Cannon signals he’ll back Lewis for school board

The Wicomico County Council next week will again vote for an applicant to fill the vacant seat on the Board of Education.

Tonya Laird Lewis.

Last week, council members voted, but it repeatedly ended in a tie, with three voting for Gains Hawkins and three voting for Tonya Laird Lewis and with Council President John Cannon abstaining each time.

But Cannon later said he didn’t explain he abstained because of a business relationship with Hawkins’ family.

“I was looking at the two candidates side by side as if there was competition between the two. I felt it was my responsibility to abstain where I had a conflict of interest, but not to abstain where there may not be a conflict of interest. My conflict of interest was with Gains because there is too strong of a business relationship between Gains’ family members and me and my family.

“So, with that being the case, I believe my abstention should only be with Mr. Hawkins and not with Ms. Lewis, because I have no conflict of interest with her. I put it on the agenda to bring it back and to vote as two separate resolutions,” Cannon said.

He is expected to vote for Lewis to represent District 3 on the Board of Education, filling the seat vacated when Board of Education member David Goslee died in February. Goslee had been elected in November.

The annual salary is $3,700.

Earlier, Cannon told the Salisbury Independent both candidates interviewed well.

“I do think what we need to do in the future is streamline the process as a whole. It’s the first time we’ve done it and it seems to me, personally, there are too many public hearings that we’ve established and we need to reduce the number,” Cannon said.

Lewis, on her application, said she is a “highly involved and dedicated parent within Wicomico County” and listed her career objective as maintaining “a positive cooperative relationship with the schools and board officials in Wicomico County” and enhancing her educational and professional skills in “an environment which advocates for children’s learning and safety.”

Since March 2016, she has been a substitute teacher and said she is skilled in “maintaining an effective teaching and learning environment.”

From 2009 to 2012 she was a certified nursing assistant and geriatric nursing assistant, working at Berlin Nursing and Rehab and also worked at Heaven’s Angel Home Care, assisting patients with daily activities and core exercise functions.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and said she is a strong collaborator, with skills in leadership, effective time management and outstanding social and public speaking.

“It would beneficial to increase the open lines of communication between the school and the WCBOE. This could be accomplished by creating a strong trusting bond between administration and the parents in our school community. The WCBOE cannot directly be aware of all concerns in the school if board members are not directly aware of the issue. Promoting the purpose of the PAC would be an amazing start, this committee seems to have fallen off its level of importance,” she wrote during the application process.

She said she would like to “implement a substitute readiness program and training.”

“My spouse and I own and maintain a quite profitable local HVAC company. He was blessed to have been selected to this program. A goal I have is to increase the interest in these trade programs.

“We need trade workers and this county has the resources to educate students of various learning levels and promote a positive work ethic in our students,” she said.

“Public speaking … is my primary strength. I possess the desire to use positive reinforcement in all professional, community and person involvements,” she said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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