Strategy pays off in Carroll school race

Top vote-getter says she'll focus on high standards, budget crisis

Election 2008

November 06, 2008|By Joe Burris | Joe Burris,joseph.burris@baltsun.com

While millions of Americans sat before TV sets on Tuesday night watching presidential election results, Jennifer Seidel was in her kitchen with a laptop, fixated on the Carroll County Board of Elections Web site.

The Mount Airy resident sought to know how she fared among three other candidates vying for two open spots on the county's school board, which meant she spent much of the evening repeatedly pressing the refresh button.

Around midnight, Seidel got the news: She placed first in balloting with 37 percent of the vote. Cynthia Foley, the board president, finished second with about 30 percent.

"This means a lot to me, as I have spent the last 15 years working in education and I care deeply for the interests of children," Seidel said yesterday.

Seidel, 37, said she chose to run for a seat on the board after she began attending meetings a year and a half ago "as a concerned parent and advocate for my own children." Along the way, she took exception to some of the board's decisions on use of funds for facilities and redistricting.

Her campaign strategy included a detailed Web site ( www.jenniferseidel.org) that outlined her involvement in education dating back to college.

Since moving to Maryland from Pennsylvania 15 years ago, Seidel has taught in Montgomery County schools, written classroom materials for Discovery Communications and served on the Mount Airy Schools Task Force. She has two children in the county school system.

Her victory on Tuesday mirrored her success in the February primary, where Seidel led the field by capturing 29 percent of the vote.

Seidel said she hopes to call attention to fiscal responsibility, handling the impending budget crisis and retaining the county's high standards in teaching as some instructors retire.

She praised the county for recently posting the best HSA results in the state, but added that there's still room for improvement.

"We've received feedback from the University of Maryland system and Carroll Community College that the vast majority of our students attending those schools need remedial math," said Seidel, who added that the board addressed the situation two weeks ago with changes to the secondary math curriculum. "It's a true disservice to send our students to colleges unprepared," she said.

Two other candidates fell short, including Jeffrey Morse, a former board member. Morse was attempting to return to the board after resigning this year amid an outcry over his using a racial slur during a visit to a school construction site.

(Top two elected)

100% of precincts reporting

Name ................................................ Vote .............. Pct.

Jennifer Seidel ............................ 39,547 .............. 37

Cynthia L. Foley* ........................ 31,824 .............. 30

Jeffrey Morse ............................... 30,067 ............. 28

Virginia Harrison* (write-in) ........ 5,353 ............... 5

*=incumbent

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