MCPS SMOB Election may be the Tightest Race in Recent Time

With the SMOB election coming up on April 22nd and 23rd, candidates Henry Kaye and Hana O’Looney have been busy talking to students across the county to promote their campaign platforms, whether that be through scheduled Zoom meetings, or on their active Instagram pages. To help students make this decision, the county has also provided students access to the official Candidate Profile as well as the annual “Meet the Candidates” video, available on MCPSTV’s YouTube channel. To give our student body more insight into the candidates’ platform, the Poolesville Pulse sat down with Kaye and O’Looney to talk about their campaigns.


Kaye is a junior at Richard Montgomery High School (RMHS) who decided to run for SMOB in order to bring light to the high barrier that students face when attempting to get involved in student government and advocacy at the county level. A self-described outsider to county student politics, his campaign emphasizes a need for legitimate county-wide change that stems from all student opinion, not just the students who are well-positioned to become a part of the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association (MCR SGA).

“My only reason for running is to represent our students,” Kaye said. “If you look at who’s endorsed me, who I’ve worked with, I have no adult endorsements. That represents where my ideas are… my first priority is always the needs of the students.” 

 An Eagle Scout, multiple varsity sports athlete, and local business owner, Kaye has demonstrated his leadership experience both in and out of the school building to help strengthen his community. Given his background as an Eagle Scout, and the extensive campsite project he collaborated with the National Park Service to build, Kaye believes that he has the implementation experience necessary to work through slow government systems and create lasting impacts. His campaign is centered around this idea of implementation, and working to see tangible results that improve how our county operates.

“I’m kind of the first SMOB-candidate to pick up [on the] economics,” Kaye admitted. “By reallocating our money, we can make sure we’re diversifying our curriculum, bringing in diverse teaching staff, and making advancements to our school system.”

If elected, Kaye plans to cut inefficiencies out of the budget, and target money where it’s needed. To address the environmental impact of school buildings, he proposes an investment in sustainable and energy-efficient alternatives to heating, cooling, and building maintenance in order to save money that can be reinvested in other areas. He also wants to dedicate funding to closing the achievement gap, expanding the curriculum to represent the diversity of the county, and providing expert counseling to all students. Kaye firmly believes in zero tolerance for bullying, racism, sexual assault, and hate of any type, supporting implicit bias training for all staff, and counseling for students who’ve been exposed to hate.

On the issue of returning to school, Kaye admits that the county has done a good job in prioritizing which students need in-school instruction, but he also wants to see a prioritization in terms of classes. Citing classes such as Physical Education and Chemistry, Kaye points out that some classes just don’t translate well online. As a result, he would like to see an increase in the number of students returning, and plans to push for more flexible, unconventional methods of learning, such as the use of outdoor spaces to accommodate more students.

Overall, Kaye believes that, although he does have big plans, his economic understanding and implementation experience have put him in a position to make a real impact.

“There’s an opportunity to elect someone who is going to implement your changes as quickly as possible, who is going to listen to all voices, and is going to actually bring change,” Kaye said. “That’s what I’m here to do.”


 O’Looney is also a junior at RMHS, and has years of experience in county student government and advocacy. She is the current Vice President of the MCR SGA, chair of the MoCo EmpowHER nonprofit, previous President of the Montgomery County Junior Council, and previous member of the MCPS District Assessment and Systemwide Wellness Committees. As a student of MCPS for her entire school career, O’Looney has spent the past six years fighting for education equity, from the accessibility of menstrual products to ending PARCC exams, and she hopes to continue that work as SMOB.

Launching her campaign in the wake of a transformational year in terms of advocacy and social justice, O’Looney’s goal is to bring the power of students’ voices directly to the Board of Education, creating change by uplifting those with different issues they’d like to address.

“I have already taken steps to do that; I have started two coalitions specifically for the down county consortium and the northeast county consortium, which are historically underrepresented … areas of our county,” O’Looney explained.

In addition to those coalitions, O’Looney has also created a student advisory team that includes students from the remaining consortiums. These coalitions will assist in creating policy, bringing issues to the Board, and serving as connections to the county at large.

Aside from her coalitions, O’Looney plans to stay in constant contact with students, through social media and her plan of visiting every middle and high school at least once per semester. She recognizes that there are many places of improvement in the MCPS curriculum, which can only be fully understood by connecting with students. One of her campaign goals is to cultivate an antiracist environment, including working to end the school-to-prison pipeline targeting students of color, and diversifying teaching staff to reflect MCPS’s student body.

“Thinking back at the [12] years I’ve spent in MCPS, I’ve had four black teachers…, one Hispanic teacher…, and one Asian teacher,” O’Looney explained. “I’ve never had an East Asian teacher; never had a teacher that looked like me. That is a serious problem.”

O’Looney’s platform also emphasizes the closing of the opportunity gap, specifically directing funds to equitable distribution of extracurriculars and free SAT and ACT prep. Given the county’s transition to online learning, she also proposes using the online setting to allow students to take classes that aren’t offered at their current school to ensure equal opportunity in terms of class selection.

On the issue of return-to-school, she is confident in the county’s plan to keep students safe, but stresses the importance of caution. She recognizes the need to reopen schools to allow students unhindered learning, but says she will continue to support online learning for those who do not feel safe. 

O’Looney is excited for the opportunity to represent the student body, but she stresses that she will not be doing this alone.

“I’m not the only one calling the shots,” O’Looney said. “I’m not the only one trying to speak on behalf of all 163,000 MCPS students, but I’m actually sharing my seat with students that have had experiences different from mine.”   


Voting will take place on April 22nd and 23rd in all English/ESOL classes. Students will receive an email on April 19th with more specific instructions on how to vote. In the meantime, the Pulse recommends that all students stay informed on both candidates.