School board's French is leading Ballot results for incumbent, Waters mirror primary

Election 1998

November 04, 1998|By Erika D. Peterman | Erika D. Peterman,SUN STAFF

Incumbent Sandra H. French appeared headed for re-election to the Howard County school board last night, and former school teacher Laura Waters was leading two other candidates vying for a second seat.

French was ahead with 37.39 percent of the vote; Waters had 23.85 percent of the vote with 85 of 87 precincts reporting.

Early results followed the pattern from the September primary, where French and Waters led a field of seven candidates. Engineer Arthur Neal Willoughby and transportation manager Glenn Amato, the other primary election winners, had 20.06 and 18.36 percent, respectively.

The election -- which will influence the search for a new superintendent after Michael E. Hickey retires in two years -- featured candidates with vastly different philosophies and concerns, ranging from improved student discipline to increased technology instruction to making school officials more responsive to parents.

French, a 54-year-old Ellicott City resident who won about 33 percent of the vote in September, said she wanted to continue the work she began in 1992. French also has said that her long background in education helped her to keep her original campaign promise "to keep all children first in the decisions."

Student discipline has been at the core of 51-year-old Water's campaign, and she has criticized the school system's code of conduct as being too vague. Waters believes today's students are more unruly than they were a decade ago, and has often said that gifted students are among the worst offenders.

"I feel like I've done just about everything I can," the Columbia resident said of her campaign. "There were seven people running before; now they're only four. I think everybody gets nervous at this point."

Willoughby, a Department of Defense engineer who also teaches civil engineering at Morgan State University in Baltimore, has promoted his math and science background as his qualifications for school board. Besides calling for better technology education for Howard County students, Willoughby also said he would push for stronger physical education and music programs.

"I feel pretty good," the 40-year-old Jessup resident said Monday of his chances. "I think Columbia and Howard County will make the correct choice for the future for our children."

rTC Amato's campaign has been the most controversial.

The 42-year-old Elkridge area resident has publicly challenged Hickey and school board members over an ongoing dispute involving his son. Amato said the school system failed to educate his son, Gordon, who has dyslexia and attention-deficit disorder. The boy attends a private school for learning-disabled children, which costs $15,800 a year.

The candidate has said that the school system should pay for the sixth-grader's private education because he did not learn basic reading and math skills during the years he attended Howard County schools. Amato spent the early part of the day in a meeting with his attorney.

But much of the race for school board -- which is a six-year term and pays $9,900 annually -- remained a low-key affair.

Cynthia Rome, a 46-year-old federal employee who lives in Columbia, described the race as "kinda boring." However, she said she voted for Willoughby because "he's more than qualified for the job than some of the other candidates and he's a bit outside of that loop, so he'll bring something fresh to the race."

Pub Date: 11/04/98

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