CHARLES TOWN – With a Saturday deadline to name a replacement for Pete Dougherty, Jefferson County’s four school board members Monday night turned to a familiar name: Larry Togans, who served on the body from 1994 to 2002.
Togans, a former school board president and 10-year member of the school system’s Cultural Diversity Committee, won a one-year appointment after a 45-minute executive session and then extensive public comment.
Dougherty resigned last month to become Jefferson County sheriff. He had served on the nonpartisan board for a quarter-century and had been the board president at the time of his exit.
Monday, Togans won backing from current board president Gary Kable and board member Mariland Lee, a teacher at Jefferson High for much of Togans’ earlier tenure on the board.
Board member Scott Sudduth initially supported Alan Sturm, but changed his vote to remove the deadlock. Mark Osbourn held on against Togans’ appointment, but ultimately expressed his support and confidence in the Jefferson County native and graduate of then-Shepherd College.
The foursome had been locked in a 2-2 split over Togans and Sturm at its March 29 meeting. Had the board not agreed on a replacement by Saturday – 45 days after Dougherty’s resignation – State Schools Chief Jim Phares would have named a fifth member for the board.
Several in the audience Monday night at the Mordington Avenue board office, including members of the Jefferson County NAACP, had words of praise for Togans.
“The diversity he can bring to our system, even if it is only for a year, is a perspective we’ve not had,” said Lee before the deciding vote.
Wildwood Middle School PTA President Laurie Ogden, who has narrowly lost in two recent school board races, also had expressed interest in the vacancy.
During Monday’s meeting, Debbie Royalty read a letter from the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County, saying her group had passed a resolution April urging the school board to appoint the person who polled the next-largest number of votes in the general election.
Ogden finished just 90 votes out in the 2010 election, and missed winning a seat in the 2012 election, where turnout was significantly higher, by 388 votes.
The league’s resolution noted that appointing someone who’d sought the office formally would be “consistent with the preference of a majority of voters.”
Togans’ professional background includes serving as deputy human resources chief for the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Va. He retired from the position in 2001.
He also serves as a director for Bank of Charles Town and formerly was a member of the board of directors for the Shepherd University Foundation and the United Way.
He served in the Navy from 1966 to 1970, winning four Bronze Stars for service in the Vietnam War.
He also has been honored as Page-Jackson High School Alumni of the Year.