Contrast in candidates shapes race for district four Board of Education seat

Election season is beginning to pick up steam, and in the Board of Education there is one race with an interesting contrast between candidates in Wicomico County.  There's a bit of everything in the race for the District Four seat, featuring three non-partisan candidates.

There's a former teacher with decades of experience in education inside and out of the classroom, one candidate who has been a public face in the Salisbury community for years, and another who is stepping up to lend a voice for his peers.

Seamus Benn, a senior at Bennett High, is hoping to take his voice from the classroom to the board later this year, running for the seat at just 17.  He says he can bring the voice of the youth to the leadership of the county's public schools.

"Wicomico County Board of Ed needs a youth perspective on the board, so that we can make decisions effecting students to the best that they can."

Benn is a member of Showing Up For Racial Justice, or SURJ.  While he didn't have an answer for every question we asked, he quickly identified his top priority.  Inclusiveness, especially for LGBTQ students.

He hopes his candidacy will inspire peers to also get involved in public office, as well.

"When we're all involved, when we're all talking, when we're all looking at the issues we can all get everyone's opinions in there and make the best decision for our communities and ourselves."

Ann Brittingham Suthowski threw her hat in the ring, partly because of her two opponents, saying she had never heard of either.

She had concerns the two running did not have sufficient knowledge of the problems within Wicomico County Public Schools.  With her experience living, teaching and volunteering in the school district, she says her experience is what is best for the public school students in the county.

Ann was a teacher in the Laurel School District for 31 years, following a one-year stint as a Wicomico teacher.   Following her career in Delaware, she has volunteered in the county public schools for the better part of a decade.

To Ann, Wicomico County schools can benefit from less standardized testing, or addition by subtraction.

"If you have to take time out to teach the objectives of the test, then you're taking time out from your curriculum."

David Plotts, with the Salisbury Parks and Recreation committee since 2013, rounds out the trio of hopefuls.

Plotts is an advocate for universal pre-kindergarten, asserting high quality universal pre-k for three- and four-year-olds could help insure that children are prepared for kindergarten.

He also highlights creating incentives to attract new teachers to the area through partnerships with city and county governments to address the, 'critical shortage of teachers.'

Plotts also hits on graduation rates, something Wicomico County lags behind the state in, citing Parkside Career and Technology Education Program as a career-ready model.

Categories: Local News, Maryland