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Selection Time in Prince George's

Rosalind Helderman

Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) has a big choice to make -- who he will name to fill a vacancy on the county's nine-member Board of Education. On Thursday, he announced he's got just a couple options to choose from. Thirty-nine in all.

That's how many men and women have expressed interest in taking over the school board seat vacated by Nathaniel B. Thomas, who resigned last month after a grand jury indicted him in connection with an alleged sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy.

Johnson said he will narrow the list to a group of finalists for interviews next week and will forward the name of his nominee to the County Council, which must confirm the choice, during the week of July 16.

The selection will be an important on for a school system still trying to regain its footing after years of turmoil. In 2002, the General Assembly disbanded the county's elected school board, replacing it with a appointed board. Only this November did voters get a chance to choose representatives again, selecting nine men and women from a field of dozens of candidates.

Many residents have expressed deep disappointment over the Thomas situation, which they believe has undermined leadership of a school system that is otherwise receiving high marks for making improvements.
The choice is also critical one for Johnson, who will get a chance to mold the school board with his selection.

Johnson must select a nominee likely to garner support from members of the County Council, with whom Johnson
has clashed repeatedly in recent years, including over key appointments.

"There's a legacy factor when it comes to every term limited elected official," said Alexander Rodriguez, a member of the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee, noting Johnson will be forced from office in 2010. "They want to have the opportunity to look back and say this is a decision I did that benefited the people."

Johnson and Council Chairman Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant) have indicated they would like to complete the confirmation process before the council breaks for its summer recess on July 24.

The list of potential nominees included several well-known names, including Fort Washington resident Steven Morris. A retired educator, Morris ran in November's election, coming so close to defeating opponent Linda T. Thomas that it appeared he had won on the night of the election. Thomas was declared the winner by 885 votes only after provisional ballots were examined.

Amber Waller of Hyattsville, who also ran in November, is also on the list. So too is Judy Mickens-Murray, who served on the appointed school board. The full list can be found here.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  July 6, 2007; 2:38 PM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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