Anne Arundel County school board member Tony Spencer will not seek a second five-year term, leaving an open seat to be filled by someone of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s choice.
Spencer, an Annapolis city official and former firefighter, said he is leaving the board to pursue career opportunities and personal interests.
"It's reinventing myself," said Spencer, 52, the board's vice president. "Everybody has dreams of things they want to do."
Spencer, one of two black members on the eight-member board, has been a critic of the disparity in achievement between minority and white students, and a proponent of arts education.
He said he hopes to advance his career by obtaining a master's degree at Bowie State University. He also intends to spend more time on artistic pursuits, including singing, acting and trying to get a book of faith-based poetry published.
Spencer said he hopes his successor will not have narrow interests but a "passion for all kids." He also hopes the board will continue to represent diverse viewpoints.
"You have to reflect what society is about," he said. "Just having one female is not enough. Just having one African-American is not enough."
Spencer's term ends June 30, but he said he would serve until Ehrlich names a replacement.
County residents will go through a nominating process in the next several months, then forward two suggested replacements to the governor.
The nominating process, in which delegates from community groups vote for candidates, has come under fire in the past when residents were unhappy with the school board. Calls for electing board members have been heard when governors have bypassed the candidates recommended.
In 2002, Gov. Parris N. Glendening passed over the county nominating convention's top choice and recommended Konrad M. Wayson, a businessman recommended by County Executive Janet S. Owens. Last year, Ehrlich filled a vacancy on the board with the nominating convention's second choice, Tricia Johnson.
A County Council resolution in support of school board elections failed a year ago. State legislators also have put forward bills to change Anne Arundel's system, which is similar to that used in 10 of Maryland's 24 school systems.