District 2 primary with 18% of the vote, but for some reason, as of October 20 (yes, just a few days ago), he has decided to run as a write-in candidate. Perhaps he thought primary voters were just playing hard to get?

I went into depth on Mr. Lobos’ beliefs back during the primary season (click here and here). From the start of that season, Lobos and his supporters have been a vicious personal attack machine. In advocating for his bizarre stances on issues involving the school budget and the Common Core State Standards, he has attacked the school system, his fellow candidates, and even children by allowing the Stool Bus photo on his Facebook page. Not satisfied with Emmerich’s candidacy alone, he has decided at the 11th hour that he wants back in.

Here is Lobos’ Facebook post announcing his write-in intentions:
Note from this announcement that Lobos continues to claim that he is running as the conservative voice in the campaign, with a blatant disregard for the fact that the office is nonpartisan. If that weren’t disturbing enough, he describes Jim Fazzino as “left of left,” which I am sure was news to Jim given the party affiliation under which he has voted for many years now. If you’re going to violate the spirit and procedure of a nonpartisan race, Mr. Lobos, at least check your facts.

Speaking of disregarding facts, Lobos' first candidate post since filing as a write-in candidate shows yet another misunderstanding he has regarding the job of Board of Education member:
"Our" (presumably Lobos and Emmerich) "competition" (presumably Fazzino and Manlove) "supports federal control of our schools"? When has that topic ever come up? When did Fazzino or Manlove ever say or do anything indicating that they want federal control of public schools? Not once. This is a desperate final attempt to gain control of elected offices that Lobos and Emmerich should never have. One of Lobos' chief advisers, Mr. Vincent Sammons, posted this item on Jim Fazzino's campaign Facebook page on Friday, presumably attempting to goad Jim into voicing an affinity (that Jim does not have) for federal control of schools:
Spin doctoring is one thing; political operatives engage in that type of slanted analysis all the time. But to make this kind of blatantly false, outrageous statement in a last-minute bid for power is unethical and simply pathetic. Either the Lobos contingent genuinely does not understand the issues influencing public education, or they are hoping that you, the voter, don't understand them so that they can manipulate you into voting for them. Either way, that's unacceptable.

The fact that Jim is not “left of left” will not silence Lobos and Emmerich. With their mindset, unless you are right wing to the point of reactionary, unless you agree with them on every single issue, you cannot possibly be a “Republican” or a “conservative.” Their narrow worldview and chronic use of false information have no place at the helm of a government body that educates children in our society. All through the primary season, the voters weren’t buying what Lobos was selling. I hope they send the same message to Lobos (again) and Emmerich now.

The Yays

District 1: Bill Manlove
Mr. Manlove, a longtime public servant in Cecil County, seeks reelection in the Chesapeake City district. Mr. Manlove has an endearing willingness to cut the tension in difficult conversations with a humorous remark, and he is so gentlemanly in thought, word, and deed that even campaigning makes him uncomfortable. He would rather just do his job. Anyone who attends Board of Education meetings regularly knows that Mr. Manlove cares about kids. Period.

Mr. Manlove is a father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and public servant of the first order. He has engaged in no nastiness, and he has only campaigned on his record and concern for children. He knows how education works, and he has worked for years to make it better. He is the man for the job.

District 2: Jim Fazzino
In the Elkton district, parent Jim Fazzino seeks his first elected office. In the primary season (because three candidates were running for one seat in a nonpartisan race), a run-off election occurred among Fazzino, parent Erin Doordan, and Ron Lobos. The results of that election were as follows:
Source: Maryland Manual Online
Those results narrowed the field and pitted Fazzino against Doordan in the general election. Over the summer, Doordan withdrew from the race citing family concerns, and that change caused Fazzino to run unopposed.

Throughout his campaign, Jim has focused solely on issues affecting students and never once engaged in negative campaigning or personal attacks. Jim has respected the nonpartisan nature of Board of Education seats. To that end, Jim’s campaign has been funded solely by himself and community members, and he has not accepted any PAC money from any political party.

In his discussions with system teachers, administrators, and leadership, Jim has asked tough questions about the concerns facing our schools, and he has continued to campaign tirelessly even after he knew he was running unopposed. (Go ahead: Ask him how many schools he has visited.) His behavior as a candidate speaks volumes about the kind of person he is and whose agenda he will serve on the board of education. He is all about the kids, and he has shown that time and again.

Many voters are frustrated by this year’s presidential race because they find the major candidates to be objectionable. In our local Board of Education races, we do not have that same problem: We have Bill Manlove and Jim Fazzino. Vote for thoughtful, rational people who believe in education, family, and community; who conduct themselves like the gentlemen they are; and who never stoop to personal attacks but rather campaign with ideas and facts.

Save the future!

Vote Manlove.

Vote Fazzino.

Kids are counting on you.  

* * *
Full Disclosure: Any post about the current election season will reiterate my earlier disclosure: I support Jim Fazzino for the Elkton seat on Cecil County Board of Education, and my husband is his campaign treasurer. I additionally support Bill Manlove for the Chesapeake City seat on the Board of Education. As you make choices this campaign season, evaluate everyone’s agenda in this situation and determine for yourselves who is giving you factual information and whom you believe to be trustworthy.

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