Accusations of negative campaigning and intimidation from sitting Howard County Board of Education members have surfaced from one candidate, who says the "political nonsense" has led him to drop out of the race.
Corey Andrews announced in an email Monday that he would immediately suspend his campaign, saying that "I was not prepared to deal with corruption and abuse of power and am not interested in serving on a Board with people who use such unethical tactics."
Andrews was one of 13 candidates seeking four open seats on the seven-member board.
In his email, Andrews cited the resolution passed criticizing Cindy Vaillancourt, accusations that personal emails of board members have been breached by school officials, the alleged withholding of critical documents from some board members and attempts at physical intimidation by current board members as reasons for his decision.
In a phone interview Monday, Andrews elaborated on his announcement, saying that candidates risk their personal and professional reputations by going against incumbent members of the board.
He believes that it wasn't worth the risk for him to continue.
"When it comes to some things the Board of Education has done, it makes it seem like its not worth it," he said.
Andrews added that he has felt verbal intimidation from sitting board members during his campaign, although he declined to name names.
Ellen Flynn Giles, current chair of the Board of Education, believes there has been no "political shenanigans" with regard to the Vaillancourt resolution and in the campaign.
"I don't know of any physical intimidation," Giles said. "I certainly have never witnessed physical intimidation by anyone."
On May 8, the Board of Education approved a resolution, which stated it was disturbed and disappointed by the alleged actions of Vaillancourt with regard to an ongoing ethics investigation. Vaillancourt argued that this was "nasty politics" less than two months from the primary, where she is seeking re-election.
Andrews, who acknowledged that this was a difficult decision for him since it "has been my life" for the past few months, said he was not seeking attention by withdrawing from the race in this manner.
Instead, he said his intent was to notify the public since his name will appear on the primary election ballot June 24. The deadline for a candidate to withdraw and have their name removed from the ballot was Feb. 27.
"I was running to make a difference," he said. "I'm not interested in these games."
This was Andrews' second attempt at earning a seat on the board.
As a senior at Howard High School in 2012, Andrews launched his first campaign for the Howard County Board of Education. He finished with the 13th most votes out of 15 candidates, failing to advance through the primary.
Andrews' email follows:
I got into this race to make a difference for the Howard County Public School System. It is important that we protect this local treasure.
The fact is, there are forces preventing those who want to make a difference from doing so. The Howard County Board of Education exposed its corruption a few weeks ago when it abused its power and censured Cindy Vaillancourt in the attempt to smear her name before the upcoming election. Board members have had their personal emails breached by school system staff. Critical documents have been withheld from some Board members. There have even been attempts at physical intimidation by other Board members.
Several Board members, along with a select few candidates, have been coordinating an effort to control the Board and who is on it. Two candidates have resorted to extremely negative campaigning behind closed-doors.
This is not the first time I have run for this position. When I filed to run, I was prepared for a heated campaign. I was not prepared to deal with corruption and abuse of power and am not interested in serving on a Board with people who use such unethical tactics.
Therefore, I am immediately suspending by campaign for the Howard County Board of Education.
Sometimes, it feels like the "bad guys" are winning. The people of Howard County deserve better than this.