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.
However, the political wheels won’t leave a great deal of time for grieving, as the Wicomico County Charter notes in Section 205.A:
One (1), two (2) or three (3) vacancies occurring simultaneously in the office of the County Council prior to the expiration of the term thereof shall be filled by a qualified person or persons within thirty (30) days after the vacancy occurs by the County Council, by election by majority vote of the remaining members thereof, from a list of four (4) persons for each vacancy to be submitted to said County Council in writing by the State Central Committee of the political party with which the respective Councilman or Councilmen so vacating have been affiliated, provided that the nominees or appointees shall be of the same political party and from the same councilmanic district as the person or persons whose office or offices are to be filled or from any district if the vacancy is from a council-member elected at large. Any member so elected shall serve for the unexpired term of his predecessor in office and until his successor shall qualify.
(Full disclosure: I am a member of the Central Committee which will create the list submitted for consideration.)
But while District 4 lies mostly in the city of Salisbury, many of those Republicans who competed in recent city elections would be ineligible to serve because they live just outside that district. However, one former City Council member, one who ran in 2011, and another 2009 mayoral candidate are among the Republicans who happen to live in District 4. But whether Louise Smith, Joel Dixon, or Michael Della Penna would be interested in serving is another question. The district takes in a large portion of south Salisbury from the Camden neighborhood to the Holly Center, with a small pipestem extending up to take in the neighborhood around Deers Head – Salisbury’s industrial park and other portions of north Salisbury lie within those confines. (A district map can be found here.)
While no formal application procedure has been announced, it’s likely that our Central Committee will be discussing the topic in the very near future, once Caldwell has been laid to rest. In the meantime, a community will mourn the loss of an adopted son who did a world of good in his life.