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For school board: Bailey, Crabb, Hardin, Nipps, Wilfong

October 29, 1998

For any voter, the job of determining who should be elected to the Washington County Board of Education is not an easy one. Of the 10 candidates who made it through the Sept. 15 primary, there isn't one who hasn't served the community in some major way. But because the school board is at a critical point in its journey toward an improved education system - a new superintendent has been hired and a new strategic plan has been written - we had to look beyond past service to choose candidates we felt could move local schools forward. Our choices include:

- Paul Bailey, 64, Kenly Avenue, Hagerstown. This former top school administrator was instrumental, along with the Retired Administrators' Association, in an effort to recruit talented school board candidates, at a time when seemed like there might not be a full slate. Bailey has been critical of the board, but has signaled his willingness to part of the solution, instead of just carping on the sidelines. His understanding of the system from the inside, and of the need for development of methods to methods to measure the effectiveness of new programs, should serve the schools and students well.

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- Gordon Crabb, 68 of Holt Circle, Hagerstown. After being defeated on his first try for a board seat, Crabb refused to give up, attending more than three years' worth of school board meetings, and serving in one of local government's thankless jobs, chairman of the school board's citizens' advisory committee on the budget. He is soft-spoken, but what he says gives evidence that on subjects as diverse as disruptive students and deteriorating buildings, he's done plenty of homework and is capable of telling the voters (and elected officials) unpleasant truths when he feels it's necessary.

- J. Herbert Hardin, 63, of Meadowbrook Road, Hagerstown. He retired as principal of Williamsport High School, after the school board apparently didn't back him on a diciplinary matter there. He knows what it is to be micro-managed, but his campaign gives no evidence his race is focused on paybacks. Instead, he advocates better communication with the school system's funding source, the County Commissioners. He also favors a long-range budget plan and periodic reviews that would eliminate programs that don't meet their goals.

- Doris J. Nipps, 46, of American Way, Hagerstown. This former County Council of PTAs' president backs Superintendent Herman Bartlett Jr., and his dedication to seeing that students in schools all over the county are getting the same materials and quality of instruction. She also had the guts to vote against the reintroduction of elementary instrumental music, not because she opposed the program, but because she first wanted to see a plan for implementation and a budget. Our elected bodies need more people like Nipps, who are less concerned with being popular than they are with doing what's right for our children.

- Mary Wilfong, 61, of Petmar Circle, Hagerstown. The primary's top vote-getter ran in problems after it became known that she had registered to vote for the first time this year, when she filed for office. She's since explained that she didn't vote previously for religious reasons, and that she has served the community and the school system and the community in a variety of positions, including PTA, the Business-Education Committee of Hagerstown/Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the REACH cold-weather shelter for the homeless. She's earned a shot at the next level of involvement.

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