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Our View: Thumbs up to higher voter turnout, Teacher of the Year; thumbs down to alleged racial slurs | COMMENTARY

THUMBS UP: We have been heartened to see that turnout for the seven municipal elections held in Carroll County this month has been up, significantly so in several cases. While the percentage of the 12,000 or so registered voters in Westminster who came out Tuesday wasn’t particularly high, it was a major step forward as 1,619 ballots were cast. Two years ago that number was 686 and 1,619 was a 61% increase over 2017, the last time Westminster voted for a mayor. The last mayoral race in New Windsor prompted just 33 citizens to do their civic duty. In fairness, the mayor and two councilmembers were running unopposed. With contested mayoral and council elections this year, 355 out of 1,164 registered voters turned out. Union Bridge’s Town Council election drew 105 voters, a nice increase over the 86 from four years ago. Tuesday’s elections followed the previous week’s elections in which Sykesville saw a record turnout of more than 900 voters and Mount Airy had an even larger turnout than Westminster, with 1,621 ballots cast. We’re glad more people are participating in the process. Carroll’s final municipal election is for Town Council in Manchester on Tuesday. While only two candidates registered before the deadline, write-in campaigns are ongoing and the cliche “every vote counts” will never be truer.

THUMBS UP: Coming as it does at the end of a pandemic-marred year in which teachers faced criticism from some, Carroll County Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year seems to be not only the perfect antidote to any thinking that educators didn’t want to do their jobs as well a most deserving choice. Dawne Dill, an English teacher at Century High School, was named the winner at Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting. “I think the public has this perception that maybe we don’t love our job or don’t love students enough,” she told us, noting that’s why teachers do the job in the first place. Dill, an Indiana native who has lived in Maryland since 2003 and Carroll since 2010, said part of the reason she and her husband came to Carroll was so her kids could attend Carroll County Public Schools, calling the system amazing, with hard-working and caring students and a supportive staff. Last year’s Teacher of the Year, Jena Ehmann, was part of the committee that chose Dill and noted Dill’s passion. “You can just tell this is a field that she is truly committed to,” Ehmann told us. In the essay Dill wrote during the selection process, she noted teachers who inspired her. Now, she’s clearly doing the same. Said Century Principal Brian Booz: “She always has this level of optimism and excitement and really just high energy that is infectious.”

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THUMBS DOWN: CCPS acknowledged Tuesday it was investigating whether members of the Francis Scott Key boys lacrosse team directed racial slurs toward a member of Manchester Valley’s team during a game. It was a disturbing accusation and Superintendent Steve Lockard denounced the alleged behavior. “It needs to stop permanently,” Lockard told us. “I’m tired of saying it’s not going to be tolerated. It’s not.” Lockard and Michael Duffy, the county’s athletic director, commended the Manchester Valley player for speaking out and referred to a social media post attributed to him that read, in part, “Every time I made a good play someone would call me the N word.” These are serious allegations and the investigation must determine their veracity. If the allegations are found to be true, not only should any player who used a racial slur be removed from the team and required to receive education about why what they did was wrong, the team should also face sanctions. And if any adults involved in the game are found to have known and failed to act, those adults should never be involved in another CCPS sporting event. Also, CCPS needs to make all disciplinary action taken very public. No, they can’t name names. But every student, every employee, every member of the community needs to know what results from this investigation if CCPS truly wants to show it won’t tolerate his type of behavior.

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