Six of 10 Baltimore County school board candidates are moving onto the Nov. 8 general election after the counting of mail-in primary ballots finished Friday afternoon.
Robin Harvey, a social worker, won about 63 percent in District 1 and will face Cory Koons, a scientist, in the fall race. Koons had nearly 20 percent and a third candidate, Baltimore City teacher George Roycroft III, had nearly 18 percent.
Two candidates in each district advanced to the Nov. 8 general election, when elections are held for seven seats on the 12-member board.
In District 2, Jane Lichter, a retired county schools educator, will advance after receiving 46 percent. She’ll face Rebecca Chesner, a retired Baltimore City school psychologist, who got 27 percent. In the last two weeks, Chesner was neck and neck with LaShaune Stitt, who leads an education consulting company. Stitt trailed Chesner by only 130 votes after the final ballot count. Nearly 20,000 votes were cast in the District 2 race.
Brenda Hatcher-Savoy, who described herself as a lifelong educator, maintained the lead in the District 4 race. She finished with 36 percent and will face law student Samay Singh Kindra, who got 25 percent. Retiree J. Michael Collins had nearly 23 percent and Autrese Thornton, a supervising service coordinator, received 15 percent.
Three advancing candidates — Harvey, Lichter and Kindra — were endorsed by County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, and the Education Support Professionals of Baltimore County.
For their part, Koons, Chesner and Collins were endorsed by the Children 1st PAC, a group that aligns with conservative views. All three had voiced concern about teaching certain topics, such as critical race theory, in the classroom.
“I’m really proud of being a first-time candidate and not having a political party behind me,” Koons said.
He noted that while he is a registered Republican and doesn’t believe third graders should be learning about gender issues, he isn’t looking at the role of a school board member through a political lens. The focus, he said, should be on student achievement and improving reading proficiency.
Harvey maintained a strong lead throughout the race. As the votes were being counted, she had maintained she was hopeful and optimistic about the results. On election day, she said voters appreciated her experience and background in school work. She said the current school board is contentious and it’s time to move forward and make sure the “system serves its purpose for our children.”
In District 2, Lichter also maintained the lead for the entire race. She had said she was excited with how early voting turned out but was eager to see the thousands of mail-in ballots counted, a process that couldn’t begin until two days after the July 19 state primary. Now, she’s celebrating.
She said in an interview that campaigning was new to her.
“I am an educator. I would rather be watching a roomful of kids read right now,” she said.
While campaigning, she said, she encountered many voters who didn’t know about the school board contests. This year’s school board election is only the second in county history. She said she informed voters who she was and that she wanted to focus on student achievement.
Chesner, her opponent, said her goal is to make a difference on the board. She said she has conservative values and recognized while campaigning many others do too.
“I’m welcoming everybody into my tent,” she said. “My goal is to make schools great again. To make our children learn in schools to be productive citizens. To make our schools safe again.”
Kindra said he was excited to make it to the general election and was glad to see that voters were receptive to his message about his vision: having a 21st century education and helping students succeed after graduation.
He said he and his team will take a small break and reassess their campaign plans for November.
The fractious board, which is weighing whether to seek a new superintendent next year, will look very different after the fall elections. Only two of the current members of the board are certain to be in their seats after the general election: Board Chair Julie Henn and Vice Chair Rod McMillion. Both are running unopposed in November. In District 6, Christina Pumphrey also has no fall opponent. Two candidates, Maggie Litz Domanowski and Diane Jean Young, will face off in the District 3 race.