The Maryland Public Policy Institute
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While the decision might not be made immediately, three candidates have been recommended to Gov. Martin O'Malley's office for appointment to Michelle Wright's soon to be vacated seat on the Wicomico County school board.
Marc Kilmer, Ann Suthowski and Cathy Keim have been recommended for the post by the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee in a letter sent to the governor last week, according to committee chairman Dave Parker.
"They are all very interested in two critical issues," Parker said. "One is the quality of the graduates of the public school system. The second is the obvious lack of transparency about how the Board of Education is spending half the county's money. Nobody knows where everything goes. That's a concern all three raised."
The latter concern is one that has been brought up to the school board at several public meetings in recent years. In response, school officials have pointed to budget documentation available on their website, as well as the shrinking percentage of county spending they receive -- which is now closer to one third than one half of the local budget.
The vacancy on the board follows an announcement by Wright that she would resign due to new financial disclosure laws. According to Wright, she had intended to serve her full five-year term through 2016, but new financial disclosure requirements in the state's ethics law forced her to make a choice between her desire for public service and her family's right to privacy.
According to Takirra Winfield, a spokeswoman for the governor's office, once appointed, a replacement member would fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term.
Kilmer said he became interested in being that replacement as he has a daughter who will enter school soon.
"Quality education is definitely important to me," he said. "I'd be focused on making sure Wicomico County kids have the highest education and taxpayers get the best value for their money. I would also like to work on improving the relationship between the BOE and the County Council."
According to his bio on the panel's website, Kilmer is "a Maryland Public Policy Institute senior fellow specializing in health care issues" who "began his career in public policy as a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-ID, where he worked on education, transportation and housing issues as well as federal appropriations, public land policy and gun rights."
Keim, who home-schooled her five children, said she was asked to apply for the position and is very interested in education "and making sure each child has the opportunity to grow and learn the best they can."
Speaking of the rough economic times and the impact on local budgets, she said "everyone in the country has to think very seriously about how things are going and approach everything very seriously."
Suthowski, who, herself, is a member of the Republican Central Committee, said she abstained from the voting and interviewing process after other members of the committee approached her about putting her own name in the hat.
Having taught in Delaware for more than 30 years, Suthowski said she would be an advocate for teachers if appointed to the board.
In addition to her teaching experience, she said she is a product of Wicomico County schools, along with her children and grandchildren, and that she has volunteered in the schools.
"I'm very active in the county, I think this is one of the pluses in my favor because I am seen in and about the county and am very active civicly," she said. "I am a member of the Chamber of Commerce, for example. People know me and there's not a school in Wicomico that I haven't been into."
She noted all three of the candidates who were recommended by the Republican Central Committee were highly qualified for the job. Nevertheless, she noted it was her understanding the governor's office wasn't required to pick from their three recommendations exclusively.