On March 7th, 2013, over two hundred delegates from public secondary schools across the county convened at Walter Johnson High School to select the two final candidates for the 36th Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB). After nearly four hours of opening and closing remarks, question and answer sessions, and one-to-one conversations with participating delegates, Justin Kim of Poolesville High School and Andrew Zhang of Richard Montgomery High School were selected to appear in the general election. Both candidates offered comparable platforms and experiences. The general election of the SMOB will be this upcoming Wednesday, April 24th, where every student in grades 6-12 will be invited to participate in the election process via an electronic balloting system. The election process, sponsored by the Board of Education and coordinated by the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association, serves the mission of promoting democracy and civil efficacy among youths.
On the eve of the general election, the MoCo Student is proud to present an original interview and analysis into both candidates for this highly important position. The SMOB is responsible for attending all Board of Education meetings, often several hours in duration, testifying and advocating on behalf of students, as well as proposing new initiatives to address particular issues. Justin Kim, a candidate from Poolesville High School, did not respond to interview questions in a timely manner, so the information below was taken from the candidate’s past public statements.
Responses from Andrew Zhang:
1. List your top three goals as the next SMOB:
• Work with County Council members to stay on the same page as far as Maintenance of Effort and funding goes, the budget for our county’s education is pivotal for continued developments
• Stay in touch with student groups through think tanks, SMOB council, and school visits
• Maintain a strong, online social media presence to reach out to a wider audience of students, not just those who are already involved with student government
2. What significant hardship did you overcome, throughout your course of involvement with student government?
The most significant hardship for me is overcoming myself. Especially getting over the fear of talking to others and the fear of speaking, which are crucial skills for any effective leader.
3. What quality in a leader do you wish to acquire the most?
Open mindedness- Leaders need to be able to listen to all their constituents. Only this way can a diverse pool of interests be heard. I’ve been on the Richard Montgomery SGA as a class and school-wide officer, where having an open perspective established strong ties between my colleagues and me.
4. Conflict is inevitable in many occasions. How do you deal with a conflict of interests?
I try my best to understand both sides of the issue, no matter big or small, and then work from there to see if a resolution could be reached. The multi-perspective views allows me to make more thought-out choices.
5. Give an inspirational quote
“Sometimes the questions are complicated but the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss
Information on Justin Kim from past public statements:
“We are so blessed to have such a unique position on the Board available for us to voice our opinions and influence the policies that affect us every day. However, we must treat this position on the Board with respect by putting forth candidates with real ideas and a true representation of the student voice.”
It is difficult for Justin to identify any budget cuts that he believes should be considered. At his school, Justin has been elected into the Poolesville High School SGA, where he currently holds an officer position. Justin looks forward to the position of the Student Member for next year.
All students will be directed to the voting posts on Wednesday, April 24th to cast their ballot. Results of the election will be posted the afternoon of the election. We wish the best of luck to both candidates.