Montgomery teachers union withdraws support for Barclay -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 11:00 a.m. on June 5, 2014.

Board of Education member Christopher S. Barclay (D), who is running for a Montgomery County Council seat, has lost endorsements from two unions representing county teachers and education employees.

The Montgomery County Education Association, which represents about 12,000 teachers and other educators, announced Wednesday that members of the union’s Representative Assembly voted to withdraw a recommendation for Barclay in the Council’s District 5 race.

“We believe Chris can have a good future in public service in the county,” union president Doug Prouty said in a Wednesday statement. “But in light of the recent news and financial disclosures, we cannot recommend him in this race at this time.”

The union has not endorsed another candidate for the District 5 seat.

Barclay has recently come under fire for using a school system-issued credit card to make multiple personal purchases totalling nearly $1,500, charges he was required to reimburse.

SEIU Local 500 — which represents bus drivers, maintenance workers and other school system service employees ­­— withdrew its support Wednesday.

The union said it now backs Del. Tom Hucker (D) for the open seat, according to the union’s website.

Union president Merle Cuttitta said in a statement Wednesday that Hucker is “a steadfast supporter of our schools, our children and our community.”

“He is an experienced leader on progressive issues and he has a track record of getting things done,” Cuttitta said in the statement. “We have no reservations about endorsing him for the Montgomery County Council.”

SEIU initially backed Barclay in the race, saying he was someone who “earned our support over the course of many years and will be a strong voice for schools and education — from cradle to college! — on the County Council.”

Tom Israel, executive director of the county teachers union, said in March that Barclay has stood up as an advocate for county schools in difficult budget times despite facing “abuse” for his decisions.

In his Wednesday statement, Prouty said the teachers union members “look forward to continuing to work with Chris as a member of the Board of Education.”

Among Barclay’s backers, County Council President Craig L. Rice said he stands behind Barclay.

Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said he believes that people should make amends for their bad decisions.

But unless some Barclay’s actions were found to be criminal, “it’s not going to change my support,” he said.

“I think Chris is a dedicated person who certainly had a strong voice on the school board and [made] sure every single child was ready to receive a quality education,” Rice said. “Those qualities that led me to support him, those kinds of things haven’t changed.”