School board pick is made

Janet Siddiqui, who barely missed out on a Howard County Board of Education seat in November's general election, has been selected by County Executive Ken Ulman to fill a vacant school board seat.

Siddiqui, a 45-year-old pediatrician from Clarksville, was the sixth-highest vote-getter in the election, finishing 1,149 votes behind Ellen Flynn Giles. The top five were elected to the board.


"I really think highly of Janet and the Siddiqui family," Ulman said. "I got to know them well. I was really impressed with her dedication to children."

Siddiqui must be approved by the County Council, which will vote on Ulman's decision in March. Ulman confirmed that if the council approves Siddiqui, she could join the panel as soon as March 8.


Siddiqui will replace Mary Kay Sigaty, who left her position early when she won a County Council seat in November.

Ulman said he chose Siddiqui because she was the best candidate and he was listening "to the voice of Howard County voters."

He added: "She ran for election and was the next-highest vote getter. This selection will reflect the will of the people."

Ulman had said recently that ethnicity would factor into his decision and that a majority of the candidates on his "short list" of possible appointees were minorities. In the end, he chose Siddiqui, who is white.

"While diversity is a major factor, and is a major factor in my values, I think she brings diversity to the table - diversity of thought, diversity of experience as a pediatrician," Ulman said.

Ulman would not disclose the number of people he considered for the position or their identities.

"I had a number of excellent candidates, and I selected one of those excellent candidates," Ulman said. "I think she will do a great job on the Board of Education."

During the school board campaign, Siddiqui said that her work background distinguished her from her opponents.


Siddiqui, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, said before the primary election in September that it was key to understand "both the physical and the cognitive" needs of a child.

She is a proponent of enrichment programs. Extracurricular programs and guidance, especially during the middle-school years, are essential for children to excel, she said.

Siddiqui, who has lived in Howard County for 20 years with her husband, Nayab, has been a member of the PTA, the school system's Anti-Bullying Task Force and the Community Advisory Council. She also was appointed by the governor in October 2005 to the Patuxent River Commission.

Siddiqui has worked for Johns Hopkins Community Physicians for 11 years and is a part-time faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In addition, she volunteers at a free health clinic in Montgomery County.

Siddiqui has three children. One son attends Clarksville Middle School, another attends Atholton High School. Her daughter is a recent Atholton graduate.

Siddiqui earned a bachelor's degree in biology from State University of New York at Buffalo. She attended Eastern Virginia Medical School and completed her residency in pediatrics at Georgetown University Medical Center.


Ulman's announcement was met with approval by several county officials, including former Board of Education Chairman and current County Council member Courtney Watson.

"I think Janet will be an outstanding board member," Watson said. "She brings a discipline to the board in terms of her medical background that is not currently on the board."

The current board chairman, Diane Mikulis, also said she is pleased with the nomination of Siddiqui.

"I think Janet will be a very strong board member," Mikulis said. "She demonstrated her commitment to the position by running. By coming in sixth place, the public indicated how they felt about her."