District 1 school board candidate Grace Rivera-Oven, center in purple, poses for a photo to celebrate her likely victory Tuesday night. Credit: Ginny Bixby

Incumbent Karla Silvestre and newcomers Grace Rivera-Oven and Julie Yang looked likely Tuesday night to win seats on the Montgomery County Board of Education, according to unofficial results from the State Board of Elections. 

In the District 5 race, incumbent Brenda Wolff was locked in a tight race against retired teacher Valerie Coll, with Wolff holding a slim lead of less than 2 percentage points.  

At-large incumbent Karla Silvestre — seeking her second term – is likely re-elected to her seat.  

Julie Yang is leading the District 3 race, with 66.20% percent of the vote. Grace Rivera-Oven is leading the District 1 race, with 57.50% percent of the vote. Both are likely to be elected to their first terms on the Board of Education.  

While the Board of Education is divided into districts, voters were able to vote for all district seats.  

Issues that dominated this year’s school board race included an ongoing teacher shortage, school safety and learning recovery from the pandemic.   


Here’s a breakdown of the four district races: 

Rivera-Oven likely to win District 1 

Grace Rivera-Oven is leading in the District 1 race, according to unofficial results. As of press time, Rivera-Oven had garnered nearly 58% of the vote compared to about 42% for opponent Esther Wells. 


A community activist, Rivera-Oven is 53 and lives in Germantown. Her three children are graduates of Montgomery County Public Schools.  

If elected, Rivera-Oven will fill the seat that will be vacated by longtime school board member Judy Docca after she decided not to run for re-election. Docca, 82, was first elected to the school board in 2006, and was re-elected three times. She previously worked for MCPS for 38 years. 

Rivera-Oven won the primary with 46.03% of the vote, with Wells coming in second with 27.67% of the vote.  


Yang likely to win District 3 

Julie Yang is likely to win the District 3 seat, according to unofficial results. As of press time, Yang had garnered about 66% of the vote compared to about 33% for opponent and current board member Scott Joftus.  

Yang, 52, is a former data analyst and college and career counselor for Montgomery County Public Schools. She also spent seven years as a classroom teacher. She is the mother of two MCPS graduates and lives in Potomac.  


Joftus was appointed to the board in December 2021 following the unexpected passing of longtime board member Pat O’Neill of Bethesda in September 2021. 

Yang won the primary with 60.48% of the vote, with Joftus coming in second with 24.07% of the vote.  
District 5 race close, Wolff takes slight lead 

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, the District 5 race was within tight margins, with incumbent Brenda Wolff holding a slight lead over retired teacher Valerie Coll with about 50% of the vote compared just under 49% for Coll. 


Wolff, who has served on the board since 2018, is seeking re-election for a second term. She is currently serving her second one-year term as president of the school board. Wolff, 69, lives in Silver Spring. 

Coll, 62, was an elementary school teacher in MCPS for 32 years. She lives in Silver Spring. 

In the primary, Wolff secured only 377 more votes than runner-up Valerie Coll. Wolff took 39.53% of the vote, leading Coll by a very slim margin. Coll took 39.25% of the vote.  


Silvestre likely to win at-large seat  

Karla Silvestre, who was elected to the board in 2018, is likely to be re-elected to a second term, according to unofficial results. At 11 p.m., Silvestre was leading with about 67% of the vote over opponent Mike Erickson with about 32%. 

Silvestre is 50 and lives in Silver Spring. She has one daughter who is a MCPS high school sophomore and another who is a graduate of the school system. This will be her second term.  


Silvestre won the primary with 55.80% of the vote, with challenger Mike Erickson coming in second with 17.13% of the vote. Erickson ran a quiet campaign with next to no campaigning or media interviews, with the exception of one interview with Bethesda Beat last month.