This year the Anne Arundel School Board Nominating Commission (SBNC) had to fill two Board of Education (BOE) seats, one at-large and one representing Legislative District 21. Nominees were elected on May 29, 2012. The Governor must announce his choices by July 1, 2012.
Those who pay attention to BOE politics probably know by now who “won.” But the real news this year was the lack of news: the nominating process was over before it officially began (this pre-official nominating process is what political scientists call “the invisible primary”). As predicted in my May 8 article, Four Candidates, Two Open AACO Board of Education Seats, the four candidates who applied for the two open seats were all nominated: three candidates unanimously (Patricia Nalley, Elizabeth Leight, and Stacey Korbelak) and the fourth (Tracey Warren) by a margin of ten yes and one no.
All the candidates had professional credentials, winsome stories as child advocates, government work experience, and basic BOE political smarts. One of their most notable features was a studied lack of disagreement with each other. Such behavior is rare in candidate debates for most political offices.
Overall, SBNC members appeared to be very pleased with the candidates. It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that their public Q&A with the candidates was a lovefest.
Barring an unexpected scandal, I believe it is a foregone conclusion that the winner of the at-large seat will be Ms. Nalley, the current BOE president. Nevertheless, it wasn’t necessarily a mistake for Ms. Leight and Ms. Warren to run against her. By law, the SBNC must nominate at least two individuals, even if it is clear which nominee is destined to win. Any nominee who has been vetted by the SBNC with a high vote total is in a much stronger position to win a subsequent seat.
The winner of the District 21 seat is harder to predict. Since both nominees obviously have the necessary credentials, it may depend on the particular demographic mix the Governor thinks the BOE needs. Retiring incumbent Eugene Peterson from District 21, for example, argued during public testimony that Ms. Warren should be selected for his replacement because she was a woman and black, a combination currently lacking on the BOE. However, I’d place my bet on Ms. Korbelak, if only because Ms. Warren failed to get the vote of the SBNC’s Chair. The Governor has never chosen someone not approved by the Chair, who he appoints.
For J.H. Snider’s coverage of the SBNC from 2007 (when the Maryland General Assembly passed the statute creating the SBNC) through 2011, see MyAACPS.net.