The Montgomery County Education Association endorsed candidates last week for the Board of Education, the County Council and the General Assembly, issuing a list that is most notable for who is absent.
The union, representing Montgomery's 7,200 teachers, has been embroiled this spring in a messy fight with county and school officials over the size of teachers' raises and the education budget. The politicians' stance in that dispute appears to have been the basis for many of the union's choices.
Earlier this spring, the union had vowed to oppose the election of any official who did not support the teachers' new negotiated contract.
In their endorsements, however, they stopped a bit short of that.
Of the three school board members running for office -- one for reelection and two for the County Council -- the union endorsed only Bruce Goldensohn, a Republican council candidate. Last month, Goldensohn was one of only two board members who, deciding how to cope with a slashed budget, voted to give the teachers all of the raises furnished under the contract that they had negotiated during the winter.
On the other hand, the union made no endorsement in the at-large school board race in which incumbent James E. Cronin, who voted to renegotiate the contract, is opposed by political newcomers Sheldon Fishman, Donald Krintz and Alan Cheung.
Nor did the union endorse a candidate in the 4th District County Council race, in which school board member Marilyn Praisner, who favored the renegotiations, opposes incumbent Michael L. Gudis.
Mark Simon, the union's president, said, "Neither Jim Cronin nor Marilyn Praisner have been very clear in their positions on the whole negotiations issue." With renegotiations still under way, he said, union members decided to withhold endorsements "before this all plays out."
"On the Gudis-Praisner thing, frankly this could go either way. Both have let us down in a lot of ways," Simon said, referring to Gudis's opposition to measures to raise more tax revenue for which the union unsuccessfully lobbied the council this spring. "Both have in the past been somewhat supportive. We have to sort it out and figure who is more culpable."
The union took no position on the county executive's race, in which incumbent Sidney Kramer is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Henry Bain, a former council aide. Republican Albert Ceccone has no announced opposition yet in the Republican primary.
Kramer had recommended cutting the teachers' raises for the coming year from 7 percent, as provided by the new contract, to 4 percent.
But Simon said simply, "No motion was made. We basically just didn't deal with it as an issue."
In school board races with no incumbent candidates, the union endorsed Carol Fanconi, a civic activist from Gaithersburg in the 1st District; Ana Sol Gutierrez, a leader in the Hispanic community, in the 3rd District; and Donald Buckner, an NAACP leader, in the 5th District.
In the council races, the union also endorsed Vickie York, a Gaithersburg real estate agent and a Democrat running in the 1st District. It also decided to back Derick Berlage, a lawyer, in the 5th District, and, for four at-large seats, incumbents Isiah Leggett, Bruce T. Adams, Michael L. Subin and former council aide Gail Ewing.
The teachers did not endorse council member Rose Crenca, who is also running for an at-large seat. Crenca supported Kramer's proposal to cut the teachers' raises to 4 percent and was among the most critical of the council members on teacher pay.