Raised in a military family, Cullison lived in four states and two European countries until she was 18. She returned to Maryland for college since her parents had maintained residency in their home state. Cullison earned both bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park and began working for the St. Mary's County school district in 1978. She moved to Montgomery County in 1981, serving as a special education teacher in the public schools. She spent 19 years as a special education teacher, during which time she was elected to office in the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), an 11,000-member teachers' union. In 2003, she was elected the union's president, a post she held for six years. She retired from MCEA in 2009 and now works for the National Education Association.
Cullison mounted a bid for the Maryland House of Delegates in 2010, running in the three-member 19th district. The district includes the Montgomery County communities of Silver Spring, Wheaton, Leisure World, Northwood, Four Corners, Aspen Hill, Kemp Mill, Olney, Derwood, Laytonsville and unincorporated areas of Rockville and Gaithersburg. Incumbents Roger Manno and Henry B. Heller had decided against seeking reelection, creating two open seats in the 19th.
Bonnie Cullison, Marcia Massey and Bonnie Rubin-Sugarman attend 'Trophy Kids' World Film Festival Premiere at Laemmle Sunset 5 Theatre on June 5, 2011 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)
Six Democrats filed for delegate and, in the Democratic primary election held on September 14, Cullison placed second, surpassed only by incumbent Ben Kramer. She thus won the Democratic nomination, proceeding to the general election.
In the general election, the three Democratic nominees faced only token opposition in a district that's overwhelmingly Democratic. They won easily.
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