School board victory decisive Incumbents win by margin of 2-to-1

Ballard, Mish re-elected

Endorsements by GOP clubs raise questions

November 07, 1996|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

The victory of school board incumbents Ann M. Ballard and Joseph D. Mish Jr. was a decisive one Tuesday -- they won by a margin of nearly 2-to-1.

But several questions linger in the aftermath, including the propriety of Republican clubs' endorsing candidates in a nonpartisan race.

Although the Carroll County Republican Central Committee remained neutral in the race, a few of the autonomous clubs endorsed and contributed money to the campaigns of challengers William M. Bowen Jr. and Jerry L. Brunst.

"There were some people upset over the fact that the clubs gave money to the candidates, which they've never done before," said Gary Bauer, a school board member and longtime active Republican from Hampstead.

That's perfectly legal and up to each club, said Tom Bowen (who is not related to William Bowen), chairman of the central committee. He said he thought clubs had made endorsements in nonpartisan races before but that he could think of no instances when that had happened.

Others, including Bauer and fellow board member C. Scott Stone, said it is an issue that needs to be addressed. Stone said some party members are talking about adding bylaws that would prohibit such endorsements.

"In my opinion, I don't think it's proper," Bauer said. "It's a nonpartisan race."

William Bowen said, "My feeling is, when you have an election, it's hard to keep it nonpartisan. Politics is partisan."

Stone, a member of the Carroll County Republican Club, which gave $500 each to Bowen and Brunst, said he was concerned that the perception that Bowen and Brunst were "the Republican candidates" led to some people's failing to realize that the race was nonpartisan.

Stone worries that because of the candidates' poor showing at the polls and their controversial stands, such a perception might hurt the GOP's standing in Carroll.

Tom Bowen said he had not been approached directly about the issue but that he had heard secondhand from three or four people. "As far as I'm concerned, it's a moot point. The clubs are autonomous and can do what they want to do," he said.

The Carroll Republican Club also gave Mish, a registered Republican, $500, but Mish returned the money in protest.

Tuesday night, when the results were in, Mish made a point to stop in at post-election parties for both the Democrats and the Republicans. He was an active Democrat in Carroll before switching parties, based mostly on social and moral issues important to him as an evangelical Christian.

"Without the Democratic support this time, I probably wouldn't have been elected," Mish said.

Ballard, the only registered Democrat running in the school board race, got the most votes. In partisan races, Democrats almost never win in Carroll. Mish said Ballard's strong lead in every precinct might have been a reaction from Republican voters who resented the partisanship that entered this race and viewed her as above the fray.

"I think a lot of voters were totally disgusted with that," Mish said.

Bowen and Brunst could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Their fiscally conservative message was winning supporters in Carroll as the campaign season began, and supporters of Mish and Ballard were getting nervous. But Mish said he and others sensed a shift in public opinion away from Bowen and Brunst about three weeks ago.

"I think it was probably the [League of Women Voters of Carroll County] forum and Mr. Bowen's crude remarks," Mish said.

At the televised forum, Bowen had said people had a clear choice. They could vote for "B&B or the BMs," he said. Bowen said later that he never intended the "BM" remark to be scatological, as most people perceived it to be.

But at the end of the forum, as Ballard was about to begin her closing remarks, she said that as Bowen "shoved" the microphone to her, he said, "You're a real pain." Bowen later said that he told her, "Don't be such a pain."

Ballard said that as she visited polling places Tuesday, several people -- especially women -- mentioned those remarks and said they were offended by them. Many said they voted only for her even though they could have voted for two candidates.

"I think Ann got the women's sympathy vote," said Mish.

Pub Date: 11/07/96

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