Safely ensconced in our new headquarters, the Wicomico County Republican Club held its first official meeting there, with the special guest speaker being State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello. Matt has the enviable position of needing one vote for another four-year term because he’s unopposed.
Before we heard from Matt, though, we had the usual Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduction of distinguished guests, a list which included our state party Chair Diana Waterman. We also received a brief update from Larry Hogan’s regional coordinator Joe Schanno, who was pressed for time. He noted the need for volunteer help for the Hogan campaign, and pointed out the recent poll results that showed the race within the margin of error.
We also learned Larry would be here on Sunday for a series of events: the official opening of our headquarters from 2 to 4 p.m. followed by a fundraiser for District 37B hopeful Christopher Adams at Perdue Stadium from 4 to 8 and an appearance at a fundraiser for County Executive challenger Bob Culver from 5 to 9 at a private residence. There may be some other visits with local businesses added to the schedule, said Schanno.
After Joe wrapped up, we introduced Matt Maciarello. He recounted that when he took office in 2011 it was about the same time as Salisbury police chief Barbara Duncan was selected, a time when “crime was out of control.” But with Duncan and Sheriff Mike Lewis, they planned a line of attack on the spiraling situation. Matt’s areas of interest in that regard, naturally, were the district and circuit courts, although there’s also a children’s advocacy center and drug task force.
It’s the latter item which creates much of our problem, said Maciarello. He claimed that there’s “one (fatal heroin) overdose a week in Wicomico County” and surmised that the appetite for opioid drugs “fuels a lot of crime.”
In combating crime, Matt also noted he’s been an advocate on the legislative level, monitoring legislation and providing input, both as testimony and direct discussions with legislators. After a bill is passed, his office provides roll call training to street officers to make sure they understand new and revised laws.
Much of his time of late, said Matt, has been spent compiling and writing reports on a pair of recent police-involved shootings, reports he personally wrote and took the time to talk with the families of the victims about the reports if they were inclined to discuss them.
But he concluded by stating that citizens have a choice on where to live, and the perception that a place is safe is important to an area’s well-being.
Matt then answered questions, many of which queried him about gun laws. A recent profile of Sheriff Lewis as one who would refuse to enforce federal gun laws led to a discussion on nullification, which he felt was “more symbolic than anything.” On that subject, “I want to be on solid legal ground” – for example, what exactly would be nullified? So while he felt parts of the Firearm Safety Act were “clearly unconstitutional,” he believed opponents should get the advice from a Constitutional scholar before proceeding in order to pick and choose the best points for a legal counterattack.
Asked for a definition of “good and substantial” cause, Maciarello said, “I personally believe the burden should be on the state.”
He also spoke about the relationship with the local NAACP given some recent tensions, explaining that “I see my role…as a public safety job. You have to represent justice.” He’s tried to be as transparent as possible in all his office’s dealings.
Jackie Wellfonder, who had attended the previous forum with several GOP candidates, noted that “we had an interesting dialogue.” The GOP presence was “a first step.”
After I gave the treasurer’s report in the absence of our regular treasurer, Jackie gave her formal president’s report, gushing that the headquarters has done “a complete 180” from the state it was in when we took it over. She pointed out that donations would be welcome to help defray the expenses, and volunteers to man the phones and greet visitors would be great as well once we get the ball rolling on Sunday.
She also read a thank-you card from Elizabeth Mills, one of our two WCRC scholarship recipients.
David Warren, who is in charge of the headquarters, remarked again about the “once in a lifetime chance” we have to win seats in District 38.
He gave way to Diana Waterman, who commented about the ease of operating the “very user-friendly” phone system, and urged us to “step out of your comfort zone.” She also talked up the September 27 Allen West event and announced our Super Saturday would be October 4, just before the Andy Harris Bull Roast in Queen Anne’s County.
Dave Parker gave the Central Committee report, giving more details on the Allen West Patriot’s Dinner and repeating the information on the October 4th events.
It was then time to hear from some of the candidates in attendance.
Speaking on behalf of Larry Hogan’s campaign, Ann Suthowski revealed he would have a fundraiser featuring Chris Christie in Bethesda and there would be a day for LG candidate Boyd Rutherford in this area as well as for Hogan. She was looking for sign locations and letters to the editor as well.
Jackie Wellfonder spoke again, this time on Chris Adams’s behalf. She repeated the information about his Perdue Stadium fundraiser as well as the Bob Culver gathering that will also feature Andy Harris.
County Council candidate Larry Dodd acknowledged he took a little break after the primary, but pointed out while his opponent claims to be “moderate” he was really “100 percent Democrat.”
Johnny Mautz of District 37B introduced his local campaign coordinator and promoted three events: fundraisers for him in St. Michael’s and Easton on September 20 and 21, respectively, and a Larry Hogan event at Sailwinds Park in Cambridge on September 28. The Easton event he’s holding has as a special guest author and commentator S.E. Cupp.
Carol Rose spoke on behalf of Mary Beth Carozza and announced her fundraiser would be held at Frontier Town near Ocean City on September 7. She also noted a Worcester County TEA Party event featuring Carozza along with the other three Republican District 38 candidates was “fantastic.”
Marc Kilmer was pleased to have finally met his opponent. But on a more serious note, he was ready to resume doorknocking and was looking for volunteers to help at the Sharptown Heritage Days parade on September 20.
Muir Boda wasn’t a Republican candidate anymore, but revealed he was one of a dozen applicants for the vacant Salisbury City Council position. We will probably know Wednesday who will fill the unexpired term of Terry Cohen, he said.
We also heard from the unopposed County Councilman John Hall, who said his campaign was “going just swimmingly” and received an update on the September 6 WCRC Crab Feast.
So after one piece of new business, our formal meeting was done. But many stayed around for this. (Photo by Jackie Wellfonder.)
The Ice Bucket Challenge got another “victim” and this time it was MDGOP chair Diana Waterman. I guess “water” is appropriate in this case.
I’m not sure how we’ll top this in September, but someone else will have to let you know. I get a personal day from the next meeting, and those of you who know me well will know the reason why.