Baltimore County

After a final rush, 15 candidates file to compete for three school board positions

Fifteen candidates, including three incumbents and one former board member, have filed for the 2012 Howard County Board of Education elections. The last candidate to file by Wednesday's 9 p.m. deadline was Mary Jo Neil of West Friendship.

The influx of candidates this week guarantees an April primary.

Patricia Gordon, of Ellicott City, who served on the board for 10 years before retiring in 2010, filed to run Tuesday,

"I'd like to be part of a board, as I was before, that's highly effective and works together," Gordon said. "When I was on the board, for the most part we did that, and I would like to see that continue. … Anyone who follows the news and follows (the board) on television understands there have been problems with the board getting in sync."

Board member Allen Dyer, of Ellicott City, filed on Friday, Jan. 6, joining incumbents Ellen Giles, of North Laurel, and Janet Siddiqui, of Columbia, in a run for re-election.

Dyer has served on the board since 2008. He has been involved in several lawsuits against the board, both before and during his term, and last year his fellow board members asked the Maryland State Board of Education to remove him from the board. Hearings in that case are scheduled to begin in May.

On Wednesday, candidates who filed included David Gertler, of Ellicott City, who lost in the 2010 primary, Corey Andrews, a Howard High School senior, and Owen Hanratty and Jim Adams, both Ellicott City residents.

Candidates that filed Tuesday included former candidate Bob Ballinger, of Ellicott City, Columbia residents Jackie Scott and Kelly Casey Van Horn, and Elkridge resident Olga Butler.

Rounding out the list of contenders is Ann De Lacy, of Columbia, and Leslie Kornreich, of Hanover.

The wide array of candidates is a far cry from the limited field that existed only a week ago when, with only five candidates filed, a primary was uncertain. With candidates like De Lacy, Gordon, Scott and Butler — all black — and candidates from parts of the county currently unrepresented on the board, like Columbia and Elkridge, voters will have a diverse base from which to chose.

This summer, County Executive Ken Ulman established a commission, headed by former State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick, to study ways to foster diversity on the seven-member board. The commission recommended that five members of the board be elected by district, with two members being appointed by the county executive. It was a cause taken up by Del. Frank Turner, who planned to introduce legislation changing the make-up of the board to the General Assembly. However, after strong public backlash, Turner withdrew the bill.

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