There was a Howard County Board of Education Candidate Forum jointly hosted by Chinese American Political Association (CAPA) PAC, Howard County Families for Education Improvement (FEI), Howard County Neighbors United, Indian Origin Network of Howard County (IONHoCo), Scott E’s Blog and HoCo Kids on February 16, 2020. This event was held at Alphabets Montessori School from 1:00pm to 5:00pm this past Sunday. Here is a quick recap of the event:

Out of the 18 candidates running for HoCoBOE in 2020, 11 attended the forum.

District 1

Christina Delmont-small – yes
Matthew D. Molyett – no

District 2

Larry Pretlow, II – yes
James Cecil – no
Antonia Barkley Watts – no

District 3:

Gian P. Alfeo – yes
Tom Heffner – no
Jolene Mosley – no

District 4:

Kirsten Coombs – yes
Matt Levine – yes
Sezin Palmer – yes
Mike Sheer – yes
Jen Mallo – no
Daniel J. Margolis – no

District 5:

Yun Lu – yes
Saif Rehman – yes
Gene Ryan – yes
Cindy Vaillancourt – yes

It was good to see the candidates that attended the event. Many arrived well before their session and most stayed much longer than I anticipated.

The candidates that attended all answered the same three questions that was compiled by the event organizers and then took many questions from the audience at the session. These were all very good questions for the candidates (in my opinion).

The crowd size was outstanding. I do not have an actual count of the total number of people that attended but I can tell you it was well over 100…maybe over 150 or 200 for the entire afternoon with all of the people coming and going between 1:00pm and 5:00pm. There were times that it was difficult just to get into the room and find a comfortable place to stand (much less sit). I tried at one point to do a count of the number of people in the room and counted more than 75 people in the room at one of the peak moments of the forum.

I know some organizations and candidate supporters were taking videos of the sessions…I am hoping those make it online in the near future.

I was there to take photos and to moderate one of the sessions (District 3)…and I have published 185 photos I took from my camera and my iPhone. You can view them all here: (click the image below to view the photos)

I did not get any photos of the candidate from District 3 while he was answering questions…that is hard to do when I am the person asking the questions at the table. Hopefully others have photos of Gian Alfeo during his session.

In years past I have not been super keen on candidate forums. I like them but they do not always get good crowds. I have even questioned why candidates would attend so many forums that such a small number of people from our community attends. This year is different. After seeing the turnout at the D1 & D5 candidate forum at Mt. Hebron High School and seeing this event from the past weekend…this election cycle seems different. The community is much more engaged and the turnout at these forums seems much higher so far in the election cycle.

I know candidates have schedules that may prevent them from attending some of the forums throughout the course of an election cycle. My readers should understand that as well. A candidate may have family events or other previously scheduled things on their calendar or even emergencies that may prevent the candidate from attending EVERY session. Let us try not to be super critical of candidates that are not at every session…that being said…

If a candidate is a regular no show to candidate forums or candidate events…well that is something else all together…especially this election cycle. It looks like the crowds are coming out and if your goal is to get their vote I would highly recommend attending these public sessions from the various organizations hosting those events. Just my 2 cents here.

ARTICLE UPDATE: I am adding this from HoCoBOE Member Vicky Cutroneo because I think it is important in what I posted above…please be sure to hit (See More) and read it all:


The next forums on the calendar (that I know about) are hosted by The People’s Voice:

Date: February 24, 2020 (6:15pm – 8:45pm)

Event: Board of Education Candidates Forum D4,5

Location: Miller Branch Library

Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1086694068342187/

Date: February 25, 2020 (6:15pm – 8:45pm)

Event: Board of Education Candidate Forum D1,2,3

Location: Elkridge Library

Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/173495000540016/

I plan to be at both of these events…and will be taking photos and maybe some videos. I may have a recap article similar to this after those events.

Hope to see you out and about…as always…say hi when you see me.

Thanks for reading,

Scott E