I earlier commented on the lack of incumbents at the early voting centers (with a few exceptions). On Election Day, word came back that the Board of Education incumbents were working the polls at Leisure World. While I sent my best two volunteers to Leisure World because of the high voter turnout there, I worked elsewhere. I can pretty much guarantee that the incumbents did not meet current MCPS families at Leisure World. Here's what they missed, both during the eight days of Early Voting as well as at other polls on Election Day:
- The partially blind woman who took Metro Access to vote. We talked about the school system and her years spent teaching children with special needs. The bus couldn't wait for her even though it only took 10 minutes for her to vote. She waited with us at the curb for another 30 minutes for her taxi, filled with such absolute positive energy and contagious optimism.
- The SEIU representative who had worked for MCPS for decades and who shared that she has bone marrow cancer. She went in to vote only to discover a mix-up with her sister had removed her from the voter roll. She was able to cast a provisional ballot but was upset that her likely last opportunity to vote was jeopardized.
- The gentleman who taught in MCPS for 8 years, became disgusted, and resigned. It was a lengthy one-sided conversation but when he brought up genetics as a determining factor for our students, my only thought was how did we allow him to stay in the classroom for as long as he did? Actually, who hired him?
- Hamza, another campaign worker. He explained to me the three different Muslim sects in Montgomery County and how they each use a different way to determine when Eid begins. When it comes to religious holidays, the most important thing is to ensure our teachers are well-informed and respectful of each student's observances.
- The conversations with so many families about the Common Core. I hope I enlightened many on the difference between standards and curriculum. I talked with one skeptical father, telling him that the "line in the sand" is control over our own curriculum. He turned to go vote and then stepped back to me to say "Thank you for the very thoughtful, nuanced explanation. You've got my vote."
- The conversations with so many about later start times. Besides the current MCPS families, I found it intriguing that so many older, empty-nesters were also advocating for later start times. No longer impacted themselves, they still found it atrocious that our teenagers were expected to arise early and be ready to learn. Experience yields wisdom obviously.
- The most touching for me: At around 7pm on Election Day, I was in a conversation with a friend of my opponent when an African American mother came up to me to shake my hand. She intently looked me in the eye when she told me she had voted for me and that she was counting on me to make the right changes. That was powerful.