Time, media deter people from School Board run

July 09, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The hefty time commitment and treatment by The Herald-Mail are the two biggest reasons few people are running for the Washington County Board of Education, board members say.

Three candidates are running for three open seats on the School Board this year, the least number of candidates since 1992, when three candidates ran for two open seats on the board, according to Washington County Board of Elections records.

Board Vice President Bernadette Wagner said she asked about seven people if they would consider running for School Board but none of them did.


"I had people say they wouldn't want the time commitment and other people say they would not want to put up with the criticism of The Herald-Mail," said Wagner, whose term ends in 2004.

"The time commitment would be very difficult, plus the lack of respect from the community and the newspaper," said Alice Barr, who was one of the people Wagner asked to run for the School Board.

Board member J. Herbert Hardin, who is running for Washington County Commissioner instead of another term on the School Board, said he asked 35 people to consider running for the School Board.

"The public says they don't want to go through what we went through. The print media has really been harsh on the Board of Education," Hardin said.

Hardin said the "negative publicity" the School Board receives in the newspaper was a factor in his decision not to seek re-election. He said he wants to be a County Commissioner so he can help the county deal with population growth.

Board member Mary Wilfong, who also holds one of the three board seats that will be filled in the Nov. 5 election, said she decided not to seek re-election because of the time commitment and because the school system is in good hands.

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan and the other members of the school system staff are "very capable people," she said.

Newspaper coverage of the School Board helped reassure Wilfong that she did not want to run again.

Board member Paul Bailey is the only incumbent seeking re-election to the seven-member board. The other candidates are Russell Williams and Jacqueline Fischer.

Bailey and Fischer said they do not know why there are so few candidates.

Bailey said maybe the pay is a factor. Board members are paid $4,800 annually, and the board president is paid $4,900 a year.

Fischer said the time commitment could be a factor. She said newspaper coverage of the School Board did not affect her decision to run.

Fischer said she's disappointed more people aren't running.

"It means less work for me campaigning but I'd like to think I'm electable, not just the only one willing to do it," Fischer said.

Williams could not be reached for comment.

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