SMOB Eric Guerci elected to second term of historic significance

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Jeffrey Cirillo, Co-Online News Editor

The election of a new student member of the Board of Education, or SMOB, is always a big deal. The SMOB plays a uniquely important role as the representative of the student voice on the Montgomery County board.

Nevertheless, the SMOB elections this year may have been a bigger deal than ever before.

Current SMOB Eric Guerci won re-election to a second term in the SMOB elections this April. His victory will not only make him one of the few student members elected to two terms: he will also be the first Montgomery County SMOB in history to have full voting rights.

When the position was created in 1978, the student member was not allowed to vote on any matters. 12 years later, then-SMOB Alison Serino (Guerci’s former principal) gained partial voting rights on the board.

But even then, state law still barred the SMOB from voting on many important issues like school closings and budgets. For decades, student member after student member struggled and failed to get state legislation passed to fully repeal these restrictions.

Guerci made passing full voting rights a top priority in his first term, like many SMOBs before him. He helped re-introduce the SMOB voting rights bill in the Maryland state legislature, and went to Annapolis to advocate for the bill at a state hearing. He testified that the bill would represent “an unwavering empowerment of the next generation.”

“The expansion of SMOB voting rights would truly bring to light a countywide commitment to advancing the student voice,” Guerci told the room of lawkmakers.

The bill eventually sailed out of committee and passed the House of Delegates. Then the bill would face its final legislative test: the Senate floor. The saga ended on March 30 when, in an overwhelming 39-4 vote, full SMOB voting rights passed the Senate.

Guerci said in a Facebook post after the vote: “Today, we won.”

WJ senior Edom Mesfein supported the SMOB voting rights bill in December, before it came to a vote. She said that the student member must be able to vote on all issues in order to fully represent the students who elected him.

“The whole point of electing a SMOB is he or she represents the student voice,” Mesfein said. “Not letting the student member [vote on these issues] kind of defeats the point.”

Now Mesfein says she couldn’t be happier.

“I’m extremely happy,” Mesfein said. “This opens up real opportunities for students to have a voice on issues that impact them. I’m excited to see what Eric and future SMOBs do with this new found influence.”

The SMOB voting rights law takes effect on July 1, coinciding with the start of Guerci’s second term.

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