Belinda Queen
Belinda Queen (Courtesy photo)

Three new people will represent the Prince George’s County school board next month, which could represent a cultural change from the public infighting among board members when former public schools CEO Kevin Maxwell led the state’s second-largest school system.

Voters chose two political neophytes — Belinda Queen and Joshua Thomas — over incumbents for a nonpartisan board that uses a hybrid model with elected and appointed members. Unofficial results from the Nov. 6 general election show both candidates winning by at least 2,500 votes each.

“On behalf of the voters that supported me, I say ‘thank you’ and who believed in the message of putting kids first for a change,” said Queen, who will represent District 6 after defeating Vice Chairwoman Carolyn Boston. “I’m a person who’s going to sympathize and empathize because … a lot of things people talk about, I’ve been there and done that.”

Queen, of Landover, retired 10 years ago from Verizon, recently completed a term on the county’s Democratic Central Committee, has three children, nine stepchildren and served as a foster parent or guardian to 11 children.

Boston sought a third four-year term to represent the area that includes Capitol Heights and Francis Scott Key elementary schools and Thomas G. Pullen Creative and Performing Arts.

Joshua Thomas (Courtesy photo)

Thomas, a Howard University graduate and manager of recruitment at historically Black colleges and universities with Teach For America, defeated incumbent Lupi Quinteros-Grady for the District 2 seat by slightly more than 3,000 votes. The territory encompasses College Park Academy, Greenbelt Middle School and Eleanor Roosevelt High School, among other schools.

Dinora Hernandez, an attorney and Latino liaison in the county executive’s office, didn’t seek re-election in District 3. Voters chose Pamela Boozer-Strother, a small-business owner and community activist, over Juwan Blocker, a Bowie State University student and former student member on the board, by more than 2,100 votes.

Schools in that district are: Hyattsville Elementary, César Chávez Dual Spanish Immersion and Northwestern High School.

Pamela Boozer-Strother (Courtesy photo)

The public school system’s hierarchy also underwent leadership changes this year, including interim CEO Monica Goldson, who Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III appointed to replaced Maxwell in July.

The only school board incumbent to win, Sonya Williams, will serve a second four-year term to represent District 9 after defeating social studies teacher Arun Puracken by more than 12,000 votes. Williams will help oversee schools in the southern part of Prince George such as Tanglewood Regional, Gwynn Park middle and high schools.

Raaheela Ahmed, a District 5 board member and part of a minority bloc that challenged Maxwell, welcomes her new colleagues.

“It will be refreshing to have new energy on the board,” she said. “We need fighters on our board. We need people to speak up when things aren’t going right because the only way we can correct our deficiencies is if we vocalize them first.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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