Pressing issues motivate PHS students to run for SMOB


Photo from MCPS

Junior Faith Nah and sophomore Shimma Wexler recently began their campaigns for the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) position in December of 2022, with the goal of improving the county’s education system. 

The SMOB election sparks innovative campaigns and rallies for change, giving one student a voice to represent the views and opinions of their peers in school board meetings. Approved candidates are provided with opportunities to visit middle and high schools around the county to learn about various students’ concerns, build their campaigns, and gain support. 

Nah represented Poolesville, advancing to the semifinals at the SMOB nominating convention. She created her campaign to work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive educational system. Her Downcounty Consortium (DCC) background was able to provide her with first-hand experience of the different disparities of the county, making equity her main focus.

“Many of my close friends who went to Argyle middle school with me now go to different schools across the DCC, especially Wheaton HS,” Nah said. “Just from talking to them, you realize how different access, support, and experience looks like across the county.”

Wexler focused his campaign on making the county safe and fun for everyone, which included closing opportunity gaps and promoting mental health programs as well as recycling awareness.

“Students should be able to receive a fair chance to perform to their fullest potential regardless of where they live or who they are,” Wexler said.

During this time, Nah continued her advocacy work for issues she felt passionately about. She explained the process behind how she was able to get Bill 33-22, which requires the County Executive to submit an affordable housing study for new capital projects, successfully passed. 

“Bill 33-22 was one of my side advocacy projects that had been in the works for a couple of months.” Nah said. “It was proposed almost 2 years ago, and my process behind working on getting Bill 33-22 passed was through the County Council.”

Nah shared her experience on her social media platform, posting video footage from her testimony on Jan. 17, 2023. She also worked with Council Member Andrew Friedson and Council Member Natali Fanzlaes Gonzalez to advocate in favor of the bill. 

“My work specifically included attending council hearings, testifying, and researching the educational equity impact the bill would have,” Nah said.

Wexler expressed how the experience helped him grow as a leader, and further develop his time management skills in order to balance his campaign, school work, and other responsibilities. He was also able to gain valuable insight into the process of creating systemic change.

“This experience has made me realize how long the process takes to make changes around the county,” Wexler said. “It’s not like a light switch where it happens immediately. There is so much more behind the scenes.”

While the candidates are now done with their campaigns, they were grateful for the experience and chance to talk to students around the county.