Teachers' Union E-mail At Issue in MoCo Election
Montgomery County's largest teachers' union is rallying its troops to support school board President Nancy Navarro in Tuesday's special election for the vacant County Council seat of the late Marilyn Praisner.
MCEA is targeting the 1,100 teachers who live in the eastern county's District 4 with mailings, robocalls from President Bonnie Cullison, and e-mails.
It was an e-mail sent to teachers on their school system addresses this week that raised concerns from at least one teacher and supporters of one of Navarro's rivals, Don Praisner, the widower of the late council member.
Praisner supporters questioned whether the e-mail violated school policy on electioneering within a school building. Mary Pat Spon, MCEA's UniServ Director, explained that the e-mail purposely left out Navarro's name and instead asked recipients to link to MCEA's website for more information.
"I can readily see how the message would lead you to question our sending of the e-mail. It does everything BUT identify our recommended candidate and that is the essence of our strategy to stay within MCPS rules," Spon wrote in response to a concerned teacher.
But Tom Israel, MCEA's executive director, said yesterday that Spon got it wrong and that the union was well within its rights to send an e-mail endorsing Navarro. MCEA, he said, can send such e-mails to school system addresses just as members of the public can e-mail teachers from school Web sites.
"The system would be discriminating against us if we were not able to mail into the system when everyone else can," he said. "The suggestion is kind of silly."
So why leave out Navarro's name? "We're trying to drive people to our Web site," he said. "It could have said, vote for Nancy five times over."
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