Attorney embraces appointment

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New board member sees role as ‘consensus builder’

CHESAPEAKE — To call Curtis Anderson a dark horse stretches the definition. Before the Ironton attorney was appointed to the Chesapeake school board, his name wasn’t even among those in contention for the vacancy created after board president Bill Pratt left to become a county commissioner.

Anderson didn’t come out of the blue; he wasn’t even in the running.

But now the New Jersey-born and reared Anderson has a pivotal spot on a school board that couldn’t agree on who to replace one of its members.

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It’s a position Anderson is well-aware of and a challenge he looks forward to embracing.

“I am hoping I can try to build some consensus among the board members,” he said. “I am concerned in a divided board that my position could serve as a sway vote. .. I would like to be a consensus builder if at all possible.”

Pratt resigned from the school board in April after being named by the Republican Central Committee to the seat held by Jason Stephens. Stephens left the commission in March following his election as county auditor.

At that time eight Chesapeake residents stepped forward saying they wanted to serve on the school board. After meeting in two special sessions the four remaining board members deadlocked on two names and were unable to choose Pratt’s successor.

That meant, by the Ohio Revised Code, the decision fell into the hands of Probate Judge David Payne, who named Anderson to the board on Wednesday, citing the attorney’s education and experience.

“My reaction was a positive one,” Anderson said when Payne asked him to serve. “I thought it provided the judge with a solution to a problem. And quite frankly a solution for the community. But ultimately it was the judge’s decision. He had a lot of consideration he had to do. I think he took his time and took extreme thought.”

For the past 10 years Anderson has been a partner with Edwards, Klein, Anderson and Shope law firm with offices in Ironton, Huntington, W.Va., and Ashland, Ky. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from New Jersey institutes and Juris Doctor and master’s of law degrees from Capital University.

Anderson looks at the role of a school board as the body that sets policy, leaving day-to-day duties of the district in the hands of its administration.

“I definitely look at it as a policy maker,” he said. “I reviewed the statute briefly two nights ago when Judge Payne appointed me and noticed part of my job is not only approving a budget but also approving curriculum.”

Payne called Anderson an appointee who would bring a impartial perspective. Anderson, a Chesapeake resident, sees that factor increasing since his two children attend Fairland schools — a decision made because his in-laws live in Proctorville and both Anderson and his wife are professionals with demanding schedules.

“I see it as a positive impact,” he said. “I am even more neutral.”

Serving on a board that has been at odds at times fits his work as an attorney.

“To some degree we mediate,” he said. “I have represented multiple public bodies. I bring an interesting perspective to the board. And I have some personal background. My mother was a teacher for 30 years in New Jersey. I grew up understanding the role of a teacher.”

On top of that the appointment fulfills an obligation Anderson says professionals should meet.

“I think it is our duty to give back to the community,” he said.

Anderson says he will not run for the seat when it is on the November ballot.