Arthur Kaff, left, and Rachel Gauthier are seeking the Harford County Board of Education seat represented county council District E in the Nov. 4 general election. The disrict covers greater Aberdeen, Churchville and Fountain Green east of Bel Air.
Arthur Kaff, left, and Rachel Gauthier are seeking the Harford County Board of Education seat represented county council District E in the Nov. 4 general election. The disrict covers greater Aberdeen, Churchville and Fountain Green east of Bel Air. (The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

In explaining why voters should pick them, the two candidates for the District E seat on the Harford County Board of Education point to their experiences in education, life and as parents of Harford public schools students.

Rachel Gauthier and Arthur Kaff, both residents of the Bel Air area, face each other in the Nov. 4 general election, hoping to become the first person elected to represent the district which covers greater Aberdeen, Churchville and the Fountain Green area east of Bel Air.

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Kaff, who was appointed an at-large member of the board in 2012, and Gauthier were the top two vote getters among four candidates for the District E seat in the June primary election.

Kaff, 50, a Harford County resident for 14 years, has a child at C. Milton Wright High School and another at Southampton Middle. His oldest graduated from C. Milton Wright in 2013.

"I really want to make sure that my own children and all the children in Harford County get the best education possible," he said.

In addition to his school board service, Kaff said he has been involved in the PTAs at his children's schools.

"The main reason why I'm running now is because I want to make our schools the best in Maryland," he said.

Kaff is a civilian attorney with the Department of the Army, and a colonel with the Army Reserve. Kaff stressed that his comments for the campaign are not endorsed by the Department of Defense or the Army.

"I am experienced, and it is very important for District E to have someone with experience at this critical juncture," Kaff said.

He cited his experience of almost two years on the board, such as working on budgets, selecting a new superintendent and advocacy for capital improvements at schools in the district, as well as increasing teacher salaries and keeping classes small.

"I want to continue to be a strong advocate for athletics and student activities," he said.

Kaff also noted his experience as a leader in the Army Reserve.

"That experience has given me unique leadership skills and an ability to collaborate and work together," he said.

Gauthier, 42, is a counselor at Stemmers Run Middle School in Baltimore County. Her two children attend Prospect Mill Elementary School. She is a member of the Prospect Mill PTA.

"I believe in advocating for kids, and I believe in speaking out for people who can't speak for themselves," she said, adding: "I believe that the teachers and students in Harford County need an advocate who has a working knowledge of education."

Gauthier also noted that children "are kind of voiceless" unless their parents speak up for them.

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"Not all parents know how or feel like they can, or [they] feel like they don't have the power, but they all do," she explained.

Gauthier also highlighted her experience of coming from a family of educators.

"I'm not afraid to ask the hard questions," she said. "I'm not afraid to dig deeper and look for the real reasons why things aren't working, and because I have an education background, I understand the direct impact that policies and procedures have on the classroom and our kids, and they are our kids."

Gauthier said Harford County students must be prepared to work in a global society.

"I think we need somebody who's not involved in politics, who's not part of the old boys' network, who's not a part of the 'once was,' somebody who's looking to the future and what needs to happen," she said.

Six of nine school board members are being elected for the first time this year, one from each county council district. The other three seats will continue to be filled by the governor. The board elections are non-partisan.

The six elected in November will be seated July 1, 2015.

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