Montgomery teachers union appoints new political director -- Gazette.Net


The story was corrected at 3 p.m. on Aug. 27, 2013. An explanation follows the story.

With local elections around the corner, Montgomery County’s teachers union has a new leader spearheading its political efforts who only a few months ago was teaching high school students.

Barbara Hueter of Silver Spring recently took on the role of the Montgomery County Education Association’s political director after about eight years in Montgomery County Public Schools as a Spanish teacher at Gaithersburg High School and Sherwood High School in Olney, and then a social studies teacher at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

“I’m the political director for MCEA, but I’m a teacher,” Hueter said. “I know firsthand how that system works, and then I know how the political process works.”

For the past two school years, Hueter was a co-chair of the union’s Political Action and Legislative Support Committee, a committee that determines which political candidates the union will support.

She is taking the reins from Jon Gerson, who did similar political work for the union in his former role as the director of community outreach.

“Jon did tremendous work building our political organization, and I want to build on that,” Hueter said.

Gerson, who is still at the union and working with teachers, said he thinks Hueter will do “a fine job.”

“Barbara’s many years as an educator will ensure she understands those whom she’s advocating for,” he said.

About a week into her new position, Hueter said she wants to help ensure teachers’ and other educators’ voices are heard in both Rockville and Annapolis.

She also pointed to support she received during her teaching career — including sick leave and a consulting teacher who helped her when she was relatively new in the school system — that were the result of the union’s work, she said.

“I want to be part of maintaining and improving those,” she said. “That’s what really drew me into being interested in the union.”

Hueter said she is working on several goals, including “a sharp focus” on increasing teacher involvement in the political process in activities such as passing out apple ballots and taking part in phone banks.

Other responsibilities for Hueter will include managing and supporting the political action committee and providing campaign support for candidates.

Before she became a teacher, Hueter said she worked as an aide to the state speaker of the house in Ohio and then as a lobbyist for a trade association and a business.

Tom Israel, the union’s executive director, said Hueter’s appointment marks one part of the union’s reorganization as it moves to a different staff model where there are more “differentiated responsibilities.”

“We used to have a staff where everybody was a jack of all trades,” Israel said.

Israel called the political director position “pretty demanding,” noting that “politics in this county can be a contact sport.”

“She brings not only political experience, but teaching experience as well,” he said of Hueter.

Hueter said she recognizes the job is a big one, but is excited to step in.

“You just get in there and you do the work and you just do it as widely as possible,” she said.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Jon Gerson was the former political director. He was, in fact, the director of community outreach.