3 candidates for school board to face panel Nominating group holds 1st of 3 hearings at 7 p.m. Tuesday

Gary also maneuvering

As county executive focuses on spending, hopefuls talk money

March 31, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The county's School Board Nominating Convention hearings open Tuesday, against a backdrop of County Executive John G. Gary's political maneuvering to wrest appointment power from the governor.

But because legislation pending in the House and Senate uses the nominating convention as a starting point, community focus remains on it and on the three candidates who want to represent Legislative District 33 on the school board.

Vying for the five-year appointment that will begin July 1 are Zoe B. Draughon, 37, of Odenton; Doman O. McArthur, 37, of Millersville; and Paul G. Rudolph, 63, of Severna Park.

In a season when Mr. Gary has criticized the school system for how it spends its budget, the candidates are talking about fiscal accountability, spending plans, economizing and other dollar-driven priorities.

"I have a real appreciation for what education can do. I grew up a poor boy in Texas," said Mr. McArthur, a Naval Academy graduate and former instructor there who is a legislative aide to Republican Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana.

He said the school board must set and adjust priorities and rely on persuasion to enlarge its budget.

"Because they are not directly elected, members of the school board must respect the prerogatives of those who answer directly to the voters," he said in response to a Nominating Convention questionnaire.

Ms. Draughon, a paralegal, said the school board needs to budget judiciously and ensure that student needs are met, especially for textbooks. In her daughter's school, she said, "there weren't enough textbooks to go around in a class where they put five computers."

In addition, she said "the construction side needs to run like a business. The education side is more subjective."

The school construction program has been beset by inefficiencies and more than $7 million in cost overruns during the past two years.

Ms. Draughon is a plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging violations of the state's open meetings regulations by a board committee involved in redistricting, and she opposes a plan that would change the elementary school her children and others from Seven Oaks subdivision would attend.

Mr. Rudolph is a retired Westinghouse engineer who said he can bring a background in industry, management of multimillion-dollar programs and an understanding of technology to the post. He could not be reached for an interview.

"We have to accept that we are in a period of budget restraints. New money will not be available," he said in a statement to the Nominating Convention. "The board will have to be disciplined and innovative to stretch the available dollars."

Spending on technology is crucial, he said, but only if it is well thought-out.

Exactly how many voting delegates and other county residents the candidates will face Tuesday is unknown.

So far, 125 delegates are registered, said Mary Alice Gehrdes, a member of the Nominating Convention committee. That is twice as many as this time last year. Typically, as many delegates register at the hearings as in advance, which would put the number well above last year's 160.

Delegates are concerned that Gov. Parris N. Glendening pick a candidate recommended by the convention, as he did last year. Previous governors have ignored the convention's nominations, costing the convention support among civic groups.

"I think they are in a much stronger position. They went through the process last year, and the governor picked off the lists," said Democratic Del. Michael E. Busch of Annapolis.

The hearing, which start at 7 p.m., are scheduled Tuesday at North County High School, April 10 at Southern Senior High School and April 18 at Annapolis Senior High School. The convention, when delegates vote, will be May 8 at Old Mill Senior High School.

Elected officials are at loggerheads over the appointment issue. The House bill would keep the appointment power with the governor, while the Senate bill would give it to the county executive.

Pub Date: 3/31/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.