Candidates flock to school board election

April 09, 2008|By David Zenlea | David Zenlea,Special to The Sun

After fearing no one would apply for the two seats up for grabs on the Anne Arundel County School Board, the new School Board Nominating Commission has been flooded with candidates.

A dozen people, including incumbent Tricia L. Johnson, former two-term member Paul Rudolph and retired teachers, are vying for the at-large seat.

Six others, including a former head of the community panel that advises the school board and the president of a limousine company, hope to fill the newly created ninth seat representing state legislative District 32.

The late surge in applicants came as a relief to the fledgling commission, which launched a last-minute e-mail campaign through local organizations to appeal for more candidates.

"We're happy that we've received so many applications," said Chairman Joshua C. Greene. He attributed the initial lack of responses to the transition to a new process.

The School Board Nominating Commission replaces the 250-person nominating caucus, which selected a person for a school board seat whom the governor could either appoint or ignore. Under the new process created through state legislation last year, the 11-member commission has the power to recommend at least two candidates for each vacancy, and the governor must select one. The newly appointed members must go up for a vote in the next general election.

The commission will hold a public hearing Monday night, where the public can meet the candidates and the commissioners can formally question them. Two weeks later, the commission will hear public testimony on the qualifications of the candidates.

Alison Asti, president of the Maryland State Bar Association, was ousted last fall as executive director at the Maryland Stadium Authority amid tension with Gov. Martin O'Malley, but said she hopes the school board process will allow her to prove she is qualified to serve there.

"I feel that I would be fairly evaluated along with the other candidates," she said.

But Jim Snider, a political scientist from Severna Park who is now teaching at Harvard University, doubts the fairness and openness of the process. He criticized the commission for holding its first meetings in private.

Snider, a 2002 school board nominee passed over by then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening, pointed out that the governor selects five of the 11 commissioners, while local interest groups and the county executive choose six.

Del. Mary Ann Love, who leads the county's House delegation, said legislators considered proposing direct election of board members, but found that delegates from counties that already had such a system "were very unhappy with it."

"We thought that maybe we could get a better mix," she said.

david.zenlea@baltsun.com

The "meet the candidates" night will begin at 7 p.m. at the Arundel Center in Annapolis.

SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES

The following 12 people are applying for the at-large seat on the Anne Arundel County School Board:

Alison L. Asti of Pasadena -- president of the Maryland State Bar Association, director of the University System of Maryland Foundation, and until recently, head of the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Marc F. Boensel of Annapolis -- An adjunct professor at local colleges and substitute teacher in county schools, he helped found the Annapolis Wind Symphony.

Walter N. Chitwood III of Annapolis -- A retired county employee who served as an official in Janet S. Owens' administration, former board member of the Annapolis Youth Lacrosse Association and Archbishop Spalding High School Parents Association, and an Army veteran.

Thomas H. Frank of Crofton -- President of a company that develops high-tech medical equipment, member of the Citizens Advisory Committee to the school board and a longtime observer of the school board.

Maria D. Huguley of Severna Park -- A board member of the Volunteer Center for Anne Arundel County who works at the Department of Social Services.

Kevin L. Jackson of Edgewater -- A 1999 graduate of the Naval Academy who works for a company that supports Navy ship modernization and a guest reader at several schools.

Joseph J. Janosky of Churchton -- A substitute teacher in Calvert and Prince George's schools who had a long career as a steel mill chemical analyst.

Tricia L. Johnson of Davidsonville-- The incumbent candidate, she is a longtime schools volunteer, public relations director for the new Lake Presidential Golf Club and executive director of the BWI Development Council.

Evelyn C. Mason of Glen Burnie -- A retired math and county teacher in county schools who served in the Army Reserve.

Paul G. Rudolph of Severna Park -- A Westinghouse retiree and two-term school board member who stepped down in 2006.

Richard A. Streeter of Pasadena -- A Navy reservist and project manager who sits on the Citizens Advisory Committee.

Roberta L. (Kitty) St. Romain of Annapolis -- A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who is a library volunteer and Annapolis chorale member.

Six candidates are seeking the newly created board seat representing legislative District 32:

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