Governor names 4 to Board of Education

But Jim Snider, top choice of nominating panel, is passed over

May 22, 2002|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening appointed four new members to the county Board of Education yesterday -- but passed over the nominee who received the most votes at the county's school board nominating convention, in favor of a businessman recommended by County Executive Janet S. Owens.

Konrad M. Wayson -- owner of a landscape business and officer in a South County construction firm -- was named to the at-large seat effective July 1 instead of Jim Snider, top choice at last month's nominating convention, which is made up of delegates from citizens groups.

Wayson, who comes from a prominent South County family, will replace Vaughn L. Brown, who decided not to seek a second term.

Wayson is president of Childs Landscape and secretary-treasurer of Hopkins and Wayson, a Lothian construction firm. The company was awarded a $148,000 contract by the school board this year for the demolition of Glendale Elementary School, according to the school system Web site.

Also named to the board were Eugene Peterson, 52, of Laurel, president of the Anne Arundel County Council of PTAs, and Edward Carey, 40, chief of the Maryland Aviation Administration, who has served as president of the Brooklyn Park Elementary School PTA.

Peterson, who takes office July 1, was appointed to the District 32 seat being vacated by Joseph H. Foster, who is completing his second five-year term and cannot be reappointed.

Carey will serve out the remainder of the late Janet Bury's District 31 term, which began in July 2000. She died in April.

Ashley Nathanson, a junior at Arundel High School, will serve as the student representative on the board next year. She is ranked first in her class and serves as her school's student government vice president.

Owens consulted

Glendening made his selections after consulting with Owens and state legislators from Anne Arundel County, his spokesperson said.

He is not bound by the selections of the nominating convention, which recommended that Peterson and Snider fill the seats of the two board members whose spots become vacant in July.

Wayson, a 41-year-old lifetime county resident, is a graduate of Southern High School and Salisbury State University and lives in Harwood with his wife and two teen-age sons. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Matt Diehl, a spokesman for Owens, said that the county executive recommended Wayson because of his experience in the construction business and his work on the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation. Owens appointed him chairman of the organization's board of directors in 1999, after revelations that some board members had engaged in questionable loan practices.

"When he came aboard he did some reshaping, and helped, along with Bill Badger [the corporation's chief executive officer] and a number of other people, to get a focus and really attract business to Anne Arundel County," Diehl said.

Snider, 43, of Severna Park, is a fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank, and served two terms on the elected school board in Burlington, Vt. He has three children in county public schools.

Snider `quite surprised'

Snider said he received a call from the governor's office yesterday morning, letting him know that he did not get the board appointment.

"I was really quite surprised, because I have talked to many people, including school board members and public officials, who treated it as a done deal," Snider said. "So I was surprised to find out that it wasn't a done deal, and also surprised to find out that she [Owens] did what she did and felt as strongly as she did."

"From my perspective it was quite startling," he said. "Because if there was one candidate who had a strong financial and construction background it was me."

In addition to a master's degree from the Harvard Business School, Snider said that he once worked in the family business, a design and construction firm in Sudbury, Mass.

Snider said he couldn't help but wonder if his wife's involvement in the parents' group Coalition for Balanced Excellence in Education had something to do with Owens' recommendation to the governor. As chairwoman of the group, Terra Ziporyn Snider led the effort to force the county school system to require middle school pupils to take physical education and fine arts every year, as the state requires.

The state Board of Education agreed with the group -- over the objections of county school officials -- and in September ordered the county school board to include the courses in pupils' schedules.

"On the education front the coalition has been in the hair of the school system," Snider said.

Diehl, however, said that Terra Ziporyn Snider's role in educational issues played no role in Owens' decision.

This is the fourth time in the nominating convention's 27-year history that a governor has passed over a candidate recommendation, said Mark Fontaine, chairman of the convention committee. He said it was the first time that Glendening has not appointed a convention-backed candidate.

"We're disappointed that the governor didn't see his way clear to support the convention candidates completely," Fontaine said. "But we appreciate his support, and we wish Mr. Wayson all the best."

The governor's rejection of Snider stunned parent Sue Wincek, of Severna Park, who said she strongly supported him after attending the three candidate forums held last month by the nominating convention committee. The forums provided an opportunity for the nominees to explain why they wanted to be on the board and answer questions from the public.

"This is a candidate who has a child in each level of the school system, has been on a school board before, who has a financial degree and who has worked in construction," Wincek said. "He's an independent thinker, and I think that's what they don't want. They want a school board that will do what Janet Owens says, and I don't think that's right."

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