Meagan Simonaire: Voters are Racist and Sexist
Delegate Meagan Simonaire is following in the footsteps of her father by saying things just to get political attention.
In a tedious and navel-gazing op-ed for The Capital, Delegate Simonaire writes in support of the bill she and her father are sponsoring to replace the Board of Education from an all appointed Board to one with seven elected and three appointed members. This is an issue we have discussed before and is one of three proposals being discussed in the General Assembly. As we have said before, all three proposals are an improvement upon the current system.
However in her op-ed Meagan Simonaire comes out in full-throated support of her bill with three appointed School Board members because she believes that Anne Arundel County voters are too racist to elect somebody who isn’t white, and too sexist to elect a woman:
The all-elected bill relies on hope to reflect our county’s diversity. If you look at the other all-elected boards in our state, you will find a lack of diversity throughout. There are boards with zero women elected. There are boards with zero men elected. There are far too many boards without one African-American or Hispanic member.
It is ironic the Republican sponsors are pushing the Democrats for diversity this year, given that Democrats were incensed last year when, for one month, an African-American did not serve on the school board. With their all-elected system, the board could be without an African-American for a minimum of four years!…
….Part of the problem is that the totality of the all-elected system relies on members being individually elected by councilmanic district, not collectively in the county. That means an individual voter would not be choosing the seven members, but only one from his or her area. This is one of the reasons why boards end up with a lack of diverse representation. The final composition is created from the individual districts.
The hybrid system uniquely addresses diversity by adding three members to complement the individually elected members. These three are appointed by a nonpartisan appointment commission focused on education. There would be seven elected members, three appointed members and one student school board members.
This system would provide the benefit of diverse viewpoints and strengths, while also ensuring that the people have a strong voice in the selection of the school board.
We have been given a false choice. We do not have to choose between giving the people a voice or a board with diversity. My hybrid system provides both and has been working well in other counties within our state.
Let’s not rely on hope as a strategy to ensure our school board reflects our county.
Hope and chance are not a guarantee of diversity, but an aspiration dependent on factors outside our control. One glance at the all-male County Council dispels the notion that diversity is automatically assured.
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree in this regard. Earlier this year Bryan Simonaire said, “A fully elected school board could produce all white men.” In an earlier op-ed in the Capital, he wrote:
Diversity comes in many forms: gender, race, educational experience, etc. For example, men and women see situations differently and have valuable input not obtained by just one gender. Having a diverse board is imperative to reflect our diverse county.
The majority of our state’s school boards are all-elected. However, a closer look will reveal that some of these all-elected boards have only women, or only men. In a third of the boards, there isn’t a single African-American representative. despite significant populations within those counties.
For Republican members of the General Assembly to say that the voters of Anne Arundel County are racist and sexist and can’t be trusted to elect our School Board is appalling and disturbing. As we discussed on this weeks Red Maryland Radio, activists of both genders and of all ethnicities have been fighting for an elected School Board for over a decade because our current system just isn’t getting the job done. Ten years ago one of those activists was State Senator Bryan Simonaire, who at the time was in support of a fully elected School Board. It was one of the issues he ran on during his first campaign for the State Senate in 2006. But as we have seen Bryan Simonaire has become more liberal over the years, and he has moved away from the promises he made when he was elected to the Senate. To now switch positions on the School Board issue because the Simonaires have had some sort of revelation in their minds as to the inherent racism of Anne Arundel County voters means that the Simonaires are playing the same sort of politics of racial division that the Democratic Party has employed time and time again.
Even if one were to look at the electoral history of Anne Arundel County it doesn’t take a lot of effort to see the diverse people who have been elected to positions across Anne Arundel County, in both parties. Women such as Janet Owens, Marjorie Holt, Mary Rose, and Lauren Parker have been elected countywide. Women such as Cathy Vitale, Mary Rosso, Virginia Claggett, and Diane Evans have been elected to County Council seats. African-Americans such as Aris Allen, Daryl Jones, and Pete Smith have been elected in various capacities in our county as well. To imply that the people of Anne Arundel County are racist and sexist and will only elect white men is not only ignorant but it also ignores the fact that the same voters elected Meagan Simonaire to the House of Delegates (even if she really is a member of the House of Delegates elected on a legacy scholarship).
We have fought too long and too hard for a fully-elected School Board in Anne Arundel County to let two rogue legislators who focus first and foremost on growing their family political empire to hold it up. But that’s exactly what may happen thanks to the shenanigans of the Simonaire Caucus; another instance where the Simonaire Caucus is out of step with conservatives in the House and the Senate. Their insistence on this hybrid school board they are pushing for imaginary reasons may derail the entire process of passing any school board reform this year. And if that’s the case, it will truly be a travesty for the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, their teachers, and their students to suffer because two legislators wanted to say things to see their name in the paper instead of holding true to their word and fighting for a truly elected school board.
The people deserve better than to have a good idea torpedoed by two Republicans using the Democratic strategies of racial division to promote their own idea. Voters deserve better from the Simonaire Caucus than what they are getting.