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School Board winners say endorsements helped

November 08, 2000

School Board winners say endorsements helped



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Three of the four candidates elected to the Washington County Board of Education on Tuesday had been endorsed by at least four local organizations, including the teachers association, an indication that the strong backing could have been a force behind the victories, according to members of the groups.

Group members also said the endorsements were in line with the feelings of the majority of county residents.

The top three vote-getters, Bernadette Wagner, Roxanne Ober and Edward Forrest were all endorsed by the Washington County Teachers Association, the Washington County School Bus Contractor's Association, The Washington County Retired School Administrators and the Central Maryland AFL-CIO Council.

"It wasn't just our individual endorsement that had the impact," said Sharon Chirgott, president of the teachers association. "Everybody endorsed the same four candidates. When you get that kind of support, it makes you think, hey, there's some reason for this."

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School Board candidate Russell Williams was also endorsed by the organizations but fell short to incumbent Doris Nipps by 511 votes. There's a chance Williams could dethrone Nipps when absentee ballots are counted today, but he said he doesn't think it's likely.

Wagner received the most votes at 25,110, Ober got 24,543 and Forrest received 18,050. Nipps finished the night with 15,699 votes, nearly 10,000 behind Wagner and Ober. Williams received 15,188 votes.

Eight candidates vied for four open seats on the seven-member board.

Incumbents Andrew Humphreys and Edwin Hayes and challenger John Cohen were not elected. Humphreys received 11,936 votes, Hayes received 11,545 and Cohen tallied 10,189.

Terry Hovermale, president of the School Bus Contractor's Association, said his group's decision to endorse the newcomers was pretty much the same as the others.

"We felt it was time for a change," he said.

Hovermale said the contractors were unhappy with the way the current School Board communicates with the public, a major issue in the School Board race. He thinks the new members will support open dialogue with the community.

"We were dissatisfied with the lack of action and the board not getting back to people," he said.

"They're a breath of fresh air," Chirgott said. "The candidates supported some of the ideas that we have. We can anticipate some change."

Wagner, Ober and Forrest will join three board members who each have two years experience. Nipps will become the senior member on the board with six years experience.

Both Hovermale and Chirgott were holding out hope Williams could pull ahead of Nipps when absentee ballots are counted today beginning at 10 a.m. in the second floor conference room in the Washington County Board of Elections.

According to the Board of Elections, 2,641 absentee ballots were sent out and 2,424 had been returned as of Tuesday night.

"We may yet have all four of them," Hovermale said.

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