CECIL COUNTY CHATTER: GOP Casting Call; Jobs, Coffee in Cecilton; Smigiel Strikeouts

April 14, 2011

Michael W. Dawson Answers GOP Casting Call

Michael W. Dawson, who ran as the Constitution Party candidate for state Delegate in Dist. 34B last fall, is returning to the Republican Party fold and has answered the “casting call” of the local GOP Central Committee that is seeking to fill a vacant seat on the panel.

In an interview with Cecil Times on Thursday, Dawson confirmed that he filed an application for the committee post and he also declared that he will run again for the Delegate seat, but this time as a Republican, in 2014. (Dawson held the balance of power in that race, registering enough third-party votes to tilt the 2010 election to incumbent Democrat David Rudolph and ensure the defeat of Republican nominee Ted Patterson.)

Dawson (not to be confused with another Michael Dawson who currently sits on the Cecil County Republican Central Committee and works for Del. Michael D. Smigiel, R-36) said he felt the GOP must work to be influential at the local and state level where important decisions are made. He said his past “disenchantment” with the GOP was at the national level, when he felt that failed presidential candidate John McCain and other national party figures “folded like a cheap suit” on core Republican principles.

Locally, Dawson has been critical of what he called the “District 36 alliance,” which other less diplomatic commentators have called the “Smipkin” machine, led by Smigiel and Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36) Six of the currently-filled eight seats on the Central Committee are occupied by people who ran as part of the Smipkin “slate” of candidates in last fall’s GOP primary. “My concern about that alliance is a schoolyard bully approach, and I don’t want to lead like that,” Dawson said.

“I think I can be a bridge” on the GOP committee between different factions, Dawson said. Dawson has drawn substantial support from the Cecil County Patriots group, the local “tea party” organization that has been critical of the Smipkin organization.

The GOP committee is expected to select its choice to fill the vacant seat at the end of this month. The vacancy was caused by the recent resignation of James Hutchinson from the committee. [See previous Cecil Times report on his resignation here:

Jobs and Coffee in Cecilton

It’s been a long time since Cecilton saw much economic development but Thursday brought good news to the southern Cecil County town: the opening of a new 5,000-square-foot Royal Farms convenience store.

For years, the once-thriving community on Route 213 has had dwindling job prospects and vacant business properties. And the crossroads area has been a source of community concern, with several raids and arrests for illegal drug activity.

But it was a new day for Cecilton as a gleaming, vaguely-Colonial style Royal Farms opened its doors on the site of a long-vacant gas station/auto repair shop and two adjoining old houses.

Ralph DeSantis, district manager for Royal Farms in Cecil/Harford counties and Delaware, said the Cecilton store will employ at least 40 people, including full-time and part-time staff. He said most of the staff come from Cecil County and have already been on the company payroll for several months at other locations to receive training.

Royal Farms executives declined to say how much they invested in the Cecilton project, other than describing the costs as “substantial.” The new store includes an automated carwash as well as gasoline pumps and an array of freshly-made sandwiches and fried chicken. (Another Royal Farms modeled on the Cecilton facility will begin construction soon on the site of the old Bob’s Mini-Mart on Route 301 in Queenstown.)

At the opening ceremony, Royal Farms executives presented donation checks to local non-profit groups, including the Cecilton Lions Club, Cecilton Volunteer Fire Company, Cecilton Elementary PTO, and the Cecilton Library, which each received $500. The Upper Bay Ruritans received $250. Representatives of those groups, as well as Cecilton Mayor John Bunnell and town council members, were present for the event. We looked in vain for County Commissioners venturing south of the Canal to join the celebration.

* * *

Del. Smigiel Bats .187 This Year in Annapolis

Perhaps Delegate Michael Smigiel (R-36) should have visited the Baltimore Orioles spring training camp in Sarasota, Fla. to pick up some pointers from the team’s stellar coaches on how to improve his batting average.

In the recently concluded legislative session in Annapolis, Smigiel was the lead sponsor of 16 bills, of which only 3 non-controversial bills were passed by the General Assembly. All three won passage on unanimous votes or with just one or two dissenting votes. All dealt with legal procedural issues, such as allowing copying of subpoena documents, trusts to help pay for medical care of disabled people and allowing a portion of personal injury awards to be used to satisfy delinquent child support payments.

That’s an at-bat average that would get most ballplayers sent back down to the minors. But he did boost his batting average from the 2009 session, when he totally struck out with a 0-for-25 bills at-bat record.

This year’s Smigiel batting average would be even lower if a bill—to expand deer hunting on Sundays in Cecil County—was figured into the average. But the bill, which never even got a hearing in Annapolis, was listed as being sponsored by the “Cecil County Delegation” on the General Assembly’s bill roster.

Smigiel is the chair of the county delegation. Only Smigiel’s name was listed on a letter to the Cecil County Commissioners, late in the session, asking them to go on the record in support of the bill. Some political observers assessed the late inning pitch as a Smigiel gambit to try to get some of the Commissioners on record against a pro-hunting bill. [Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5) was the lone dissenting vote, citing constituent concerns.]

In our southern Cecil County neck of the woods, the concerns were loud and clear: some local church congregations cannot hear the pastor’s sermon on the one Sunday already allowed for hunts, due to the shotgun blasts nearby.

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3 Responses to CECIL COUNTY CHATTER: GOP Casting Call; Jobs, Coffee in Cecilton; Smigiel Strikeouts

  1. John Abbott on April 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Seems strange that none of the Cecil County Commissioners were at the opening of the Royal Farms in Cecilton. Were they invited?

  2. Bob Amato on April 15, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Glad to see Michael W. Dawson involved in the local Republican party. I believe that he has a lot to offer and agree that he can serve as a “bridge.”

  3. Seeker on April 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I don’t understand Delegate Smigiel, who seems to believe that you should embrace his view of conservatism or else you are the enemy and must be destroyed– yet he accomplishes nothing in Annapolis. Sen. EJ Pipkin seems to say, “I am rich, you are not; get over it and support me 100% or I will destroy you.”

    They combined to destroy Delegate Sossi, yet their pawn, Del. Steve Hershey, accomplished nothing in Annapolis.

    They also ran their pawns in Cecil County against all who opposed them on the property tax cap and binding arbitration for the FOP that would have cost taxpayers plenty. Then their pawns, County Commissioners Jim Mullin and Michael Dunn, proposed big cuts to public safety, thereby trashing their FOP friends despite their support in the Smipkin re-election push. WAKE UP CECIL COUNTY VOTERS.

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