Attorney tops list for board


A White House attorney from Millersville is the School Board Nominating Convention's top choice to succeed Paul G. Rudolph on the Anne Arundel County Board of Education.

The names of Victor E. Bernson Jr., and second-place vote-getter Thomas H. Frank will also be forwarded to the governor for approval, but Bernson should not have a problem getting it: Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. appointed him earlier this year to the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

"I'm ecstatic, but the process isn't over yet," Bernson said. "I hope the nature of the vote count will help persuade the governor that I'm his guy."

Bernson, one of four candidates for the unpaid position, received votes from 60 of 117 delegates representing 55,000 people at a convention held Wednesday at Arundel High School.

In the weeks prior, the candidates took questions from delegates at three two-hour hearings.

"I think [Bernson] did an excellent job of conveying his views and ... of campaigning," said Mark Fontaine, chairman of the convention.

Fontaine said the most frequently asked-about topics included redistricting, the school board's relationship with the superintendent, aging school facilities and teachers' raises.

Bernson, 41, works as general counsel for the White House Office of Administration. His two high-school-age children attend St. Mary's, a private school in Annapolis, but Bernson said that would not affect his ability to serve on the school board. He pointed out that his children attended Severna Park Middle.

"It's not a reflection or indictment of the local high school," Bernson said. "For our kids, Severna Park High School was too large." He also said that as active Catholics, his family is happy with the religious opportunities at the private school.

Bernson also serves on the state higher education commission. The Maryland Senate confirmed him about six weeks ago.

Frank, 62, of Crofton, has two grown children who graduated from Arundel High School and is a frequent speaker at school board meetings.

The other candidates were Dean A. Cook, 36, of Crofton and Joseph Hebler, 49, of Severna Park.

The governor must name a replacement for Rudolph, who is completing his second five-year term, by July 1.

Rudolph's seat is one of seven on the board that will be vacated then. The eighth goes to a high school student chosen by her peers.

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