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Three newcomers win Board seats

November 08, 2000

Three newcomers win Board seats



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Three newcomers and one incumbent won seats on the Washington County Board of Education in Tuesday's general election.

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Bernadette Wagner and Roxanne Ober were the top vote-getters by a wide margin, followed by W. Edward Forrest. Doris Nipps, 48, the only incumbent to win a seat, trailed Wagner by nearly 10,000 votes, according to complete but unofficial results.

Wagner and Ober campaigned as a team and shared campaign finances. Voters had the opportunity to vote for both or one or the other. They will take up two seats on the board.

"I hope it's good news for the children of Washington County," Ober, 40, said when reached at home Tuesday night. "We're very pleased. It was a great grassroots effort on behalf of the community."

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Wagner, 43, said the victory showed the two had support from a diverse group of voters.

"I'm very excited," Forrest, 37, said. "I was anxious all the way to the end. I never had any doubts, or I wouldn't have done it."

Eight candidates were vying for four open seats. Three incumbents were up for re-election, and a fourth seat was left open by B. Marie Byers, who decided to step down after 30 years. She has been on the School Board since she was appointed in 1970.

Challenger Russell Williams, 57, of Hagerstown came in a close fifth, 511 votes behind Nipps.

Williams did not expect absentee ballots to put him ahead of Nipps.

"I wouldn't bet money on it," he said.

Nipps, on the other hand, said she hopes the absentee ballots follow Tuesday's balloting.

"Then I'll have a seat on the Board of Education, and that would make me happy," Nipps said. "I predicted that it would be close."

According to the Washington County Board of Elections, 2,641 absentee ballots were sent out and 2,424 have been returned. They will be counted Thursday.

Wagner was the top vote-getter at 25,110, Ober came in second at 24,543 and Forrest came in third with 18,050 votes. Nipps was next with 15,699 votes. Williams received 15,188 votes.

Incumbents turned out of office were Edwin Hayes, 46, of Williamsport, who received 11,545 votes and Andrew Humphreys, 45, of Hagerstown, who received 11,936 votes. John Cohen also lost, receiving 10,189 votes.

Hayes, Humphreys and Cohen could not be reached for comment.

Nipps said she was pleased that she didn't have to spend a lot of money on her campaign to get her point across.

"Some candidates spent a large amount of money," said Nipps, who spent less than $1,000. "I really do believe that the votes were from people who knew me and my time spent on the board. It wasn't through large advertising that I got their votes." Ober and Wagner raised nearly $15,000 and spent almost $12,000 on their election bid.

The position pays $4,800 a year. The board president receives $100 more.

Ober said the money spent on their campaign wasn't the only factor that made the two the top vote-getters.

"We did a good job trying to get our message out," she said. "We did receive money, and that was indicative of people's support. We used other methods and spent the money very wisely."

The new board members will be sworn in on Dec. 5. They will join three board members whose terms don't expire for two years.

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