Mullin Voted President of New Commissioners Board, Broomell VP
The Cecil County Board of Commissioners elected James Mullin (R-1st) as its new president Tuesday (12/14/10) and picked newcomer Diana Broomell (R-4th) as vice president, showing the first muscle of a potential new majority bloc on the panel.
Mullin is a hold-over commissioner who was elected in 2008. He replaces Democrat Brian Lockhart as president, after Lockhart lost his re-election bid in District 3 to Republican newcomer Michael Dunn in November.
Dunn, a longtime legislative aide to Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36), made the motion to nominate Mullin as president and he also made the motion to nominate Broomell as vice president, a largely ceremonial title with no inherent powers. Broomell is also a former aide to Smigiel, although she sought to distance herself from the political faction led by Smigiel and state Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36) in her recent election campaign. Dunn and Mullin are firmly aligned with the “Smipkin” organization.
The election of Mullin came on a voice vote with no stated opposition. But on the vote to confirm Broomell as vice president, holdover Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5th) announced, “I want to abstain from the vote.”
Hodge has long been at odds with the Smipkins and had harbored hopes of being selected as president of the new Board of Commissioners. But after the surprise outcome of the November election, his prospects dimmed. Broomell, who drew much of her support from Cecil County “tea party” backers– led by the Cecil County Patriots– had been considered a swing vote, especially since the Patriots and the Smipkins have been at odds on multiple issues. However, she has longstanding political and financial ties to Mullin.
The Cecil Times correctly predicted the outcome of Tuesday’s leadership election back in November, with details of the Broomell-Mullin ties, as reported here: http://ceciltimes.com/2010/11/mullin-expected-to-take-over-as-cecil-commissioners-president/
After Tuesday’s meeting, Hodge told The Cecil Times that he abstained on the Broomell vote because he had negative memories of his early vote as a new commissioner two years ago for a budget he didn’t support but ended up endorsing so as to be a “team player” with what he knew would be a majority vote for the budget.
In less arcane terms, sources with knowledge of Hodge’s thinking told Cecil Times that he is looking for Broomell to earn his support as an independent-minded Commissioner on various issues. Broomell could well hold the balance of power on the new board, with Mullin and Dunn in the Smipkin camp while Hodge and newly elected Commissioner Tari Moore (R-2nd) are generally aligned on issues.
During their first joint work session on Tuesday, Hodge demonstrated substantial and detailed knowledge of issues pending before the Commissioners while Moore raised questions and cited research she had done on the issues. Broomell also asked detailed questions, after arriving late to the session and aggressively chewing gum throughout the meeting. Dunn was largely mute.
Striking a conciliatory tone as the meeting went on, Hodge suggested that the new Board get together informally to discuss mutual “goals” and “what do we want to do” on a long-term basis. He also advised the newcomers that there is a “two year learning curve” to feel up to speed on the many complex issues the Commissioners must address.