It was our last formal meeting of the year, but it also featured a return to scheduled speakers after last month’s work session. District 37B candidates Christopher Adams and Johnny Mautz, Jr. did the honors. (Incumbent Delegate Addie Eckardt, who is seeking re-election, was also invited but could not attend.)
As always, we began with the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduction of an expanding roster of distinguished guests. There were probably 40 people in attendance, which has been becoming the norm as the 2014 election draws closer and closer.
One new wrinkle is that I no longer need to read the meeting minutes, which are now posted online at the WCRC website. (I updated the page last night with the 2013 minutes.) We still heard the Treasurer’s Report, though, which had the distinction of no comparison to last year’s totals. (You may recall our November, 2012 meeting was wiped out due to the aftermath of flooding from Hurricane Sandy. The Chamber of Commerce building sustained serious damage from the “superstorm.”)
Neither Adams nor Mautz spoke at any great length, and mainly stuck to the generalities of introducing themselves and explaining why they were running rather than issue advocacy.
For example, Christopher Adams was right up front about it: “I’m a business person, first and foremost.” He added that he was “not necessarily comfortable” in politics, but ran because he was “frustrated with what I see in Annapolis.”
Adams recounted his experience at the state party convention over the weekend, saying it was “very exciting” to be part of the Maryland Republican Party. For him, the highlight was Senator David Brinkley’s remarks where Brinkley relayed the story of Senate President Mike Miller paying a rare visit to the GOP caucus in an effort to provide opposition to his own party’s excesses.
Speaking as a businessman, Christopher noted the state “is starting to tighten down” on businesses like his. Christopher became involved as the leader of his industry organization, as his company (Value Carpet One) was cited by the state for employment law violations which could have severely (and unfairly) impacted his company. His was a “test case” on the law, which has since been changed.
His goal was to be a true “citizen legislator” and eventually return to the business. I asked Christopher if he would term-limit himself and he indeed gave himself a two-term limit, based on the ages of his children who would be completing college by then and may wish to follow in his footsteps with the business.
On the other hand, Johnny Mautz was a little apologetic, saying he hasn’t been in Wicomico County enough. But the Talbot County native – whose “entire life has been invested in the Eastern Shore” – also made the case that his business (Carpenter Street Saloon) is “facing a lot of challenges.” Johnny described himself as a legislative lawyer in Washington by day, and a business manager at night and on the weekends.
Johnny described Maryland as “the leading edge of the progressive movement,” using the proposed phosphorus regulations as an example of our “out of touch” government.
But he also made a very salient point: many of the issues we are discussing now may be resolved by the time he would take office in 2015.
Mautz drew an interesting question from an audience member, who asked if the party was afraid to scuffle and “get its nose bloodied.” But both candidates – as well as District 38C hopeful Mary Beth Carozza, who was in attendance as well – made the case that you “have to be tactical.”
“Annapolis is a dangerous place for a Republican,” Mautz concluded.
After Jackie Wellfonder noted the passing of a longtime member, Dave Parker injected a lot of humor into his Central Committee report. But he turned serious when he called the Iran deal our “Neville Chamberlain moment.”
He also let the group know about some of the outcomes of the state convention, particularly the demise of the open primary which was not going to get a favorable vote from the Executive Committee.
Turning to local events, he reminded us that the next Central Committee meeting will be December 2. He also bemoaned the local employment picture, stating that the number employed in the county has been declining for several months on end. And as always, Dave encouraged people to run, saying the Central Committee needed some “new blood” as some members would be seeking other offices. “It takes a lot of courage” to run for office, said Dave.
John Palmer asked Dave to relate the story of Annapolis mayor-elect Mike Pantelides, who was the beneficiary of a Super Saturday which found a lot of new voters. Mary Beth Carozza chimed in at that topic, pointing out that education was needed about the process – she was getting quite a few registration changes by reminding would-be voters they have to be Republicans to vote for her in the primary election (and having the requisite cards handy.)
We got a number of quick updates from other candidates as well, with Marc Kilmer, Muir Boda, and Carozza making the rounds of constituent meetings and planning fundraisers.
But Delegate Charles Otto is a candidate as well, seeking re-election. (Even though no one in the room will be able to vote for him in 2014 because Wicomico County has been excised from his new district.) Otto gave some of his thoughts about matters being discussed, predicting the phosphorus regulations “would be devastating to us.” And even though there was no real scientific basis for the changes, the state was “just going to do it” so Martin O’Malley could have an environmental feather in his cap. But Otto warned that the “voters of Iowa listen to corn growers” and the incoming president of a national corn growers’ group hails from southern Maryland.
Otto also said that Obamacare “was what we said it was going to be” and told us the state was again facing a structural deficit of about $500-600 million.
Jackie Wellfonder mentioned one other event, a local fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate David Craig on December 1.
We also got an update on what promises to be a great WCRC Christmas Party on December 15. The WCRC will also be represented at the Jaycees Christmas Parade on December 8th, so organizers were looking for volunteers and a vehicle.
One final significant topic of discussion was brought up the owner of a local sign company, who posited that “we took down more signs in this county than we put up.” Simply put, he didn’t feel the county was friendly enough to business and pointed to the recent pullout of a proposed Cracker Barrel restaurant (as well as a TGI Friday’s) as evidence. Another member added that the county was also “very unfriendly” to transportation.
Obviously this was a pretty good time to bring up the topic with three candidates for and one sitting Delegate in attendance as well as a member of County Council and two others openly seeking to join him.
But I thought the subject was one which needed to be publicized, since he owns a business which depends heavily on other businesses to survive. His story needs to be backed up with facts and told in a larger venue than our small meeting.
Said small meeting, however, was the last such one of 2013. The WCRC will next convene (after the Christmas Parade and Christmas Party, of course) on January 27, 2014 – less than a month before the filing deadline.