Five people are vying for one vacancy on the Anne Arundel County Board of Education -- the most candidates for a single seat in seven years.
"Usually we have one or two, sometimes three," said Mark Fontaine, chairman of the school board nominating convention. "This is a lot, which surprised me, but it's pleasant."
Fontaine said he had been concerned that, with legislation pending in the General Assembly to change the way school board members are selected, no one would apply.
He also said he doesn't yet know whether there is a particular issue that drove so many people to apply for the seat being vacated by Paul G. Rudolph of Severna Park, who is nearing the end of his second five-year term.
"I'm sure we'll find out when we get into the hearings," Fontaine said. "I'm interested to know the things that are concerning them. The hearings, when they start, will hopefully tell us a lot."
The five candidates will be vetted by members of the school board nominating convention during three hearings next month. In May, the convention will meet to select a top candidate and a second choice, and both names will be sent to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who may choose one of the two or appoint someone else.
The new board member will take office July 1. The school board has eight members -- seven of them appointed and a student member. The board will also have a new student member.
Brittany Walker, a 16-year-old junior at Old Mill High School, was elected Thursday to be the next student member of the board. Student board members are chosen by members of the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils and serve a one-year term. Walker also must be approved by the governor, and will succeed Pallas A. Snider.
Here's a look at the five candidates vying for Rudolph's seat:
Thomas H. Frank, 62, of Crofton. Frank has two adult children who attended Anne Arundel County public schools in Crofton and graduated from Arundel High School. Currently the president of Perinatronics Medical Systems Inc., a technology company that specializes in the development of medical instruments, he has been involved as a parent and on school committees since 1979 and is a frequent speaker at school board meetings.
Joseph Hebler, 49, of Severna Park. Hebler retired last year from the county school system after 30 years, having worked mostly in technology. He's an adjunct professor at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, teaching computer and information technology. His daughter is an eighth-grader at Severna Park Middle School, and his son is a sophomore at Severna Park High School.
Victor E. Bernson Jr., 41, of Millersville. Bernson is general counsel for the White House Office of Administration and was nominated in February by Ehrlich to serve on the Maryland Higher Education Commission and is awaiting confirmation by the state Senate. The father of teenagers, Bernson also served on the Governor's Commission on Quality Education in Maryland from August 2004 to September 2005.
Carol Dillon Kissal, 48, of Tracey's Landing. Kissal is a consultant for a nonprofit and for Amtrak. She is the mother of a second-grader who attends Deale Elementary School and has volunteered with the school system.
Dean A. Cook, 36, of Crofton. Cook, an Air Force officer who formerly taught at the Naval Academy, will soon begin a new job as a managing partner in a consulting firm. His daughter is in the first grade at Crofton Meadows Elementary School, and his son will start kindergarten there in 2008. He's a member of the Citizen's Advisory Committee and worked on education policy issues in the office of the governor of Delaware while a graduate student.
School board members serve for a five-year, unpaid term.