Tie Vote Leaves Wicomico School Board Seat Vacant

SALISBURY – Neither candidate for an open seat on the Wicomico County Board of Education was selected to fill the position this week following a tie vote.

On Tuesday, members of the Wicomico County Council had before them a resolution to appoint a nominee to the school board. The resolution, however, did not pass after a tie vote between candidates Tonya Laird Lewis and Gains Hawkins Jr.

Earlier this year, the Wicomico County Board of Education Nominating Commission began the process of seeking qualified applicants to fill a board vacancy created by the death of member David Goslee, who was elected to represent District 3 late last year.

And in March, the commission submitted the names of two nominees – Hawkins and Lewis – to the county council for consideration. Since that time, the council has conducted interviews with the two candidates and held a public hearing.

On Tuesday, Councilmen Joe Holloway, Larry Dodd and Marc Kilmer voted to appoint Lewis, while Councilmen Bill McCain, Ernie Davis and Josh Hastings voted to appoint Hawkins. Council President John Cannon abstained from voting.

In an interview this week, Cannon said he did not vote because of a working relationship between his wife and Hawkins’ daughter.

“I felt for me to take a position on that would not appear to be above board,” he said.

The council has until June 3 to appoint a District 3 candidate to the school board, and Cannon told the council this week it would have to seek additional recommendations from the nominating commission.

In a separate interview, however, he said the council continues to evaluate its next steps.

“This is an entirely new process …,” he said. “We are still evaluating the outcome of that resolution.”

During the interview process last month, Hawkins said his goals as a member of the school board are to support Superintendent Donna Hanlin’s Imagine 2022 plan, raise community awareness of the importance of a first-rate public school system and secure a better understanding of disciplinary challenges.

A former teacher, Lewis said her goals are to improve the lines of communication between the schools and board of education, implement a substitute teacher readiness program and promote the school system’s career and technology education program.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.