An interesting issue came up at the last Board of Education candidate forum. One of the candidates, teacher’s union endorsed, 19-year-old Camden Raynor, expressed his eagerness to vote on the school system’s budget. This is a core function of BOE members, and it’s great that Camden understands that. But Camden also shared at the forum that he still lives with and is dependent on his parents, both of whom are FCPS teachers.
So here’s the main question. Can Camden cast votes on the FCPS budget since he would directly benefit from his votes? Related to that, could he even serve to constitute a quorum when the board discusses budget matters? Has he requested an ethics opinion on the matter?
It’s common today for young people to live with mom and dad for extended periods as they try to launch grown-up lives. But it’s not common for young people to be in a position to cast votes to raise mom and dad’s paychecks. I’m sure the teachers union had ample reason to endorse this precocious teen to vote on a budget of more than $615 million. And we definitely need more student engagement countywide. But we also need clean votes on a budget that impacts Frederick County taxpayers so much.
Coincidentally, a similar issue came up with union-endorsed candidate Karen Yoho (a recent FCPS retiree). Is she able to vote on items related to post-employment benefits since she relies on those benefits herself?
Four years ago, as candidates and FCPS teachers, Jerry Donald and Jessica Fitzwater quickly cleared up a similar issue by getting an ethics opinion (even though Council Members do not directly benefit from their education budget votes). So I’m not saying these issues are necessarily disqualifying or even suspicious. But we at least need to think about ethics before we cast our votes in November.