Board candidates from area multiply 4 with ties to town seek school position

March 11, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Four school board candidates with connections to Crofton may be too much of a good thing, say the candidates and education activists watching the race.

For a time, it appeared there might be no candidates from Crofton, just as the community was about to lose an ally on the board, Michael A. Pace, who is not seeking re-election.

But by the March 1 filing deadline, three Crofton residents and a former resident had joined the race for the at-large seat that Pace is vacating.

Eight other county residents are vying for the at-large seat, but no other community has as many candidates as Crofton.

The seat is for a countywide representative, but Crofton leaders see the open seat as a chance to put someone on the board who would fight for construction money for Crofton schools and seek other measures to end crowding.

"It's almost too good," Dorothy E. "Sunny" Thornton said of the abundance of Crofton people.

Thornton, who lived in Crofton for 14 years before moving to Heritage Harbor in Annapolis, is one of the candidates. She taught reading at Crofton Woods Elementary School for 12 years.

She and the three other Crofton candidates met Saturday morning at the branch library in Crofton. They agreed to evaluate themselves and to decide this week whether they want to pursue the seat, said James Webster, who helped organize the meeting.

"They have to decide what they are going to do," said Webster, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee at Crofton Elementary School and a delegate to the nominating convention last year.

"We think probably one person should do it," Thornton said. "It could end up we all run, but I have a feeling we think we may end up canceling each other out."

Crofton would have a better chance of sending a candidate to the board if there was only one from the community, said Robert L. Johnston, a real estate agent, who added that he is set on continuing his candidacy.

Board member Thomas E. Florestano of Crofton, who attended the meeting, said three of the candidates should drop out to ensure the best results for Crofton.

"My advice to them, seeing as there's only one position they have a shot at, they ought to walk the plank and decide on one person," Florestano said. With the entire community pushing for one candidate, that person would have "an enormous power base," he said.

Ohlen M. Hunt, a Navy retiree, said he is now more convinced that he is best of the candidates.

Hunt said he is not persuaded that Crofton should field only one candidate. "I just have a lot of faith in the delegate process that the person who is really committed to educational goals across the county is going to come out," he said.

Torrey Jacobsen, treasurer of the Greater Crofton Council, which sought people to run for the school board, agreed. Crofton needs a bigger voice on the school board, but delegates to the convention should be allowed to make the final selection, he said.

The fourth Crofton candidate, Barton Roper, did not return telephone calls to his home.

With an unusually large field of candidates this year, members of the nominating convention have been concerned about providing enough time for delegates to ask questions of the candidates at three scheduled hearings, said Mary Alice Gehrdes, vice president of the convention.

She said the organization may consider changing the structure of the hearings, set for April 8 at Meade High School, April 17 at Annapolis High School and April 23 at Chesapeake High School.

Also, board incumbent Joseph H. Foster of Linthicum is being challenged by John F. Brown Jr. of Glen Burnie for the District 32 seat.

The delegates will vote May 7, and send the names of the top two vote-getters for each seat to the governor, who makes the appointments.

Pub Date: 3/11/97

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