It was similar to a typical Sunday at Sue Johnson’s farm on election night. Her neighbors and friends came over, the kids played some ball, and shared laughs together. The only difference were some big silver balloons in the room that spelled out “Congrats Sue”.
“I feel like that’s bad luck,” Johnson told her husband Eddie Johnson as he attempted to make the balloons all face the same direction.
The polls had just closed in the county and Johnson and her mini watch party gathered in her garage that doubled as a baseball practice shed to await the results of the Frederick County Board of Education race.
Vote totals: School board
|Candidate||Early voting||Mail-in votes||Election Day Votes||Votes|
|Rae M. Gallagher||12,955||15,191||4,372||28,146|
|Jason “Mr. J” Johnson||15,891||14,378||5,532||30,269|
|Paulette Anders - Write-in||NR||NR||NR||NR|
Three seats are up for grabs on the board. Current board members Rae Gallagher and Lois Jarman are running to retain their seats and member Michael Bunitsky is stepping down. Johnson is one of seven candidates that ran for the open seats.
As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Johnson was in the lead with 21.7 percent of the votes. She was leading all the other candidates by at least five percent. Jason Johnson and David Bass trailed behind her with 16 percent and 15.1 percent respectively. Close behind in fourth was Rae Gallagher with 14.5 percent.
A long-time friend of Johnson’s, Courtney Stauffer, came with her family to support Johnson through the night.
Stauffer said Johnson will be a good board member because of her experience.
“She has a kid in the school system and I think that’s a huge thing especially right now I think she sees the struggles of working moms and sees the struggles coming from kids so I think it makes her a great candidate,” Stauffer said. “She truly cares about the kids.”
Johnson’s husband Eddie agreed.
“She wants the best for the county and the education system. She wants [students] to get the most out of whatever they’re working on,” he said.
He supports his wife but wouldn’t want to be in her shoes during such a complicated time.
“I thought she was crazy [for running] and that was before the COVID. I can’t imagine anybody wanting to be on the school board right now because it’s hard to make anybody really happy,” he said.
He said he was proud of her though, and knows how hard she has worked. There was little anxiety from him or the others throughout the night and it seemed to stem from Johnson’s own attitude.
“I’m just pragmatic. I could have gone to bed earlier and just been fine to wake up tomorrow. There’s nothing I can do about it,” she said. “And I’m not a big celebrator of anything.”
Halfway through the night Johnson and her husband took a trip down the road to visit their neighbors Jane and Charlie Smith who celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. They brought cream of crab soup along for Charlie to have for lunch the next day.
“She’s an excellent person. She’s my adopted mother,” Jane said as she held Johnson’s hand and patted.
When asked if she had voted for Johnson in the local election Jane emphatically replied, “Of course. I only voted for her.”
It was while sitting with Jane and Charlie that the first results of the board of education race came in. Johnson was in the lead.
It turned out Eddie’s balloons hadn’t been bad luck.
Johnson said she was humbled. She never expected this level of support.
“I think...it’s a clear message that people would like me to represent our students and our families in our community,” she said. “I think it’s something that will be a big challenge but I’m looking forward to making sure we have excellence in education.”
The final numbers weren’t in yet and wouldn’t be in for a while, but Johnson felt confident by the initial results. She was already thinking like a board member.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to get done and that’s where my mind is already I’m thinking of ways on how we can get balls in motion for the school system to progress,” she said.