Club votes to withhold school board endorsement Candidate decides against seeking Democrats' support

September 12, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

The Columbia Democratic Club voted last night not to make an endorsement in the Howard County school board election after one of the two candidates for the open seat decided not to seek the club's support.

Jane B. Schuchardt, a retired teacher, said in a written statement that she is "an educator, not a politician" and requested that the club remove her name from consideration for endorsement because the school board race is "too important to be subject to partisan politics."

Schuchardt's decision left the club with just one name to consider -- Francine Wishnick, who was the top vote-getter of five candidates in the March primary. But she did not win the club's endorsement. Of 21 votes last night, 11 were for no endorsement and nine for Wishnick, with one abstention.

"Maybe it's the right position for the party to take in a nonpartisan school board race," said Wishnick, who attended the meeting. "Early on, I thought it was inappropriate because it confuses the voters."

Wishnick, a community activist, won the club's endorsement in the primary. She faces primary runner-up Schuchardt in the Nov. 5 general election.

In the judicial race, the club endorsed -- without a vote -- sitting Circuit Judges Donna Hill Staton and Diane O. Leasure.

Because the two judges won the Democratic primary, they were "automatically endorsed" by the club, said President James B. Kraft.

"Whoever wins the Democratic primary is our ticket," he added.

Hill Staton and Leasure will face off in November against challengers Lenore Gelfman, now a District Court judge, and attorney Jonathan Scott Smith. They won the Republican primary.

The Columbia Democratic Club's balloting was the judicial and school board candidates' first opportunity for an endorsement in the fall campaign season.

However, since Wishnick did not win the club's endorsement in the school board race, "she has lost some benefits," Kraft said.

"The party plans to put hundreds of volunteers on the streets working for Democrats," he said. "Had Fran gotten our endorsement, they would have been working for her, too."

Schuchardt and Wishnick are running for the school board seat of Chairwoman Susan Cook, who decided not to seek a second term. The winner will serve a six-year term with a $9,000 annual salary.

Pub Date: 9/12/96

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