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Hess, Ober are backed for school board seats County caucus nominates pair to governor


Thomas D. Hess of Abingdon and Anne Ober of Jarrettsville have been endorsed by the county's Permanent Nominating Caucus as the top candidates to fill vacancies on the Harford Board of Education.

Hess, 45, who works at the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Baltimore, will be nominated by the caucus to the governor to fill the Abingdon/Edgewood region seat. Ober, 39, director of Health Services for Villa Maria, will be nominated to fill the North Harford region seat.

The governor is not bound to appoint either and can choose from the field of 12 candidates -- one of whom filed as an at-large candidate for either seat -- that have applied for the vacancies. Historically, the governor appoints the nominees of the caucus.

The candidates played to a standing-room-only crowd of about 200 Thursday night at Bel Air United Methodist Church. They spoke briefly about themselves and their plans for county schools and answered questions.

The caucus, which has been in existence for 32 years, includes PTAs, churches and other civic groups. Two delegates from each of the caucus groups voted on the candidates after they spoke.

Dee Schuette, caucus co-chairwoman, said 86 groups, from churches to parent teacher associations, were involved with the caucus this year, up from about 50 last year. She said 83 of the groups sent delegates to the meeting.

Before the meeting started, a number of delegates in the audience remarked among themselves about numerous grammatical and spelling mistakes in some candidates' responses on a questionnaire the caucus had each candidate fill out.

Only five questions were put to the candidates because only 20 minutes was allotted to the question-and-answer session.

The questions ranged from what North Harford candidates thought about the "Jabberwock" play controversy last month at North Harford High in which profanity in the script was deleted by the school superintendent to what candidates thought that ++ schools could do to better prepare average students for the work world.

All delegates vote on candidates running for both seats. In the Abingdon/Edgewood area, Hess received 44 votes, and William Peck, 43. In the North Harford region, Ober received 78 votes and Judi Martin, 47.

The names of the runners-up will also be passed on to the governor for consideration.

Members of the seven-member school board serve five-year terms. They may seek a second term.

The governor is expected to make a decision by June 30. The appointments will fill vacancies left by Richard C. Molinaro and Violet Merryman.

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