Cecil County Council Dist. 1: The Doc and The Disoriented
It was the first public political sighting of Pamela Bailey, who has been incognito since she won the early April primary to become the Democratic candidate for the District 1 Cecil County Council seat, when she showed up in Elkton Tuesday night at a candidates’ forum. Some Democrats may have wished she stayed home.
Bailey, a secretary at the county’s School of Technology who also ran for the seat and lost four years ago, showed minimal knowledge of the current fight over “tiers” land use policies mandated by state legislation, SB236, and mis-stated the terms of a south county ambulance proposal that she claimed as her signature “behind the scenes” work effort on county policy issues.
Her opponent, Dr. Alan McCarthy, a veterinarian and businessman who defeated incumbent James Mullin in the Republican primary by a wide margin, outlined his business experience and advocated completion of infrastructure in the county’s growth corridor, a stand-up-and-fight stance against the state’s land use mandates, and creation of a ‘business-friendly’ environment to bring jobs and an expanded economic base to the county.
The candidates’ forum, sponsored by the Cecil County Patriots, the local ‘tea party’ group, drew questions from an audience of about 100 people in the senior services center at the county administration building in Elkton.
When both District 1 candidates were asked what educational or business experience qualified them to, in effect, serve on a board of directors for a multi-million dollar business entity—the county government– Bailey responded, “I have worked over in the courthouse, on a shoestring budget” and said “I know how to do without.” Additionally, she said, “I come from the poor side of town, not the rich side.”
McCarthy outlined his education—bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Maryland and doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia—and noted he had created, run and sold five businesses. “I’m pretty well grounded,” he said.
McCarthy also said he was running for the Council to “bring some sobriety and sensibility” to the county government, which he said has been lacking such qualities for the past year.
Democrats looking to organize party members and candidates for the fall campaign have been frustrated by Bailey’s lack of response, sources said, and even party leaders had no idea whether she would show up at Tuesday’s forum. Bailey explained her absence from public view by giving a detailed medical history of a family member’s health problems since June.
She repeatedly said she was “a hard worker” and had been “working behind the scenes” on issues despite her absence from commissioner meetings or other public policy events.
She cited as her key accomplishment her involvement, along with her son and others, on a plan to improve ambulance services in southern Cecil County, which is the core of the First District. She claimed the proposal made to the county by the Cecilton and Hack’s Point volunteer fire companies was “we’re going to have a paid Paramedic at their station,…a $30,000 paid position.”
However, her assessment is at odds with the facts of ambulance classifications and staffing policies as well as the proposal outlined by leaders of the two fire companies at a public meeting with the county commissioners.
Volunteer fire companies provide Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance services with a driver and an Emergency Medical Technician. The county government operates three Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances—including one station in nearby Chesapeake City– staffed by Paramedics, with more advanced training, who are county employees.
Cecilton and Hack’s Point have often “dropped calls” because they are understaffed during the day and chiefs of the companies proposed that the fire companies hire two part-time , paid EMT’s for weekday hours, at a cost to the county of $100,000 in the first year and $60,000 in the second. [SEE Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2012/04/cecil-county-volunteer-fire-companies-propose-cecilton-ambo-solution/ ] No action was taken by commissioners on the proposal and talks are ongoing to resolve the problem.
Discussion of the county’s response to controversial state legislation, SB236, to require counties to adopt “tier” maps that would limit development drew a sharp contrast between the candidates.
“Please tell me what that Senate bill is,” Bailey asked a questioner. After being given a rundown of the legislation, Bailey said, “You’re talking about farmland, possibly?” Then she said, “It would affect the farmers in a big way.”
McCarthy took an aggressive stance against the state mandate and was critical of a 3-2 majority of the current county commissioners who voted to put out to a public hearing earlier this week a “tiers” map that would place a majority of county land into a no-growth “Tier 4” category. [SEE Cecil Times report on overwhelming citizen opposition to the proposal here: http://ceciltimes.com/2012/09/tiers-tears-and-taunts-cecil-county-commish-blasted-on-tier-maps-broomell-bashes-critics-hodge/ ]
“We need to push back against state government,” McCarthy said in his opening statement. And a majority of the current county commissioners “have egregiously overstepped their boundaries” in “taking property rights away” from farm families and other landowners by proposing a more restrictive map than the county’s Comprehensive Plan, he said. McCarthy advocated the county taking legal action to challenge the state mandates.
Bailey’s performance Tuesday night was consistent with her embarrassing lack of knowledge of key issues this year during a Democratic candidates’ forum before the party primary. [SEE Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2012/03/democratic-candidates-for-cecil-county-exec-council-gntly-carve-out-turf/ ]
Nevertheless, she defeated Garrett Billmire, a farmer and younger rising star in local Democratic circles, in the April primary. Four years ago, Bailey won support from Democratic no-growth and land preservation activists who backed her in the primary because they thought she would be an easy, clueless foe for their chosen land preservation candidate, Republican Jim Mullin, to defeat in the general election. She was.