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Grassby hopes to bring new voice to panel

January 07, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Richard Paul Grassby has experience in the field of education, having taught at Oxford University for 20 years, but he said he does not expect his candidacy for a seat on the Washington County Board of Education to survive the primary election.

Grassby, 68, said he felt an obligation to run for the school board after reading news reports that indicated only three people might run for four open seats.

Grassby, who lives on Cearfoss Pike, is one of 16 people who filed to run in the primary.

He said he would be amazed if he was a winner in the March 2 primary. Eight of the candidates will go on to run in the Nov. 2 general election.

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Grassby was born in India and raised in Wales. He did his undergraduate work and received a master's degree from Oxford University.

Grassby went on to teach economic history at Oxford for 20 years and also taught at Princeton University, he said.

After leaving Oxford, Grassby worked for financial companies on Wall Street for about 20 years, he said.

Grassby came to the Washington, D.C., area while working at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution. He and his wife moved to Hagerstown about two years ago.

Grassby retired at age 65, but remains active running a store, Wild Rose Antiques, and writing historical nonfiction books, he said. He has had five books published in the last 10 years, he said.

Grassby said he does not know much about the Washington County Board of Education beyond the education coverage he reads in the newspapers.

He said he knows board members must deal with complicated issues and mandates, and said he does not think he would have trouble getting up to speed on those matters.

"But that is just a matter of doing your homework," Grassby said. "Most people who take on this job when they start are pretty green."

Grassby said he is familiar with some educational issues from his work on the faculty at Oxford, but is not sure how helpful that knowledge will be on the school board.

Why should people vote for him?

"I am someone who is willing and able to do the job. I have no vested interest," Grassby said. "I have a completely open mind."

He said he would be able to provide a different perspective and voice than, for instance, former employees of the school system.

Grassby understands the importance of education and, if elected, would work to make sure the school board was the best possible, he said.

"It is the most important responsibility that government provides," Grassby said. "The main objective of any school system is to prepare everyone, all in the community," by providing them with as high a level of education as possible.

If elected, Grassby would work to get increased government funding for the school board, but said he thinks that probably would require some form of tax increase.

Grassby said he does not know enough about local government budgets to be more specific.

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