A potential power grab?

In 2004, Wicomico County voters adopted a system of government that would be led by a county executive, scrapping the former system where County Council had both legislative and executive powers. One reaction from this: all four of the incumbent Democratic members of County Council opted not to run for re-election in 2006; however, the first County Executive elected was Democrat Rick Pollitt.

In 2014, we had the first transfer of power between parties as GOP standard-bearer Bob Culver ousted Pollitt, who was running for a third term. At the same time, County Council maintained the 6-1 GOP edge it had received in 2010 – that was an increase from the 4-3 control they won in 2006 with only two members from the previous Council surviving the election.

So you can perhaps chalk it up to management style, or maybe the turnover on County Council over the last eight years has placed a crop of people on there who long for the old system, but Wicomico County voters are facing a bewildering array of issues on their ballot. So let’s start with the no-brainers.

Question 1 is a statewide issue that compels the Governor to appoint a new Comptroller or Attorney General from the same party as the one most recently elected and provides for a special election in a Presidential year if the vacancy occurs soon enough.

You’ll notice that this was never a problem until a Republican was elected to the governor’s chair. In fact, the last time the state had a Republican AG was in the term of Republican Governor Theodore McKeldin (1951-1959), who appointed Edward Rollins to the post to finish out the term of Hall Hammond, a Democrat elected in 1950 and promoted to the state Court of Appeals. As for Comptroller, it has exclusively been a Democrat’s position for well over a century. But maybe we could use a Libertarian as Comptroller or a Constitution Party member as Attorney General – until either can break the two-party duopoly, though, we would likely be stuck with liberal Democrats.

So because of the cynicism in addressing a problem (that really wasn’t) for strictly partisan reasons, I urge a vote AGAINST Question 1.

Question A, for Wicomico County voters, addresses the composition of the Wicomico County Board of Education. For years I have advocated for an elected school board, and after eliminating the political obstacles in the 2014 election, the path was cleared for voters to address the issue in the first three-way referendum in recent memory. Option 1 is to maintain the current appointed system, Option 2 is for a fully elected board, one each representing the five County Council districts and two at-large elected by all county residents (the same makeup as our current County Council), and Option 3 is for a hybrid board of five elected (one from each Council district) and two appointed by a locally-created board with confirmation from County Council.

Once again the cynical local Democrats have cast their lot with the fully-appointed Option 1, which provides no shortage of irony considering it’s the least democratic process. It seemed more logical that they would be for Option 3, which was the fallback position many preferred in the hearings conducted in the summer of 2015, before the enabling legislation passed earlier this year. But to maximize accountability, the best choice by far is Option 2 – a Wicomico County Board of Education with five members elected by district and two members elected at-large.

Now it gets very confusing. There are nine county charter amendments on the ballot, and to me their net effect seems to be that of reducing the power of the county executive and shifting it to County Council. I wasn’t here for the 2004 vote, but it seems obvious to me that the county wanted a strong leader and a legislative County Council.

Let’s begin with Question B and its related cousin, Question D. Both would require a special election: Question B to fill a vacancy in the County Council, and Question D for the County Executive. However, either vacancy would only be filled in this manner if it occurred within the first year or so of the term, which seems to me a rather pointless change. Having gone through this process as a Central Committee member back in 2011 (to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Bob Caldwell) I can tell you that a special election would do no better and cost the taxpayers money to boot. Thus, the proper vote is AGAINST both Question B and Question D. (Editor’s note: Councilman Marc Kilmer clarifies the intent of these questions in comments below, but I still think the ballot language is misleading. Their idea of a “special election” coincides with the scheduled primary and general elections, which is not made completely clear in the ballot summary.)

Question C deals with vacancies as well, but it’s a common-sense measure to extend the time allotted for filling positions from 30 to 45 days and have them submitted at a legislative session. This extension makes sense as County Council only meets twice a month, and having gone through the Caldwell vacancy the extra time is good for getting things right. Vote FOR Question C.

Question E removes the authority of the County Executive to select a temporary successor and assigns the task automatically to the Director of Administration. While it’s likely he or she would do so anyway, the option should remain open for the head of our government to choose. We do not have a vice-executive here, so why create one? Vote AGAINST Question E.

Question F deals with the idea of “acting” appointments, and limits their term to 90 days unless Council chooses to re-appoint them. Since the idea of “acting” is that of being temporary, this proposal makes more sense than most of the others. Three months is generally suitable to find a permanent replacement, or determine that the “acting” head can handle the job, so go ahead and vote FOR Question F.

The final four questions seem to me very nit-picky, and obviously County Council’s reaction to not getting their way on various issues.

For example, Question G gives a specific definition to “reorganization” which is much more restrictive toward the County Executive. As I see it, this is a separation of powers issue and it’s strange that we went nearly ten years without ever having to deal with this problem. So I call on voters to say they are AGAINST Question G.

Questions H and I most likely are a reaction to the County Council’s desire to have its own lawyer. Currently the County Attorney represents both the County Council and County Executive, but Council wanted to change that. I see no reason to do so, nor do I see the logic behind forcing the County Executive to recognize a personnel system established by Council as authorized by this change. Thus, we should vote AGAINST Questions H and I. (Editor’s note: Again, see Kilmer’s comments below. By charter my assertion is correct in who the County Attorney represents; but in the county today there is an “acting” County Attorney while Council retains its own, which they are entitled to do. I see no reason to change the system if Question F is passed.)

Finally, we have Question J, and that’s the one I was most on the fence about. But what weighed my decision in the end was that the County Executive is responsible for the budget, so if County Council decides to cut something out it should be the County Executive’s call as to where the money goes rather than simply placed in a particular account. For that reason, a vote AGAINST Question J is the appropriate one.

So this is the monoblogue-approved ballot for Wicomico County voters. We all face the same questions and issues.

  • For Presidentwrite in Darrell Castle/Scott Bradley
  • For U.S. SenatorKathy Szeliga
  • For Congress – I did not make a formal endorsement. If you like Andy Harris, vote for him; if not, vote for the Libertarian Matt Beers.
  • Judge – Based on the fact Dan Friedman was an O’Malley appointee, vote AGAINST his continuance in office.
  • Question 1 – AGAINST
  • Question A – Option 2, the fully elected school board
  • Question B – AGAINST
  • Question C – FOR
  • Question D – AGAINST
  • Question E – AGAINST
  • Question F – FOR
  • Question G – AGAINST
  • Question H – AGAINST
  • Question I – AGAINST
  • Question J – AGAINST

For those of you across the line in Delaware, I weighed in on your state races as well.

Before I wrap up, I just ask that you all pray we make the best choices. We all have to live with what we decide, so choose wisely. After the election, it will be time to create the understanding many among us lack when it comes to making these selections because, in a lot of cases, we all have botched the process badly.

A nation divided against itself cannot stand.

WCRC meeting – February 2014

Tonight’s gathering wasn’t exactly the one we had planned, but it turned out all right. Considering our outgoing first vice-President Marc Kilmer was placed in charge by the late arrival of president Jackie Wellfonder and that our speaker, District 38B candidate Carl Anderton Jr., was late due to mayoral duties in Delmar, the agenda was reshuffled a few times but we got through in one of the speedier meetings we’ve had recently.

Yet we began the meeting in much the same way many previous meetings have commenced, with the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance. And while I don’t read the minutes anymore (because they’re posted on the website), we still had the Treasurer’s Report to file.

But because of the absences, we actually led off with Dave Parker’s Central Committee report. He assessed the election as “shaping up rather nicely” as he reported on the candidates who had filed, with a couple last-minute updates from those in attendance. Parker also had some lighter fare as he recited a number of observations based on the thought that “you might be living in a country run by idiots.”

He invited all local Republican candidates to our next Central Committee meeting on March 3, and updated us on the Lincoln Day Dinner where we are still working with our desired speaker on a date – however, if only a midweek event is possible we may have to change the venue.

A number of candidates (or their surrogates) gave updates and reports.

John Hall, who is running for a full term in County Council District 4, noted that “next year will be a very difficult year” financially for the county, and that needed future school projects may have to wait. Hall was appointed to fill out the unexpired term of the late Bob Caldwell in 2011.

Mary Beth Carozza spoke about being an advocate for several causes in Annapolis, particularly against the “chicken tax.” And while she was still out knocking on a lot of doors, she was still finding she needed to educate voters about the new district setup and the June primary.

Larry Dodd, who’s in the ring for County Council District 3, gave a shortened stump speech highlighting his experience and time at the Board of Education. If elected he woould work to reduce crime and make sure farmer’s rights are protected, along with making sure government lives within its means.

This was important because the next to speak was Dodd’s recently-filed primary opponent, Tom Taylor. After reaching over and shaking Dodd’s hand, Taylor stated his case that the GOP should have a choice and that he was committed to fiscal conservatism and “better government through being smaller.”

County Executive hopeful Bob Culver told those gathered that “this was the best time we have to take Rick (Pollitt, current County Executive) out of office.,,it’s time for a change.” He called on us to give him a strong primary showing.

On behalf of District 37B candidate Christopher Adams, Marc Kilmer said Adams was busy meeting voters, but was also testifying in Annapolis on a number of business bills. Kilmer then went on to discuss his own camapign, with an April fundraiser in the works.

Fellow District 37B hopeful Johnny Mautz Jr. had a surrogate as well in Shawn Jester. Shawn passed along word that we were invited to a Mautz campaign event March 2 in Cambridge, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Dr. Rene Desmarais, who was a little late but is also a District 37B contender, assessed his campaign as “going great” and raising a lot of money. He invited us to an event March 12 in Fruitland. He actually spoke after our featured speaker, who came in about a half-hour late.

But Carl Anderton, Jr. had a good excuse as he was at a meeting involving the two commissions which run their respective sides of Delmar. (Part lies in Maryland and part in Delaware; however, they strive to coordinate efforts as one entity where possible.)

He led off with his meeting with the governor as head of the Maryland Municipal League. catching Martin O’Malley by surprise when he told him about the proposed “chicken tax” and its potentially devastating effect on the Eastern Shore. That led to the O’Malley “read my lips” veto threat a few days later. And when Carl confronted House sponsor Delegate Shane Robinson with the fact that 40% of Eastern Shore jobs have some reliance on the poultry industry, Delegate Robinson backed off, saying that he “just wanted to have a conversation” about the idea.

Yet this played into a significant part of Carl’s campaign: the premise that we have great educational institutions locally but no jobs to keep the graduates here. Even the potential explosive growth at the Wallops Island space complex just across the Virginia line may be squandered by Maryland’s poor business climate. Anderton’s was a “we need to get back to basics” approach, charging that part of the Eastern Shore delegation was working against us. Not only could we not attract business, continued Carl, but we can no longer attract retirees either because of our punitive income and estate taxes. “It’s time for a whole lifestyle change,” concluded Carl.

We finally got around to a little business once Carl finished, most importantly the election of officers. For 2014, they will be almost the same group as last year’s, with one exception.

  • President: Jackie Wellfonder
  • First Vice-President: Shawn Jester
  • Second Vice-President: Larry Dodd
  • Third Vice-President: Sean Fahey
  • Fourth Vice-President: Cathy Keim
  • Treasurer: Deb Okerblom
  • Secretary: Michael Swartz

Jester is the newcomer, replacing Marc Kilmer.

We also made and passed motions to secure a table at the Salisbury Festival and potentially one at Pork in the Park as well. There’s also the prospect of needing a headquarters for this fall’s election, and some members are already chomping at the bit to secure a location – unfortunately, we have several of our old ones to choose from because they are still vacant after all this time.

All told, we were through in less than an hour, but we accomplished quite a bit. It’s also worth noting that a man who’s perhaps one of Maryland’s longest-serving elected officials announced his retirement tonight. After close to a half-century on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee, Blan Harcum will not seek another term. We applauded him for his efforts tonight.

A look ahead: 2014 in Wicomico County

I covered some of the events from this year last night, but as we enter 2014 some interesting political campaigns and battles are taking shape.

The largest question for 2014 will obviously be who gets the keys for the next four years as County Executive, with the sidebar being whether he, along with County Council and some other leadership, will be paid more. I suspect the latter measure will be voted in with a close vote, as the County Council seems to have its Republicans divided into two groups of three, one being much less fiscally conservative than the other and carrying a 4-3 vote when they side with the lone Democrat.

As for that County Executive race, Republican County Council at-large member Bob Culver announced earlier this month that he would seek the office for a second time, with current County Executive Rick Pollitt planning to file for a third term next month. Pollitt is the only chief executive the county has known, winning the position in 2006 over Republican Ron Alessi and narrowly escaping a challenge from first-time officeseeker Joe Ollinger in 2010. Culver has a history in running for County Executive, though; finishing a distant third in the three-way GOP primary race in 2006 with 23% of the vote. And while he managed to win an at-large County Council seat in 2010, he was second overall to political neophyte Matt Holloway.

Whoever wins the County Executive race, he will be dealing with a radically revised County Council. Much like the 2006 election, which marked the end of a commission style of government with the Council serving as leadership, the 2014 balloting will result in large turnover. That 2006 campaign featured none of the four incumbent Democrats, all of whom decided not to seek another term as legislators rather than commissioners, while one of the three Republicans lost in the primary. Eight years later, while Matt Holloway has filed for another term at large, Culver will seek the County Executive position and leave the other at-large seat to another. Republican Muir Boda is thus far the only other one to file.

The districts will be where the real change occurs, though. Not only were some of the battle lines radically redrawn by redistricting, but only District 5 Council member Joe Holloway is truly seeking re-election, since District 4′s John Hall will be running for the first time for the seat he holds. Hall was appointed in 2011 to finish the term of the late Bob Caldwell, who died in office after winning the closest county election in recent memory. Caldwell unseated incumbent Democrat David MacLeod by two votes out of 4,072 cast.

Yet three district Council members will not be seeking another term – the body’s lone Democrat, Sheree Sample-Hughes of District 1 is seeking a seat in the House of Delegates, while Stevie Prettyman in District 2 and Gail Bartkovich of District 3 opted not to stand for re-election after lengthy tenures. They were the lone holdovers in the aforementioned 2006 election, and it’s possible 2014 will be similar. Two Democrats, Ernest Davis and McKinley Hayward, have already filed in District 1; meanwhile, the District 2 seat has attracted Republican Marc Kilmer.

For the most part, other county offices will hold their status quo as most incumbents have already filed for re-election. The only turnover will be in the Orphan’s Court, where two of the three current members had previously indicated their current term would be their last. Republican Grover Cantwell has already filed, but will likely be joined by a host of others from both parties – raising the prospect of contested primaries on both sides.

And while many of these officers will receive a modest bump in their paychecks in 2015, they will be hoping that 2014 brings a resolution to a number of nagging issues. Our small county can’t do a whole lot to improve the national economy, but financial pressures brought on by a shrinking income tax base and flagging property values will press County Executive Pollitt to submit a far leaner budget than he might like in an election year. While the state gave Pollitt an “out” by allowing him a workaround to the county’s revenue cap to fund local schools, the money may not be there for everything government wants – particlarly since the other end of that state deal was a larger maintenance of effort requirement. It’s noteworthy that Pollitt was vague about 2014 plans in his recent State of the County address.

The state mandates will also affect our planning. Our development is currently stymied by state law, which severely curtails the subdivision of land in areas not served by a municipal sewage system because we haven’t submitted an approved tier map. Wicomico County is closing in on a year overdue with the map, which has met resistance because farmers are understandably worried about their property values should they be placed in the most restrictive development tier. Most likely this will lead to a solution few on the local level will embrace. We also may find our county has to enact the dreaded “rain tax” since we’re one of the more populous counties not to have one yet – so we are in line.

Accountability for county schools may become an issue as well. Stymied by a legislative delegation which won’t allow the citizens a say in whether they desire an elected school board because County Executive Pollitt demands public proof of favorability – despite the 6-1 vote County Council made in favor of the resolution – the alternative may indeed become one of petitioning the issue to the ballot. The end result could be a compromise to place the issue on the 2016 ballot, one which will have a larger turnout and not feature the two Delegates who have stood in the way of Wicomico County joining the vast majority of others in Maryland and across the country which have elected bodies to monitor local education.

Obviously there will be a number of other issues which crop up in the upcoming year, but as we stand here looking forward it appears the local government is far more at the mercy of their state and national counterparts than many here feel comfortable being. These entities will be looked at tomorrow and Tuesday, the final two days of a politically bruising year.

Wicomico County could be going through changes

I mentioned the other day that there were proposed changes in the Wicomico County charter, and now I’ve had an opportunity to digest these a little bit. Many are perfunctory, but there are also some which may be controversial as well.

There are a number of changes being proposed to the charter, but some of the more provocative ones are:

  • Establishing special elections for long-term vacancies within County Council or the County Executive. This was probably a reaction to the untimely death of the late District 4 Council member Bob Caldwell, who died less than a year into his term. An appointee approved by our Central Committee and selected by County Council, John Hall, will serve the last three years.
  • Establishing a two-term limit on the County Executive. Notably, that prohibition would not extend to County Council. From what I’ve been told, this two-term limit on the county’s leader was considered as part of the original Charter change that created the County Executive position a decade ago but the Democratic County Council majority at the time balked at the inclusion of that language. It’s worthy of note that none of those four Democrats chose to run again in 2006, the election where the first County Executive was selected and the Council was stripped of its executive powers over Wicomico County.
  • Changing the number of referendum signatures required from 15% of the total number of registered voters in the county to 15% of county voters who cast ballots in the previous Presidential election. Using the active voters from October, 2008 and local results from that year’s Presidential election as a base it would reduce the number of signatures required from 7,934 to 6,278 – still a significant number. Similarly, a public-inspired change to the Charter goes from needing signatures from 20% of all registered voters (or 10,000, whichever is fewer) to 20% of participating voters, with a maximum requirement of 10,000. The 20% of participating threshold would reduce the number of signatures required to 8,371 based on 2008 numbers.
  • Giving the County Council a say on the removal of the County Attorney via a 2/3 vote (which in Wicomico County would be a 5-2 vote assuming all seven members are present.) This was probably inspired by the controversy in the city of Salisbury over their city attorney.

In discussing this with Marc Kilmer, a member of the committee who gave me the heads-up on the situation, it’s not clear just how these items would be presented should they pass muster with County Council.

But given the fact that state voters will already be facing six (and perhaps seven) ballot issues this fall, the number of local questions should probably be kept to a minimum. If they were to pass the first three issues I spell out and write the questions in such a way that these subjects be put together, with special elections for County positions as one question, term limits on the County Executive – and I would be inclined to suggest the same for County Council – as a second question, and the referendum changes as a third, I think we could call it a day.

Sure, there are other changes which probably should be made but many of them are more technical and there’s no reason we can’t come back in 2014 to make those corrections. There’s no restriction on when items supported by the Charter Review Committee can be placed before voters because, with five affirmative votes, County Council can bring those up at any time. I might even be convinced that putting off the term limits question to 2014, when we can add County Council to the roster of offices under term limits and vote in politicians who would be subject thereto, would be the way to go.

Of course we have no way of knowing what the 2014 ballot will look like at a state referendum level because there are almost always state amendments placed before voters, and if the Democratic majority in Annapolis doesn’t learn the lesson they are hopefully taught this time we may see a half-dozen or more statewide questions once again. But knowing that there are already a number of weighty issues before the voters in Wicomico County, it may be smart to parcel out changes among several election cycles and address the most important ones now. To me, making sure vacancies are filled by the people and easing referendum requirements are top priorities, while term limits can go on the back burner.

But the Charter Review Committee has done its job, and now it’s up to the people to speak. The next chance comes Tuesday evening at the County Council meeting, but there’s also e-mail and voice communications as well. This post is my take on what should be done but I’m sure readers have theirs, too.

Bloggers need not apply?

Last night I was sitting in my living room, listening to the County Council meeting on PAC14, when my jaw just about hit the floor. The question of the county’s Redistricting Committee was brought up, and objection which floored me was registered by District 1 Council member Sheree Sample-Hughes.

Her point of contention with the list of nominees was based on the fact that one of the seven members who volunteered is a fellow blogger, and the concern was that any of the proceedings would necessarily find their way onto the internet. She was also concerned that G.A. Harrison, the blogger in question, has been critical in the past of County Council members.

As it turned out, her motion to strike Harrison from the list barely got a second from at-large member Matt Holloway and was outvoted 4-3. (I seem to recall District 2′s Stevie Prettyman was the other vote to oust Harrison, but my memory could be incorrect. Suffice to say that it was a 4-3 vote.) As previously amended, the Redistricting Committee appointments passed on a 6-1 vote with Sample-Hughes objecting.

Given the situation, I thought it was prudent to put my two cents in.

In all honesty, the only difference between a person who writes a blog and a person who doesn’t is that one has a public forum which attracts the occasional reader and one does not. There are people out there who don’t write as an avocation who are prone to spilling the beans on whatever happens to someone who then disseminates the information – hence we get such people as “unnamed sources.” It really wouldn’t matter if the person had a website or not.

This sort of situation has come up before. Back in November, the Republican Central Committee had a meeting to interview and select four applicants for the County Council seat which became available with Bob Caldwell’s passing. G.A. Harrison was at that meeting – which was open to the public – and we cautioned him to not reveal the results before each of the six applicants was selected the next day; true to his word, he did not. As you can read, I did, but the post was set for noon the following day as agreed.

But the events of last night bring up another question. Obviously readers know I have this gig, but my writing skills have also led me to be entrusted with a post as Secretary of two different organizations: the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee and the Wicomico County Republican Club. And as regular readers are aware, each month I do a summary of the WCRC meeting. That was not without objection in the beginning, but once I was made aware of some of the concerns I tailored my reporting to be informative without getting into certain business, like the financials.

On the other hand, I don’t do reporting for most of the Central Committee meetings, with the main reason being we don’t often have guest speakers. The Central Committee summary given at the WCRC meeting normally covers the newsworthy items anyway; people don’t really have to know that (for example) we debated at our last meeting whether to allow surrogates for the various Senatorial campaigns to speak at our Lincoln Day Dinner in lieu of candidates who couldn’t attend. (By the way, our Lincoln Day Dinner is Saturday, February 25, and all ten Republican U.S. Senate candidates from Maryland have been invited to speak. As to the question, we will play it by ear.)

Needless to say, I have to constantly use my judgement on what to write about party affairs but over the years I’ve done this I’ve figured out where to push and where to hold off. I think G.A. Harrison can do the same with the Redistricting Committee.

And while I realize that Harrison has been a critic of several members of County Council in the past, I don’t think that acrimony is grounds to take him off a committee. That seems like petty politics to me, and I don’t think being a blogger should preclude one from serving the community in other capacities as well. Instead, G.A. should be commended for stepping up to the plate just as his other six cohorts and those others who may have expressed an interest but did not make the cut did.

A secondary election day

I always thought it was the Tuesday after the first Monday, but today was quite the election day on three different fronts.

One election I participated in was a straw poll held at the MDGOP Fall Convention over the weekend, with the results tabulated and announced today. (My analysis comes after the jump.)

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Why it should be Keim for the District 4 seat

November 14, 2011 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Politics · Comments Off 

Tomorrow the Wicomico County Council has a decision to make, and it’s of paramount importance they get it right.

As many of you know, it was a week ago that we interviewed a half-dozen candidates, all seeking to be on our four-person list that we submitted for the County Council seat. While all six had their good qualities, to me one candidate stood out above the rest and apparently the rest of our body agreed with me because she was rewarded with the highest number of votes.

While I can’t speak to the reasons the other Central Committee members picked her, it was apparent to me that Cathy Keim has a number of assets useful for a County Council member: active in both the political realm and the community at large, she can hit the ground running on the issues because she’s a frequent attendee at County Council meetings. In her application and interview, Cathy touched on a number of subjects which will be hot-button issues in the days to come and demonstrated she’ll be a well-informed advocate for the citizens of District 4. I can tell you she’s already reaching out to interested citizens on a number of issues, looking for input from various corners.

And while it’s apparent that no one can completely fill the shoes of the late Bob Caldwell, I happen to think Cathy will blaze her own trail and help lead Wicomico County in the right direction during these perilous times. This opportunity presents itself to her at a point in her life where she will have both the time and energy to be an outstanding member of County Council, and she will have three years to make the job her own. I have no doubt that she will.

So I encourage the other six members of County Council to select the best person for the job tomorrow and appoint Cathy Keim to ably represent the citizens of District 4. While we gave the Council the requisite number of choices, one stood out. I call on my readers to let County Council know Cathy Keim is the best candidate.

Odds and ends number 36

Let’s begin with an item that only gets a couple paragraphs because of the circumstances. While I’m not at liberty to share the names of those who applied, I think I can safely say that we have no shortage of applicants to send four qualified prospects up to County Council in order to fill the District 4 seat made vacant by Bob Caldwell’s passing. Offoceseekers are both male and female, represent a broad spectrum of ages, and should be very interesting to screen. So that seat will be in good hands.

Now I could have had a great scoop in releasing the names but I respect the wishes of my Chair and the process too much to let any undue influence sway the decision, a circumstance which would certainly occur if the names were made public. Remember, this is not a typical political campaign because we as a Central Committee only make recommendations. The time for voting will be later and it will be done by County Council, not our committee.

All right, now for something a lot different.

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WCRC meeting – October 2011

I suppose we were lucky he didn’t have a lot more to say.

The idea behind having Delegate Charles Otto of District 38A as this month’s guest speaker was for him to give us a rundown of the recently-completed Special Session, and once we went through the regular business of the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, welcoming of guests, Treasurer’s Report, and a moment of silence for departed County Council members Ken Matthews and Bob Caldwell, it was time for Otto to speak.

After noting that one year ago we were in the midst of a heated campaign and thanking us for the opportunity to serve, Otto termed the Special Session a “success” – if only because they stuck solely to redistricting questions and didn’t make any attempts to raise taxes.

He then showed those assembled a number of the new maps, drawing snickers from some but getting the obvious comparison of District 3 to a Rorschach inkblot test. Yet that configuration received more than the requisite 85 votes (a 3/5 majority) for passage as an emergency bill, so pending any court action these are now Maryland’s Congressional districts. One piece of good news: “Andy Harris can stay in office as long as he wants to,” Otto said.

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Candidates sought for District 4 seat

October 20, 2011 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

First, the boilerplate:

The members of the Wicomico County Council have expressed their condolences and sincere sympathy to the family of Bob Caldwell, who was elected from District 4 and served on the County Council with honor and distinction, until his death on October 11th. The County Charter states that when a council vacancy occurs before the end of the term of office, the Central Committee of the party to which the respective member so vacating was affiliated, shall prepare and submit to the County Council a list of four nominees for the vacated council seat. Each of the nominees must be of the same political affiliation and reside in the same councilmanic district as the council member whose seat has become vacated.

As Bob Caldwell was a registered Republican, the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee is seeking District 4 Republicans who are interested in being nominated for appointment to the County Council. Interested persons should contact Dave Parker, Central Committee Chairman, at 410 749-4030, or WiCoGOPChair@yahoo.com for complete information about applying. The GOP Central Committee is asking for all materials to be submitted to the Committee by October 31st. The GOP Central Committee will screen all applicants and it plans to conduct interviews on November 7th.

This notice is issued by the Wicomico County Council on behalf of the GOP Central Committee to help inform members of the public and potential applicants of the procedure. When the Committee has compiled its list of four nominees, it will be submitted to the County Council. The County Council will consider and interview the nominees, one of which will be selected for appointment by a majority vote of the remaining members of the County Council.

Wicomico County Council

Gail M. Bartkovich
County Council President

Now here’s what would be on my wish list for someone to nominate.

  • A young person, preferably born after me (I’m 47.)
  • Doesn’t matter to me if it’s a man or woman; after all whichever gender is picked has the majority.
  • Is conservative but is also perceived to be electable for the district, which skews Democratic.
  • Acceptable to the TEA Party, which likely goes with the point above, and finally…
  • Has already contemplated how to run and win in 2014 regardless of what the district may look like – remember, we haven’t done our redistricting yet.

Not much to live up to, huh? I’ve already had one prospective person call me so I guess the race is on.

Oh, and to those who always say their vote doesn’t count – had one person changed their mind last year and the coin flipped wrong, we might be talking about the Democratic Central Committee making this decision had David MacLeod met his fate instead of Bob Caldwell. Food for thought.

Wicomico County loses a fighter

October 11, 2011 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Politics · Comments Off 

Wicomico County Council District 4 member Bob Caldwell passed away this morning. He was 70.

Caldwell leaves behind a grieving family and community, since he touched the lives of thousands from his term as a Salisbury City Councilman from 1992-96 and his participation in other charitable works around Salisbury as a community leader. After a political hiatus of over a decade – spanning the time he was first diagnosed with cancer – Caldwell ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Salisbury in 2009, finishing third in a four-person primary.

But Bob won his County Council seat in 2010, enduring one of the most closely-fought elections and recounts in memory as he prevailed over incumbent Democrat David MacLeod by just two votes out of over 4,000 cast.

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School daze 2012

October 5, 2011 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Education, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off 

As I promised last night, here’s more on both the Wicomico County Council meeting and the budget input confab sponsored by the Wicomico County Board of Education at Parkside High School.

I’ll begin with the County Council meeting. You know what I said, but there was more to the story.

Once the assembled body – minus District 4 Councilman Bob Caldwell, who sent his regrets – got started, they blew through the four resolutions on the table and got to the scheduled public comment period about fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. It was still plenty of time for nine concerned citizens to get up and speak, with most of us being conservative and Republican activists.

G.A. Harrison (formerly of Delmarva Dealings and Salisbury News) got things started with his assessment that the current school board “kowtows to the unions” and that opponents of change asked for a three-way question as a “red herring…a blatant political ploy.”

“Politics is already part of the mix” of the current system, he added. Score one for the good guys.

My remarks were second, and after me came fellow Central Committee member Dave Goslee, Sr.

After thanking the Council for maintaining the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance to begin the meeting, Goslee’s main point was to state “the parents do not have the say we should have.” He also spoke briefly about proposed budget cuts like a four day school week being proposed. (More on that later, well after the jump.)

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