Howard County Election Day

Board of Education candidate Ellen Flynn Giles stands outside Mount View Middle School. (Jen Rynda, Patuxent Homestead / November 6, 2012)

With all votes accounted for in Howard County, two incumbents and one first-time challenger took their places as winners of the Board of Education race.

At 1 a.m. Wednesday morning with all 111 precincts reporting, incumbent Janet Siddiqui took the top spot with 63,949 votes, far ahead of first-time candidate Ann De Lacy, who had 48,308 votes in second place. The other incumbent, Ellen Giles, had 47,704 votes.

Siddiqui said she was "very pleased and very humbled" by her sizable win.

"It's been a long campaign, but it's the children in Howard County, the parents and the community that won tonight," she said. "I'm going to continue to do my work on the board for the next four years, continue to look at ways to eliminate the achievement gap and move forward."

Giles said she was "grateful for the faith of people in Howard County," and promised to "continue to listen, and do my homework, and do the best for the kids in the county."

Both incumbents said they were excited to work with De Lacy, a long-time Howard County teacher and past president of the Howard County Education Association.

"She brings a wealth of experience in the county, and in the classroom, as well as the leadership within the union," Giles said. "That's a perspective we haven't necessarily had before, and I think we'll gain from it."

De Lacy said her win means that for "the first time in many years," the board has a former Howard County teacher as one of its members.

"It means ... they have someone who knows the system extremely well, from a broad perspective, and someone who's going to ask tough questions and expect honest answers," De Lacy said. "My whole goal is to ensure the Howard County public schools offer a world-class education to all of its students, and that our focus is no longer on test scores as the major barometer for determining how well our students are doing."

De Lacy said she would be asking for audits of the board's policies and school programs, to see what works and what doesn't "in regards to student achievement."

She said she would also be asking "tough questions of the County Council in respect to housing, and affordable housing, and its placement" in the county.

Meanwhile, Jackie Scott, who emerged early as a challenger to Giles and De Lacy, came in last with 41,334 votes. Bob Ballinger came in fourth with 44,571 votes, and David Gertler had 43,403 votes.

Still, at 12:30 a.m., Scott said that although she was disappointed, she had no regrets.

"I was so fortunate to have so many people believe in me. ... I worked hard and I will continue to work hard, and continue to work for the kids no matter what happens," she said.

When early voting results were posted 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, the leaders were the same: Siddiqui was leading the race with 14,627 votes. De Lacy was second with 11,289 votes, while Giles was in third with 11,190.

Early voting in Howard County ran Saturday, Oct. 27 through Friday, Nov. 2 — extended because of Superstorm Sandy, which caused two days of early voting to be canceled.

Earlier in on election day, with just a couple hours left to vote in the general election, candidates expressed optimism as they reflected on their campaigns.

"I think (voters) want to build on the success we've made," said Giles, as she greeted voters at Mount View Middle School late Tuesday afternoon. "They want to make sure our children are taken care of and their money is well spent, and that we're working for the future."

Giles, who has served on the board since 2006, said she was encouraged by voter turnout, and felt good about her chances of re-election.

Other candidates also said they felt good about their chances.

"I'm excited for tomorrow, and excited for our children," said first-time candidate Scott, adding that she was "really, really optimistic and totally energized" about the election.