Cecil County Politics: Business, Bipartisan Leaders Seek Reform of Current Commissioners’ Board

December 8, 2011

There wasn’t a “Smipkin” in sight Wednesday night when a new business-oriented political action committee held its first official meeting in Elkton to organize a campaign against the current ruling majority of the Cecil County Commissioners. But there was a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 300 people, a bipartisan turnout of business owners, current and former elected officials, and citizens, all seeking a new political day in the county.

Despite monsoon-like rain, the overflow crowd showed up at Mick’s Crab House (the former Bentley’s) on Route 40 in Elkton to hear organizers of the new group, Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government (CBLBG) PAC, outline their goals to educate voters, recruit candidates and raise funds in the 2012 election season.

David K. Williams, chairman of the group, surveyed the crowd and declared the event “exciting” and just the start of a new community initiative to organize citizens and business leaders to engage in county issue activism. “We’re going to be very political,” he said, “but we’re not going to be partisan.” He said Democrats, Republicans and independents were all welcome to become involved.

Indeed, the crowd was a broad mix of the local political spectrum. Republican Commissioners Robert Hodge (R-5) and Tari Moore (R-2), who are usually at odds with the current “Smipkin” majority alliance of the panel, attended. Also present were two Democratic former County Commissioners, Wayne Tome and Brian Lockhart, who lost their re-election bids in 2010, as well as retired Commissioner Bill Manlove (D-1). And state Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-Cecil Harford) was in the audience, and greeted supporters of her recently announced “exploratory committee” for a potential run for Congress in the 2nd District now represented by Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger.

Mario Gangemi, another leader of the group, criticized recent “cronies” appointments to various advisory boards and panels by the three-member ruling majority of the County Commissioners that he said were made “only for political retribution” against perceived enemies of the majority and their political allies.

At stake in the 2012 elections are two county commissioner seats, which will be converted to County Council seats after the 2012 election. And voters will also choose the first-ever County Executive of Cecil County under the Charter form of government approved overwhelmingly by voters last year.

The current five-member Board of Commissioners has become a 3-2 voting majority this year, after the election in 2010 of two new members—Diana Broomell (R-4) and Michael Dunn (R-3)—who have been aligned with Board President James Mullin (R-1) on most issues. Both Dunn and Broomell are former legislative aides to Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) and all three Commissioners—dubbed the “Three Amigos”—have generally supported and advanced the political agenda of Smigiel and state Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36). That political machine has been dubbed the “Smipkin” organization.

The so-called “Smipkin” alliance has angered local business leaders on a broad range of issues, but especially on challenges to the sale of four county sewage treatment plants to the private Artesian firm, under a contract approved by the previous Commissioners. Broomell, with assistance from Smigiel, fought to kill the sale at the state Public Service Commission. The PSC and the state’s highest court approved the sale but the contract was scuttled this fall after Artesian concluded the current political “climate” of the Commissioners could tie them up indefinitely in further challenges.

As a result, county taxpayers will be saddled with the costs of upgrading aging sewage treatment plants and extending infrastructure into the county’s Route 40/I-95 growth corridor. The lack of infrastructure has been a decades-long obstacle to economic and business development in Cecil County.

Leaders of the new PAC made it clear they will support Hodge in his re-election bid in 2012 and they are seeking an opponent to Mullin. Williams, who lives in the Chesapeake City area of Mullin’s District 1, had been suggested by some sources as a potential challenger. But he told Cecil Times Wednesday he did not plan to seek the seat and would prefer to focus his efforts on the new PAC.

The PAC will seek to recruit candidates, review their qualifications for public office and raise funds to donate to the campaigns of candidates it endorses. “We can make a difference in Cecil County,” Williams said.

[See previous Cecil Times report on the CBLBG here: http://ceciltimes.com/2011/11/cecilo-county-business-leaders-create-pac-to-support-2012-candidates/

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11 Responses to Cecil County Politics: Business, Bipartisan Leaders Seek Reform of Current Commissioners’ Board

  1. Patrick Tuer on December 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I was unable to make the first meeting, but I am looking forward to getting involved. It is refreshing to see that people are sick and tired with the lack of leadership (with the exception of Moore and Hodge) that Cecil County is faced with. It’s important to keep this momentum up through the election.

  2. Tidewater on December 12, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    What a bunch of cry babies!

    If this new group has its way, Cecil County will look like New Castle County in no time flat.

    Thank you “Three Amigos” for helping to keep Cecil County rural.

    I raise my glass to you and the state delegation for all your efforts.

    • Tom Kenny on December 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

      What’s in the glass, koolaid?

      • Tidewater on December 15, 2011 at 11:17 am

        My glass is filled with pure gin, two olives and is better than the crap between your ears.

  3. Patrick Tuer on December 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm


    Please educate yourself on the “growth corridor” where growth is supposed to go to prevent sprawl. You must be related to one of the “Amigos”.

  4. Tidewater on December 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm


    Please educate yourself on communism. You must be related to Karl Marx or a Democrat since you want to control what individuals do with their own property. Plan Maryland, Smart Growth and all it’s cousins like the “growth corridor” are illegitimate children in the “Free State”. Let the free market determine such things, not a bunch of political cry babies!

    • Observation on December 14, 2011 at 5:56 pm

      Oh Tidy,

      It would be wonderful if the free market could operate in Cecil County. Unfortunately, there is a regime that has determined through vengeance and self-righteous ignorance that business will not happen in this county. Business people and entrepreneurs need the government to not only get out of the way, but stand by the plans that exist.

      The Growth corridor is an ideal location for commerce which leaves the rest of the county as pristine and rural. The tree-huggers and no-growthers can pay my taxes since they have no solution but to stand in the way.

      Those who you call ‘political cry babies’ are, for the most part, business owners who are being stabbed in the back by a triumvirate hell-bent on destroying Cecil County. ‘Cecil Business Leaders are not affiliated with any political group. The motto ‘Good Government Is Everybody’s Business’ whose mission is: To Recruit and Support Highly Qualified candidates for Elected Offices thereby Promoting the Economic Viability of Cecil County, Maryland. You might want to become involved, or continue to stand on the shore crying your regurgitated mantra.

    • SchoolMarm on December 15, 2011 at 9:14 am

      Oh, dear, Mr. Tidewater,
      As pointed out by another commenter concerning another of your replies, more grammar problems–it’s is a pronoun/verb phrase, meaning IT IS (and all it’s cousins). A very nasty, silly error. And also, the period ALWAYS goes inside quotes. It really doesn’t take a SchoolMarm to know these things. Is there a correlation between incorrect grammar and incorrect thoughts? Proofread before sharing. (And again, you are picking on Democrats when the entire Board of Commissioners is Republican.)

  5. Patrick Tuer on December 15, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Slinging absurd statements does not make you correct. Your association of communism and controlled growth in a designated area are equally as silly. Communism is a system of social organization that controls through the state. Controlled growth, designed to prevent sprawl and promote jobs, revenue and an increased tax base is a win for the people in the county who currently have to go elsewhere for a job or are currently unemployed. It is also a win for the county, who desperately needs the associated tax revenue (especially after the 3 puppets killed the Artesian deal leaving the County on the hook for millions.)

    If you take anything away from this, please understand that infrastructure and a “competent” local government attract business, and business attracts jobs. A free market calls for unrestricted competition of business to allow prices and wages to be set accordingly without government regulation. The competition of business is not being regulated, just where they do it is, and that is anywhere, through Zoning. You wouldn’t want a Best Buy being built on something zoned Ag. I imagine you’d be singing a different tune at that point, when it suits you of course. On the contrary, what Diana [Broomell] and the other puppets have done is interfere with the free markets, because they are regulating that they don’t want infrastructure, which is preventing businesses from coming here.

    As for your labeling of me, you are not completely informed. While I am a registered Democrat, I align more conservatively on fiscal issues and more liberally on social ones. I am well educated, I am extremely successful, I don’t spend what I don’t have, I don’t have credit card debt, and I have a track record of significantly cutting expenses both personally and professionally, while still remaining operationally viable.

  6. Jackie Gregory on December 16, 2011 at 2:31 am

    You have things a bit backwards. The 3 Amigos have acted against free market principles when it comes to property rights. Regardless of their lipservice against Plan Maryland, their local policies to stop growth and to limit what individuals can do with their property are very much in line with Plan Maryland.

    They want taxpayers to subsidize open space. They are doing the bidding of CLUA, which is a self-stated smart growth organization which Broomell and Mullin helped form. They are also right in line with 1000 Friends of Maryland, an organization which has been very instrumental in pushing Plan MD, and which has Phyllis Kilby (former treasurer for Broomell’s campaign) on its board. It is interesting that CLUA, as a land use organization, has several goals related to environmentalism and conservation, but none related to protecting personal property rights.

  7. Alexis on December 18, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Tidewater, what a brilliant plan you promote! Destroy all business development everywhere as part of your “Keep Cecil Rural” policy guaranteeing that the tax base will be low and the rate would have to increase. Then refuse to raise the tax rate as part of your “Raising the Tax Rate is a Tax Increase” policy. Smipkins and Broomettes already elected must go! Patterson for Delegate is a no! Demand Moore!

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