Seven candidates run in school board convention

April 30, 1995|By Carol L. Bowers and Andrea K. Walker | Carol L. Bowers and Andrea K. Walker,Sun Staff Writers

Delegates to the Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Convention are to vote Wednesday on which of seven candidates they will recommend to fill two vacancies on the board.

But even as they vote, a nagging question is bound to dampen their spirits and those of the candidates. Will anyone pay attention to their decision?

"No, I don't have faith the governor will listen," said Janet Bury, one of four candidates seeking the District 31 seat. "But I felt having a discussion of the issues was important."

For more than 25 years, Anne Arundel's nominating convention has sponsored forums where delegates from community groups question board candidates, then vote for their choice.

But seven times in the past 12 years, the governor has rejected the board's choice, relying instead on the advice of the county executive to fill the slot.

County Executive John G. Gary has not said whether he will endorse the convention's choice this year, but earlier this spring he asked the convention committee to distribute a letter in which he described seven qualities a good board member would have.

Among them: a countywide perspective of the school system and its needs and being "free from conflicts of interest with regard to 'special interest groups.' "

The vote is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Old Mill High School. Here are short profiles of the candidates to represent District 31, in the northeast corner of the county, and District 27A/30, the southern end of the county.

District 31

Thomas Twombly

For Thomas Twombly, who is seeking appointment to a second five-year term, controlling spending is the school board's most difficult challenge.

"The issue of an elected school board, in my opinion, stems from the public's desire to see some accountability from board

members," he said. "We need to show our financial mothers and fathers that we are accountable with our finances. I'd like to see us use an auditor as a fiscal watchdog to keep our spending under control."

Mr. Twombly, 38, was elected the board's leader in July 1993, just as relations with employees soured over wages and attempts to identify and prosecute teachers who had allegedly been sexually abusing students.

He had the misfortune to be the one to deliver a lot of bad news to the public, including the resignation of Superintendent C. Berry Carter II.

Mr. Twombly said his best trait as a board member is tenacity.

"Every board needs at least one board member who's tenacious in terms of forcing change, and I think I have been tenacious," he said. "No other board member would have stood up in August and said they need to reduce the size of the school system's administration."

Mr. Twombly, now the board vice president, has an associate of arts degree from Anne Arundel Community College. He attended the University of Maryland through his senior year, but did not graduate. He served in the Army from 1975 through 1978 and went to work as a telecommunications analyst at the National Security Agency. Recently, he won NSA's 1995 citizenship award.

Janet Bury

Janet Bury said she was once "a marginal student" who floated from grade to grade

Today she has a Ph.D. in interpersonal communication from Ohio University and is an assistant professor of speech and communication at Morgan State University in Baltimore. She also coaches Morgan State's debate team.

Dr. Bury, 54, a former VISTA volunteer, said it was her debate coach at Towson State University, Brenda Logue, who inspired her to get her doctorate.

"After I got back from participating in VISTA, I was very serious," said Dr. Bury. "I joined the debate team, and I was going to go to law school and change the world. My coach recognized my abilities and encouraged me when I decided later that I wanted to teach."

Dr. Bury said she never has forgotten her struggles in school and that she wants to work to save other students from the same fate.

"I got involved in this race because I was concerned with the issue of children with special needs," she said.

Dr. Bury began teaching in Baltimore's Catholic schools in the 1960s. In the 1970s she became a college instructor. Before being named assistant professor at Morgan State, she was an adjunct professor at Dundalk and Essex community colleges.

Pamela Napier

Pamela Napier, 30, nearly became a statistic when she was 14.

Pregnant, she dropped out of high school after completing the 10th grade.

"At that time, you didn't see many students who were pregnant, and I decided to go to night school," she recalled recently. Her daughter was born Christmas Day, and after the holiday break Mrs. Napier tried to return to daytime high school.

But she was pregnant again and married. "It was too much," she said.

She dropped out again, but eventually earned her General Equivalency Diploma.

She's been married for 15 years, has four children and works as a program analyst for Agency Services Inc., a financial company. She also is back in school, studying at Anne Arundel Community College for a computer science degree.

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