Board names new director of elections

Nordaas, 53, takes over $55,167 post tomorrow

Howard County

September 14, 2004|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Newly retired at 53 and casting about for a new direction, Betty L. Nordaas spent a long March day as a Howard County election judge at Columbia's Phelps Luck Elementary school, and a new career was born.

"It was just so rewarding that day," she said of helping people use the county's new touch-screen machines during the primary.

A few weeks later, she saw a newspaper ad for the vacant Howard County election director's job and decided to apply.

With her long background in telephone company management and advanced degrees in information technology, the job "just seemed like it was a good fit for me," Nordaas said.

The Howard County Board of Elections agreed, and tomorrow, less than seven weeks before the Nov. 2 general election, the 24-year Columbia resident will take over as the county's election director.

Nordaas, a Republican, will be paid $55,167. She was chosen from among 31 applicants, board Chairman Guy L. Harriman said at a news conference yesterday at the county's election board office in Ellicott City.

The board wanted someone experienced with new technology and management skills to prepare the staff of seven for the high-tech future.

"We know that the staff here can carry this election off," Harriman said of the November presidential contest. "We were looking for in-depth management skills and experience. Down the road there will be significant changes in voting and in statewide registration systems."

Board member James E. Poole added that the board also wants more staff development and training.

Nordaas, the mother of four grown sons and a resident of Oakland Mills village, retired in November from a management job at Verizon, capping a 35-year telephone company career that she began as a customer service representative with the old Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. and continued with Bell Atlantic, then Verizon.

She received her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland. She holds an advanced degree in project management from George Washington University and another in information technology management from the Johns Hopkins University, according to the board.

Nordaas replaces Robert J. Antonetti Sr., whose 3 1/2 -year term ended with his retirement March 31.

Deputy Director Evelyn Purcell, acting director for the past five months, will stay on, Harriman said.

Despite the political battle in Annapolis over the attempt to oust Linda Lamone, the state elections board administrator, county board officials said politics played no role in selecting Nordaas for the Howard County job.

"There wasn't any politics involved in it," said Poole, the lone Democrat on the county's election board.

Harriman, a Republican, said he didn't ask Nordaas' party affiliation and didn't know it until yesterday morning, when he asked her. Nordaas said she has not been active in political life but is "thrilled" with the new job.

"I feel like it's one of the most important jobs for the nation," she said.

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