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Convention favorite is picked School board gets new member


Carlesa Finney was the people's choice, nominated overwhelmingly to the Anne Arundel County school board by a citizens' nominating convention. Yesterday, she was named the governor's choice to unseat incumbent Vincent O. Leggett.

Mrs. Finney, 39, carried the Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Convention in May with 113 votes -- more than three times the number of votes awarded any other candidate.

But she didn't rest after the convention.

"I submitted letters and petitions to the governor to let him know I was interested in having him support the people's choice," Mrs. Finney said.

In years past, Gov. William Donald Schaefer and O. James

Lighthizer, when he was Anne Arundel county executive, have bypassed candidates nominated by the convention, and in at least one case they selected a candidate who had not been considered viable by convention delegates.

Mr. Leggett, for example, was appointed five years ago but was not among the candidates submitted by the annual convention, a group of delegates representing nonprofit, nonpartisan school, civic and church organizations in the county. The convention's nonbinding choices to fill school board seats are sent to the governor for his consideration.

Mr. Leggett, who placed third to Ms. Finney with 31 votes, could not be reached for comment last night.

County Executive Robert R. Neall had said this year that he would uphold the nominating convention committee's process, and he formally endorsed Mrs. Finney last month.

Mrs. Finney, a Glen Burnie resident, said she was pleased by the appointment and that she would work to update the county school curriculum to include multiculturalism. She also said she planned to increase parent involvement.

And she said she would try to ease the divisiveness among board members that has been apparent since the controversial nomination of Superintendent C. Berry Carter II, who was appointed last year to succeed Larry Lorton but reportedly had the support of only five of the eight board members.

"I'm very optimistic about using my experiences as a teaplayer," said Mrs. Finney, deputy chief executive officer for the Family and Community Services Division of the Anne Arundel County Community Action Agency. "I hope that one of my accomplishments during my five-year term will be to impart a strong sense of being part of a team to a group of people who, to my mind, have not demonstrated a very cohesive front."

School board members said they look forward to working with her.

"I think that with her education and experience she has a unique viewpoint as an African-American woman, and I look for great things from her," said Maureen Carr-York, a school board member.

The governor also named Broadneck Senior High School student Desira St. Pierre as the new student board member. Both will be sworn in within the next week.

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