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U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen spoke at a news conference Monday in Baltimore about mail delays in the leadup to the November election.

Salisbury Daily Times

As November inches closer, a historic election has already started to take shape. 

In Maryland, questions of how to carry a safe presidential election during an ongoing public health crisis in COVID-19 led to heated debates. 

The State Board of Elections had finally settled on a format by August. All of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions will use “vote centers” for in-person voting, while eligible voters will be sent applications for mail-in ballots to encourage voting by mail.

By this week, many Marylanders have already received their ballots and begun casting their votes. 

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The biggest race on the ticket is, of course, who will be the next president and vice president of the United States. Republican incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will take on the Democratic ticket of former Vice President Joe Biden and VP-hopeful Kamala Harris. 

The election heavyweights already squared off in a contentious first debate Sep. 29, but much is still to come. 

Libertarian candidates Jo Jorgensen and Jeremy Spike Cohen; Howie Gresham Hawkins and Angela Walker of the Green Party; and Jerome M. Segal and John de Graaf of Bread and Roses will also be on the ballot in Maryland.

Presidential debate: Fact-checking Trump and Biden

MARYLAND: How do I vote in the presidential election? A guide for Marylanders

While the presidential race has captured quite the spectacle, there are some contested local and congressional races to keep an eye on as well. The Somerset County Board of Education has seats contested in Districts 2 and 4.

Delmarva Now presented candidates in contested races with a questionnaire — looking to allow our audience to learn more about their platforms and ideas. 

Their responses below are unedited, unless exceeding the word limit on any particular question, in which case it would be noted with ellipses. 

See who’s running:

Somerset Board of Education

DISTRICT 2

William “Billy” Walters

Age: 38

Occupation: Correctional Maintenance Officer Supervisor

Why are you running for office? 

I have two children that are students of Somerset County Public Schools.  I have a vested interest in not only their education but the public school system as a whole.  Since graduating from Washington High School in 2000, I have coached several sports teams for the county and continue to find ways to give back to the same school system who afforded me the same opportunities.

Top 3 issues? What is your stance on each, and how would you address it? 

  1. Safety and Security of the schools for students and staff. To date SCPS has done a great job making sure the schools in the county are safe.  However, the climate of our society is constantly evolving. It is imperative that the procedures and protocols evolve as society does. I would like the opportunity to partner with our local law enforcement agencies to consistently review current protocols that will enable us to keep our students and staff safe.
  2. Equity in the classroom. As one of the poorest counties in the State of Maryland, SCPS needs to provide the same opportunities to our students as students from the wealthier counties are being offered. I would be active in ensuring that our county provides our students with a variety of rigorous instruction, activities and programs to make certain our students are successful and able to compete with other students across the state. 
  3. Social and Emotional Learning and Support. As a coach for Somerset County Public Schools I have witnessed many players come to practice and games with a lot of stress, burden and trauma that they struggle to cope with. I believe it is imperative that more focus should be dedicated on student’s social and emotional well-being in order for those students to be successful in school.  

Closing argument:

As a life long Somerset county resident, proud graduate of Washington High School and current parent of 2 SCPS students, I am dedicated to my county and seeing it progress.  Given the opportunity to represent my district on the Board of Education, I will advocate for our students and staff, to ensure all voices are heard and the greatest opportunities are made possible. I look forward to collaborating with parents, community stakeholders, students and staff and will be receptive to their ideas on how to make our school system stronger.

Caleb Shores

No response received. 

DISTRICT 4

Troy Brittingham Jr. 

Age: 32

Occupation: : Accounting Manager at WBOC, Inc. and sitting Board Member for Somerset County Public Schools

Why are you running for office? 

I am seeking re-election for my District 4 Board seat to continue to support our students, parents/guardians and teachers. The past four years I have advocated for the success of our students locally and regionally. I have supported our students by attending various events, reading during American Education Week and Dr. Seuss Week, attending the Million Father March greeting students on their first day and assisted in the implementation of policies necessary for student achievement. I am very active with the Maryland Association of Boards of Education where I serve on the Policy Committee, Budget Committee, Ad Hoc Committee on Equity and recently appointed as an LSA Director to represent Somerset County. Being a part of the Equity Committee, we have developed a sample Equity Policy to assist school systems with developing their own policy. We also created a toolkit that many school systems use when developing and approving policies.

Top 3 issues? What is your stance on each, and how would you address it? 

  1. Recruitment and Retention of Teachers – We have great teachers in Somerset County and we want to ensure they feel valued and appreciated.[Strategically placing teachers in the schools where they are needed the most in order to meet their student’s needs. Examining our recruitment efforts to make sure we are getting qualified teachers and teachers that are reflective of our student population that can help push our students to the next level. Over the past 4 years we have recruited some great teachers and many of them are still with us today. We have slogan in Somerset, “Small, but Mighty.” Great things are happening in our schools and that is attributed to our great educators. While we have made great strides, this is something that I plan to continue to push for because our students are successful when our educators are passionate about what they are doing.
  2. Student Achievement – It has been proven that students perform better with smaller classes sizes. Students are able to receive more individual time with their teachers and teachers are able to break off into small groups to meet the needs of their students. Smaller class sizes will also help close the achievement gap. Teachers can monitor the students’ progress and create ways to motivate and engage students. The curriculum and increasing parental involvement have a direct impact on student achievement.
  3. College and Career Readiness – Each of our students will graduate being college and/or career ready. I plan to continue to push for students to explore which option best suites them. We have a state-of-the-art career and technology school where students can explore various programs. We have also seen an increase in the number of students that are taking advantage of the dual enrollment courses that we offer.

Closing argument:

Education and the success of our students drives me to continue doing the work that I am. I have worked with many students during my time on the Board and have also been a tutor for students who are not able to attend school. The most rewarding part is seeing those students walk across the stage and receive their diploma. Parents of the students I have tutored have thanked me for helping their students and making a difference in their lives. I have learned to meet students where they are and help them reach their potential. This is something that I will continue to do because the success of our school systems is measured by the success of our students. Our county motto is, “Success, Nothing Less.” And I plan to continue making a difference in our students lives. 

Matthew Warren Lankford

No response received. 

Maryland election 2020:

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