Lessoned Learned from Stephen Austin’s Board of Education Race

Stephen Austin BOE

In 2020, Stephen Austin was a newcomer to Montgomery County politics when he ran for the Montgomery County Board of Education.

He placed third in the June 2020 primary (He lost).

But Mr. Austin brought the Montgomery County political machine to its proverbial knees that year.

And Montgomery County’s political system forever changed.

This is the story of Stephen Austin, a one-time Montgomery County Board of Education candidate, who disrupted the Montgomery County Democratic political machine and stood up to the bullies.

Board Of Education Candidate Stephen Austin Disrupts The Machine 

The Montgomery County Political Machine finally cracked in 2020 and was exposed by a Texas native, former substitute teacher, and college radio D.J.

Stephen Austin had no intention of running for office in 2019.

But the Montgomery County Board of Education’s decision to conduct a countywide boundary analysis and review changed his mind.

Events from his childhood inspired him to run for the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Mr. Austin’s father became a single dad when Stephen was 11, losing his job when the Texas oil industry collapsed in the ’80s.

Their house was foreclosed on, and the Austin family moved – three times – when Stephen was in sixth grade. He experienced poverty first-hand – a traumatic experience for any child, Austin recalled.

Stephen Austin’s childhood experiences shaped him into the man he is today.

Austin’s two children were top of mind when he finally decided to jump into the 2020 at-large race.

Montgomery County Democrats Attack Austin 

The 2020 Montgomery County Board of Education primary turned ugly rather quickly.

Mr. Austin’s positions were distorted and twisted by local progressive activists and political gadflies.

The Twitter outrage machine, the Machine’s weapon of choice, often lied about Austin’s positions.

He was called a racist, a bigot, and a homophobe.

Horrific, disgusting lies told by some of the worst elements in Montgomery County politics.

But Austin fought back.

Former Montgomery County Board of Education member Jill Ortman-Fouse and former Montgomery County Councilman George Leventhal led the coordinated attack against Austin.

Ortman-Fouse and Leventhal had company attacking Austin:

  • Melissa Ladd, a notorious cyberbully and internet predator;
  • Clinical social worker Lori Post, whose son, Matt Post, a former Montgomery County Student Member of the Board, Silver Spring, sought a legislative vacancy appointment in District 14;
  • Failed Board of Education candidate Dalbin Osorio;
  • Far-left political activist Laura Stewart, a part-time piano instructor, is currently running for a Board of Education seat in 2024.

Montgomery County Public Schools Suffer Reputational Blow

Montgomery County Public Schools’ reputation suffered a series of consecutive blows over the last five years.

Many parents say they’ve lost trust in Maryland’s largest public school system.

Huh, wonder why?

Montgomery County Public Schools officials have earned a pitiful reputation for withholding unmistakably important information about the safety and well-being of its students.

Their lack of transparency has engaged parents and community members alike.

Stephen Austin & the Montgomery County Public Schools Boundary Study

The boundary analysis discussion and countywide analysis left parents, including Stephen Austin, who launched his Board of Education campaign because of it, feeling skeptical.

Then Stephen Austin began organizing, building a movement of like-minded parents.

Stephen Austin’s Supporters 

Mr. Austin’s supporters were a melting pot of parents, teachers, students, community leaders, and political activists.

His political movement, unlike the Montgomery County Democratic Machine, was inclusive; it welcomed everybody.

Despite falling short in the MCPS BOE primary, Mr. Austin’s political organization still exists today.

Stephen Austin Punched Back

Montgomery County’s progressive, down-county political Machine hates Stephen Austin.

The Machine couldn’t control him, and they couldn’t co-opt him.

So they tried intimidating him – in some of the most obscene ways possible.

But Mr. Austin never sought the Machine’s approval or acceptance, nor did he beg for their endorsement or money.

He refused to kiss the rings of these political brokers.

Mr. Austin didn’t cringe when the entrenched incumbent politicians in Montgomery County sent emails begging people to torch Mr. Austin at the polls.

And he kept on fighting.

Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin, a Democrat, went so far as to contact Stephen Austin’s wife.

Are you thinking what we’re thinking?

Yeah, Jeffry Slavin went too far.

Stephen Austin may have lost a Board of Education race.

Big deal.

But he made his point loud and clear.

We’re not going to take it anymore.

We won’t cower at their tweets.

The bullies are no longer in control.

We have Stephen Austin to thank for standing up and showing us parents that we, too, can fight back – for our kids.