A professor and a former county police officer won the endorsement of delegates to the Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Convention last night, clearing the first hurdle on the road to appointment to the eight-member panel.
Janet Bury, an assistant professor of speech and communication at Morgan State University in Baltimore, garnered 44 votes for the District 31 seat now held by Thomas Twombly.
Mr. Twombly and another challenger, Nancy M. Schrum, tied with 33 votes each. The fourth candidate, Pamela Napier, received four votes.
In the race for the District 29A/30 seat being vacated by Dorothy Chaney, Michael McNelly, who retired after 26 years with the county Police Department, won with 69 votes. David H. Ready came in second with 32 votes, and Francis A. "Paco" DeBartolomeo had 14 votes, losing his third run for a school board seat.
By convention tradition, the names of the first- and second-place winners will be forwarded to the governor, who makes the appointments.
"Let's talk about how surprised I am," Dr. Bury said. "I just did not think I was going to win. I thought perhaps I was too focused on the position of teachers."
In her final speech to the delegates just before the voting last night, the 54-year-old professor said the main concern of board members and parents should be teachers and what's happening in classrooms.
"There have been many words spoken last month by all of us," she said, gesturing toward the other candidates. "I invite you to look at my life. It's the strongest argument I can offer to gain your support."
Mrs. Schrum, 40, received the most votes at the convention last year, but Thomas E. Florestano, the former president of Anne Arundel Community College, was appointed to the board instead.
"It didn't surprise me that Mr. Twombly and I tied for votes, because we are both agents of change," Mrs. Schrum said. "With all due respect to Dr. Bury, I think she got the teacher vote. But Mr. Twombly and I both believe in teachers, too."
Mr. Twombly, 38, seeking appointment to a second five-year term, said he wasn't disappointed with the tie. "This process has many twists and turns," he said.
In the District 29A/30 race, Mr. McNelly, 49, said he was relieved the nominating process was finished.
"We all knew going in that there were outside factors," he said. "But we were willing to put ourselves in front of people in the community for the sake of the children of Anne Arundel County."
One "outside factor" is whether the governor will endorse the convention's top vote-getters or select two other names on the list.
Seven times in the last 12 years, the governor has rejected the convention's first choice, relying on the advice of the county executive.