Howard County Executive Ken Ulman on Monday named former school board candidate Larry Walker to fill a board seat that will be vacated when Brian Meshkin steps down Tuesday.
Ulman submitted Walker's name to the Howard County Council, which must approve the appointment. If approved, Walker would serve out the remainder of Meshkin's term — which expires Dec. 1.
Meshkin announced last month he would step down from the board as he prepares to move to California, where his company, Proove Biosciences, is headquartered.
Walker, 56, ran unsuccessfully in 2010, and has served as a member of the school system's operating budget committee and its citizen's advisory council. He is a deputy pastor at Celebration Church in Columbia. He was also chair of the Howard County Redistricting Commission.
"Larry Walker is committed to making our community a better place, and I know he will bring energy, enthusiasm and vision to the school board," Ulman said in a statement.
Said Walker, "I've been involved in school system issues and programs for lots of years. I threw my hat in the ring four years ago, and the election didn't turn out like I would have hoped at the time, but all things work out for a reason."
Walker comes in at a time when the school system, annually one of the highest performing in the state and regarded among the best in the nation, is marred with contentious negotiations between the system and its teachers' union that recently led to impasse.
"I am well aware of some of the key points right now, particularly what appears to be the strife between the union and the administration and board," Walker said. "I've said that if I can help in any way during this interim period, I am willing to do that."
The seat held by Meshkin is among four that being contended in November's election. Eight candidates are running — they were selected from a field of 13 during June's primary. Walker is not among the eight finalists, and can't run to hold the seat this November. He said, for now, he is not considering whether he would run again during the next election cycle.
"My view is on the immediate, short term, what can we do to ensure the system is functioning effectively so that the kids that are in school right now in the fall will get the maximum benefit out of our school system," he said.
County council member Calvin Ball said Ulman's appointment was slated to be introduced during Monday's council session. He said the matter would go through the regular process of a public hearing, and if needed a work session. He said the council would make its decision this month.
"Larry Walker has demonstrated a commitment to education, to our children and the community, and one of his biggest strengths in that he is a dedicated public servant and consensus builder," Ball said. "Right now, those skills are especially important."