Well, if I happen to get a chance to speak to Governor O’Malley tomorrow I’ll have to thank him for granting our wish and selecting the two best candidates for the Republican seats on the Wicomico County Board of Education. Of the three we interviewed, we decided Michelle Wright and Carolyn Elmore were the better choices. As of last week, those two became members of the board for five-year terms.
Yet perhaps there’s an end game to this. Consider the following scenario: two people the Republicans didn’t interview and who may not even be Republicans are instead selected to the board. It’s a surefire method for fueling the drive toward an elected school board. Obviously the issue has a partisan divide, given the vote for County Council’s adoption of the resolution to ask for the introduction of the bill allowing the straw ballot was a 6-1 party-line vote and the person chiefly responsible for stopping it in the General Assembly – despite our testimony in favor – is Democrat Norm Conway.
On the other hand, picking the two we favor makes the question somewhat moot in that we got our choices selected, so why should we complain?
That’s not the point. Yes, I’m pleased that the Governor’s Appointments Secretary saw things our way in this instance. But this is about a principle – the idea that the people know better who should be the stewards of their tax money as members of the Board of Education than a governor in far-off Annapolis or even those party regulars select to represent their interests as a Central Committee.
I suspect the winners in a contested Board of Education district election here in Wicomico County would receive just as many votes as I did (2,139) to place ninth in a countywide election. (In the 2010 general election, all but one district council member did just that. The other won by two votes out of 4,072 cast.) And instead of just voters who declared a particular party affiliation getting the say, it will be up to everyone – Republicans, Democrats, minor parties, and unaffiliated voters each have their equal vote in a general election. Sure, as a Republican I’d love to see a conservative body elected because I think it would reflect the county politically. But others may feel differently.
In short, I’m not stopping the push for an elected board and I think my cohorts on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee would agree. While I believe the selection of Carolyn Elmore and reappointment of Michelle Wright are victories for those who want a sound, fiscally conservative school board, I’d be willing to bet if they stuck their necks out on the line for election and won they would have a more sturdy platform from which to enact needed changes. (It should be noted, though, that not all of those we interviewed were interested in the post if it became an elected one.)
I was assured by Delegate McDermott a couple months back that the bill allowing our straw vote would be reintroduced earlier, if not prefiled. This time we want a clean bill with an up-or-down vote on whether the school board should be an elected body – none of that hybrid hokum. After the reaction to his stance the other night on the toll increases, it may behoove Delegate Conway to let that bill slip through unmolested.