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Bailey secures slot in school board general election

Fischer, Harshman to join him

September 15, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE

The only incumbent running to retain his school board seat, Paul W. Bailey, secured one of the six slots for the general election, according to complete but unofficial results from all precincts plus early voting from Tuesday's primary.

Former school board member Jacqueline Fischer and retired teacher Karen J. Harshman also secured spots in the Nov. 2 general election, according to complete but unofficial results.

Three other candidates, including former school board member Russell Williams, appeared to be moving on to the general election, but election officials won't start counting absentee ballots until Thursday.

Six of the 11 candidates for the three Washington County Board of Education seats will move on to the general election.

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According to the Washington County Board of Elections, 1,084 absentee ballots were issued. By the end of Tuesday, 822 had been returned to the election board. Absentee ballots postmarked no later than Sept. 14 will be accepted until Sept. 22.

With the latest figures available Tuesday night, the top six vote-getters in the nonpartisan race were:

o Bailey with 6,887 votes.

o Former school board member Fischer with 6,035 votes.

o Harshman with 5,443 votes.

o Stay-at-home mom Dottie Gruhler with 4,115 votes.

o Hagerstown resident Wayne M. Kretzer Jr. with 3,796 votes.

o Williams with 3,752 votes.

Just 35 votes behind Williams was James W. Staley, with 3,717 votes. Staley's father, William Staley, decided not to run for re-election to the school board, saying he has health issues and is caring for older family members.

"We shall see what tomorrow brings," Williams said after learning the election results. Earlier in the evening, Williams, 67, said he was "astounded" at how well he was doing given his name was listed last on the ballot within the field of 11 candidates.

Williams, a retired teacher, served on the school board from 2002 to 2006.

Bailey, 76, is seeking his fourth term on the board.

"I'm pleased that I'm going to be in the general election and grateful for those who supported me this time around," Bailey said in a phone interview from home. Bailey said his 12 years of experience on the board probably led people to vote for him.

Fischer was keeping track of the election results online at home, while nursing a swollen toe. She was stung by a bee while campaigning near the Fountaindale Elementary School polling place.

Fischer said she suspected name recognition, from her previous experience on the board, helped her garner votes.

"Hopefully, they liked what I did back in 2002 to 2006," said Fischer, 64, who lives west of Hagerstown.

Running for election for the first time, Gruhler was at the election board office Tuesday night, keeping track of incoming results.

"It's really exciting. We met a lot of cool people here, but just the whole process is an awesome learning experience," said Gruhler, 44, who lives north of Smithsburg.

Gruhler was one of several parents who filed an appeal with the Maryland State Department of Education concerning the county school board's redistricting plan during the last school year. Gruhler also filed an appeal last year to halt construction of a new Hagerstown-area primary school, now called Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School.

She withdrew both appeals, but her experiences with redistricting led her to run for school board.

Gruhler said Tuesday that several voters told her they liked what she had to say in letters to the editor and candidate questionnaires that ran in The Herald-Mail.

Harshman, 64, who lives east of Hagerstown, and Kretzer, 42, of Hagerstown, could not be reached for comment.

The three seats available on the seven-member board are those of Bailey, Ruth Anne Callaham and William Staley.

Only Bailey ran to retain his seat.

Callaham was running for Washington County Commissioner. She was among the top five vote-getters, according to complete, but unofficial results.

The other school board candidates were Michael Joe Boyce, Shawn M. Bryce, Francis X. Murray III, and Gary E. Nally.

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