Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Steve Abrams Passes

Steve Abrams has died of brain cancer. He was a relatively conservative voice on the Montgomery County Board of Education during the period when the sex-ed curriculum was being debated, and the only member to vote against its adoption in June, 2007. At the time he stated that he was not voting against it because he disapproved of the contents of the curriculum, but because he felt there had been political pressure to put in a last-minute change without sufficient discussion.

The Washington Post had a good, well-written obituary yesterday. Abrams was a colorful character, an intelligent and forceful individual with strong opinions and the ability to back them up with class and eloquence, and to back down when he realized he was wrong. A little bit from The Post:
Stephen N. Abrams, 67, a colorful politician whose candid, occasionally blunt observations enlivened Montgomery County school board meetings over two decades, died Aug. 1 at a Potomac nursing home. He had a brain tumor.

Mr. Abrams, a lawyer by training, served throughout the 1980s on the Rockville City Council, then jumped to the county school board, convinced that the Montgomery schools brand was key to the county's future.

He served three terms on the school board, from 1992 to 1996, 1998 to 2002 and 2004 to 2008. Over the past decade, he helped enact educational reforms that enhanced the national reputation of the county school system. He worked side-by-side with Superintendent Jerry D. Weast, and his support was partly responsible for Weast's enduring success in the job.

In public life, Mr. Abrams was equally well known for rhetorical duels on the dais. He feuded with some school board colleagues, spawning moments of spectacle on the otherwise collegial panel. In 2006, he and a fellow Republican had a highly publicized confrontation in a stairwell. This fed his reputation in local government for a sharp tongue.

His well-honed rhetorical skills, coupled with his political identity as a fiscally savvy Republican in a county filled with liberal Democrats, guaranteed fireworks whenever he entered a room. He could reduce an ideological opponent to scowling silence with a single sentence. (Mr. Abrams switched parties after the stairwell incident.) Stephen N. Abrams, outspoken Montgomery County school board member, dies at 67

That's a pretty good evocation of Abrams' presence. When he was in the room you didn't ignore him. The obit goes on to review his career, which was substantial.

We didn't always agree with Steve Abrams but he was an honorable opponent.


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