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Prince George's Election Preview: School Board, Judges, Questions

Patch logo Patch 10/30/2020 Jacob Baumgart
a close up of a sign: Who is running for the Prince George's County Board of Education? What judges are up for election? What questions are on the ballot? Know before you vote. © Jenna Fisher/Patch Who is running for the Prince George's County Board of Education? What judges are up for election? What questions are on the ballot? Know before you vote.

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MD — Few people consider the down-ballot candidates until Election Day. Though these aren't the most flashy races and referendums, they still can leave a lasting impact on Prince George's County.

Take the Board of Education, for example. These board members will set school policies and distribute a $2.2 billion budget. Whether you are an involved parent or a concerned taxpayer, school board elections affect you.

Patch breaks down every Board of Education contest, judicial race and referendum in our Prince George's County election preview. Dive in and explore what's on the ballot in your town.

Board Of Education

Your school district determines who represents you on the Board of Education. Head to this website to see which district you live in.

District 1

Incumbent David H. Murray seeks a second term representing the first district. Before winning his 2016 election, Murray attend the University of Maryland Baltimore County where he earned a bachelor's degree in financial economics.

According to Ballotpedia, Murray is committed to parent engagement, innovative programs, special education and financial literacy. For more information on Murray, click here.

District 4

Unlike Murray, Bryan M. Swann faces a challenger. County Executive Angela Alsobrooks appointed Swann to the school board in January to fill a vacancy. Now, he seeks a full, four-year term.

Swann grew up in Prince George's County Public Schools and went on to serve in the Marine Corps. He also earned two master's degrees: one in public administration from Harvard University and another in business administration from the University of Maryland.

With White House experience under President Barack Obama, Swann is now a deputy director at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He has two sons in PGCPS.

Shayla Adams-Stafford hopes to unseat Swann. Adams-Stafford is the CEO and Founder of AdaptiveX, a company that sells teacher training software.

Her top priorities include building new schools, recruiting more educators and ending the school-to-prison pipeline. As an equity advocate, Adams-Stafford wants to rid schools of armed law enforcement, also known as school resource officers.

"With access to the nation's capital and growing technology sector I think we are perfectly positioned to be the best district in Maryland," Adams-Stafford said. "However, I am realizing there is much work to be done to truly make this district equitable for all students."

To learn more about Adams-Stafford and her work with nonprofits, click this link. More background on Swann is posted here.

District 5

The race in the fifth district is uncontested. Raaheela Ahmed is campaigning for her second term in office.

Ahmed first ran for the District 5 seat in 2012 as an 18-year-old. Though Ahmed didn't win her first bid, her second go-around was more successful. Since joining the board in 2016, Ahmed has focused on creating optimal learning environments.

"The way to accomplish that is a move towards a culture of kindness, respect and professionalism," Ahmed, now 27, said. "It is not something we are known for, but the best school districts are the ones that establish this kind of culture, from top down."

Read more Ahmed's full profile here.

District 7

The seventh district will send a fresh face to the board, as current member K. Alexander Wallace does not seek re-election. That opens the door for a race between Alexis Nicole Branch and Kenneth F. Harris II.

Branch, 22, is a master's student at Bowie State University. Last year, Branch graduated from Bennett College where she served on the school's Board of Trustees. Branch says her teaching experience and time as a trustee make her a quality pick for the Board of Education.

The candidate also advocates for a safe reopening of schools after coronavirus. Branch values student safety over a return to the familiar.

"Too many lives have been lost," Branch said. "Our children should not be the lab rats to see if its safe to get back to 'normal.'"

Harris also touts a long résumé. His campaign website says he has worked with NASA since he was 16, boasting involvement in the launches of five satellites.

On top of his scientific successes, Harris has made a name for himself as a keynote speaker. He is most known for his TEDx Talk on mentoring and networking.

If elected, Harris hopes to lead the way in school construction and renovation. He also wants to increase access to Pre-K, lower class sizes and raise teacher pay.

Click this link to read more about Harris. More information about Branch can be found here.

District 8

The final Board of Education race pits incumbent Edward Burroughs III against challenger Gary Lee Falls.

Burroughs has served on the board since his appointment in 2008. He was re-elected in 2010 at the age of 18, making him the youngest elected official in the state. Now 28, Burroughs is the vice-chair of the school board.

Falls accuses Burroughs of being a progressive with extreme policies. He urges Prince George's County students to reopen schools immediately.

Moreover, Falls wants to shift the discussion away from building new schools. He would rather build moral character and academic proficiency, which he says are more pressing problems.

As a Vietnam veteran and small business owner, Falls knows life can have its obstacles. That's why he wants schools to offer three free meals-per-day to all students.

Learn more about Falls' platform here. Head to this webpage for more information on Burroughs.

Judicial Branch

Prince George's County is in Circuit 7 of the Maryland Circuit Court and the Maryland Court of Appeals. Every Maryland voter is eligible to vote in the at-large race in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

Each candidate's name is linked to their campaign website. One judge does not have a campaign page, so Patch linked to his profile in the state's court system. Special instructions and circumstances are listed in parenthesis.

Judge in Circuit 7 of the Maryland Circuit Court (You Can Vote for up to Five Candidates):

Judge At-Large of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (Voting for His Continuance in Office):

Ballot Questions

The proposals are referendums that need voters' approval to become law. If adopted, these proposals would allow Prince George's County to fund several projects by selling bonds. Residents can vote for or against the following motions.

Question A (Bond Issue - Public Works and Transportation Facilities Bonds)

  • "AN ACT enabling the County to borrow money and issue bonds in an amount not exceeding $178,150,000 to finance the design, construction, reconstruction, extension, acquisition, improvement, enlargement, alteration, renovation, relocation, rehabilitation, or repair of, Public Works and Transportation Facilities (including roads and bridges, parking lots and maintenance facilities), including the acquisition and development of sites therefor, the architectural and engineering services incident thereto, and the acquisition and installation of necessary fixed permanent equipment therefor, as defined therein."

Question B (Bond Issue - Library Facilities Bonds):

  • "AN ACT enabling the County to borrow money and issue bonds in an amount not exceeding $28,829,000 to finance the design, construction, reconstruction, extension, acquisition, improvement, enlargement, alteration, renovation, relocation, rehabilitation or repair of Library Facilities, including the acquisition and development of sites therefore, the architectural and engineering services incident thereto, and the acquisition and installation of necessary fixed permanent equipment therefore, as defined therein."

Question C (Bond Issue - Public Safety Facilities Bonds):

  • "AN ACT enabling the County to borrow money and issue bonds in an amount not exceeding $44,477,000 to finance the design, construction, reconstruction, extension, acquisition, improvement, enlargement, alteration, renovation, relocation, rehabilitation, or repair of, Public Safety Facilities (including Fire Department Facilities), including the acquisition and development of sites therefor, the architectural and engineering services incident thereto, and the acquisition and installation of necessary fixed permanent equipment therefor, as defined therein."

Question D (Bond Issue - County Buildings Bonds):

  • "AN ACT enabling the County to borrow money and issue bonds in an amount not exceeding $133,000,000 to finance the design, construction, reconstruction, extension, acquisition, improvement, enlargement, alteration, renovation, relocation, rehabilitation or repair of County Buildings, including the acquisition and development of sites therefor, the architectural and engineering services incident thereto, and the acquisition and installation of necessary fixed permanent equipment therefor, as defined therein."

Question E (Bond Issue - Community College Facilities Bonds):

  • "AN ACT enabling the County to borrow money and issue bonds in an amount not exceeding $121,714,000 to finance the design, construction, reconstruction, extension, acquisition, improvement, enlargement, alteration, renovation, relocation, rehabilitation or repair of Community College Facilities, including the acquisition and development of sites therefor, the architectural and engineering services incident thereto, and the acquisition and installation of necessary fixed permanent equipment therefor; as defined therein."

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Have a story idea? Please contact me at jacob.baumgart@patch.com with any pitches, tips or questions. Follow me on Twitter @JacobBaumgart and on Facebook @JacobBaumgartJournalist to stay up-to-date with the latest Anne Arundel County and Prince George's County news.

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