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Finney deserves school seat


Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall shouldn't have to think twice about who to recommend for a soon-to-be-vacant school board seat. He should tell the governor to appoint Carlesa Finney.

She's bright, qualified and articulate. And she was such an overwhelming favorite at the recent School Board Nominating Convention that not choosing her would amount to a slap in the convention's face.

Ms. Finney received 113 votes, 80 more than runner-up Elizabeth Greene and more than all four of her competitors combined. That includes incumbent Vincent Leggett, who, with only 31 votes, correctly perceives that it is time for him to go.

Ms. Finney has many things going for her. Her background makes her well-suited to make decisions for school children and their education. She is deputy chief executive officer of the Family and Community Services Division of the Community Action agency, holds a master's in education and has been active in a variety of activities touching directly on school issues: the Teen-age Pregnancy Coalition and the Committee for Education Equity, among others.

Ms. Finney has two children, one school age, the other nearing it. During her campaign she showed sophistication and poise. And, a point not to be taken lightly, she doesn't speak the language of school bureaucracy. By that we mean the vague, dense lingo, all but unintelligible to the rest of us, that twists a simple verb such as "to learn" into "to access and process information." Ms. Finney doesn't talk this way, and, with any luck, she'll rub off on her fellow board members instead of the other way around.

Before this convention began, many participants expressed disenchantment with the whole nominating process. They were tired of watching the county executive -- whose recommendation the governor always follows -- skip their top choice. They are looking for ways to force him to echo their decision.

One of the by-law changes the delegates discussed would have let them send one name, instead of two, to the executive.

That's a flawed remedy; the executive needs some latitude in case the convention fails, as it did 10 years ago, when right-wing extremists stacked it.

But that did not happen this time. Ms. Finney promises to be an asset to the board, and there is no reason for Mr. Neall not to recommend her.

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