School Board: Kendrick Out of Bounds

October 10, 1994

A letter from Jamie M. Kendrick, a candidate for the Howard County Board of Education, has been making the rounds in political circles, causing a furor because of its surprising display of partisanship for what is supposed to be a non-partisan election.

The "Dear Democrat" letter, signed by Mr. Kendrick, includes a request for campaign funds. Moreover, Mr. Kendrick takes issue with another school board candidate, Stephen Bounds, whom Mr. Kendrick describes as his chief rival and someone linked to "the radical right movement in Howard County."

Saying he is committed to defeating the movement, Mr. Kendrick adds, ". . . I am the only candidate who has a chance of defeating Stephen Bounds for the second seat on the school board."

Mr. Bounds came in a surprise second among five candidates in the September primary, while Mr. Kendrick polled third. Voters will select two school board members next month.

Mr. Bounds, who was little known prior to winning the primary, confirmed recently that he is a member of the conservative Chapelgate congregation in western Howard County, where several of the county's leading Republican elected officials also attend services.

Some believe that Mr. Bounds is intent on implementing a conservative Christian agenda if he wins election to a seat on the school board, but Mr. Bounds has pledged that his religious views would have no bearing on school board policy.

By law, school board races in Howard County are non-partisan, and observers say they have rarely seen party affiliation injected into a school board race.

For that, Mr. Kendrick deserves criticism.

As a candidate, Mr. Kendrick is taking his school board campaign into uncharted waters. Howard County voters have a right to expect that those they elect to run its public school system act independent of party and only in the best interest of all children.

Mr. Kendrick has made a tactical error in the heat of a campaign. It may only serve to alienate regulars of both parties who find his charges too sweeping and too partisan. That would be too bad, because Mr. Kendrick has otherwise proven himself to be a worthy candidate.

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