Baba Cisse, Arvin Kim named final SMOB candidates in Nominating Convention; General election to take place on Apr. 20


Photo courtesy Max Choi

Junior Max Choi visits students at Westland Middle School during his SMOB campaign.

After a long month of school visits and campaigning, Einstein’s Baba Cisse and Whitman’s Arvin Kim have been selected as the final SMOB candidates. The two were selected from a nominating convention on Feb. 16 in which delegates from each school had their pick of more than 15 candidates. 

The SMOB campaign season is long and culminates in a county-wide election in April to name the Student Member of the Board of Education, who will represent students on the Board. The filing period for candidates closed Jan. 27, and candidates had until Feb. 15 to visit schools and earn the votes of delegates in preparation for the Nominating Convention. During the convention, candidates answer questions about their platforms and experience that make them qualified for such a challenging and time-consuming position. 

Given the high number of candidates, each one was limited in the time they were allowed to respond to questions during the convention. “It was a bit hard to understand everyone’s platform in the time they were allotted, but that made it easier to highlight Arvin and Baba as ones who could get their points across in that short period of time,” sophomore and delegate Naomi Esterowitz said. 

Junior class president Max Choi ran a passionate but ultimately unsuccessful campaign, focusing on elevating student voice, accountability, and neglect within the transportation system. “I truly do not believe that we as students have a voice. I was a delegate at the SMOB nominating convention when I was in eighth grade and I saw SMOB candidates have their mics cut simply because they were disagreeing with the Board of Education’s policy,” Choi said. 

Not all delegates are able to meet with every school, so candidates turn to Instagram to reach voters, often amassing thousands of followers. Only a handful of candidates visited the school, including Maahe Kunvar and Kim. Of the promises candidates made during their meeting, Esterowitz said she thinks they are aiming too high. “I wish the candidates would be more realistic. One year just isn’t enough to promise these massive plans,” Esterowitz said. 

The last two SMOBs, seniors Hana O’Looney and Nick Asante, have hailed from Richard Montgomery, in what some have colloquially dubbed the RM-to-SMOB pipeline. Last school year both final candidates, O’Looney and Henry Kaye, were from Richard Montgomery. Wootton’s last SMOB was elected in 2009, in which time Richard Montgomery has had five SMOBs. 

Running for SMOB is no easy feat, with candidates withdrawing even before the nominating convention. Candidates are excused from classes to visit school, but expected to make up the classwork in their free time. “Whenever I get home, I would have a lot more work piled up to make up for the missed class time. I also haven’t been able to go to my swim practice in about two weeks, which was really unfortunate. Nevertheless this campaign requires a lot of dedication, stamina, and time management, and overall [has been] a very interesting experience,” Choi said.