The Anne Arundel County Board of Education voted Wednesday for Julie Hummer to continue as president and Terry Gilleland as vice president.
Both Hummer and Gilleland are up for election this November, but will stay on for at least two more years even if they lose to finish out their appointed terms. The board is transitioning from an appointed one to an elected one.
Hummer and Gilleland came in second in their primaries, which qualifies them for the general election where they’ll face tough competition. The school board elections are non-partisan so candidates do not have to register with a party.
A few school board members say they voted for Hummer and Gilleland to show confidence in their leadership and support their re-election campaigns. More stressed the importance of their leadership and experience during a transitional year.
“It is a really time consuming job, and Julie has gone above and beyond,” said Patricia Nalley, another member of the board.
She wants Hummer and Gilleland to win their elections so that they can guide the school board through its transition to an elected board.
“We need that history and leadership desperately,” Nalley said.
Maria Sasso also voted for both to show support for their leadership and campaigns, especially for Hummer.
“I don’t think anybody can step in her shoes,” she said.
Hummer got 38.4 percent of the vote and her opponent, Melissa Ellis, 43.7 percent of the vote.
“The voters are ready for change,” Ellis said.
Ellis, of Millersville, is a homeschool educator who is running on reduced testing for students so they can spend more time learning. She is also advocating for keeping experienced teachers in schools through higher pay.
Gilleland’s opponent, Dana Schallheim, is running to improve teacher pay and retention, changing school start times to give students more sleep and improving oversight of the school system.
She won 40.2 percent of the vote, and Gilleland won 35 percent of the vote in the primary election.
Gilleland said he expects higher Republican turnout in the general election, which he believes will be to his advantage. He recognizes that the race will be a tough one.
“I’m running like I’m 20 points behind,” he said. Similarly, Hummer hopes a higher turnout in the general will mean more votes for her.
Gilleland and Hummer voted for each other, but said their votes had nothing to do with the election.
“Terry and I work really well together…the board recognized that and trusted us,” Hummer said.
In the upcoming school years, school officials will oversee upgrades to the security infrastructure, construction to renovate and replace crowded elementary schools and a growing student body that require more space and teaching staff.
“The overcrowding remains the issue we hear the most about,” Gilleland said.