April 4, 2012
The voters have spoken on the Howard County Board of Education, though what they said is perhaps open to interpretation. One newcomer who promises to shake things up won big, as did a couple of other newcomers who also ran as outsiders. But two incumbents who are both part of the establishment also won big, while the third incumbent, the ultimate outsider, lost. And then there's the unpleasant reality that so few of the voters bothered to make their voices heard at all, a weak turnout that was not unexpected but which makes reading too much into the results risky.
Despite all that, one message from the voters came through loud and clear: They are sick and tired of board member Allen Dyer.
While the other two incumbents, Janet Siddiqui and Ellen Giles, finished first and third respectively among the 15 candidates, Dyer finished eighth, a piteous performance by an incumbent, and was knocked out of the race even before making it to the general election.
We have endorsed Dyer in the past, praising him for his willingness to rock the boat and to bring more openness and light to a board too often enamored of secrecy and darkness. But if Dyer's time on the board proved one thing, it's that he best serves the county as an outsider, someone who can lob his angry complaints and file his protests and lawsuits without tying the board up in knots. As an insider, his prickly, confrontational ways threatened the work of the entire board.
The voters' decision to unceremoniously toss out Dyer points up another fact as well: The silliness of the board's move to kick Dyer off the board by impeaching him. That impeachment process, still working its way through the system, was a nuclear option out of all proportion to Dyer's sins. More to the point, ousting Dyer was a decision best left up to the people who elected him. And, it turns out, that's exactly what happened.