Cecil County Councilor Joyce Bowlsbey Announces Election Run for District 2 Seat in 2014; Appointee to Face Voters

September 26, 2013

Cecil County Councilor Joyce Bowlsbey, who was appointed earlier this year by County Executive Moore to fill the balance of Moore’s term in District 2, announced Thursday night that she will be a candidate for election to the seat in the 2014 election.

“I’ve decided that I owe it to this county to continue to bring this county forward,” Bowlsbey said in announcing her decision to run before a Chesapeake City gathering of about 150 people organized by the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government. Bowlsbey had previously said she did not intend to run for the seat but in recent weeks re-evaluated her position, and was strongly encouraged to run by members of the local business community.

“I didn’t then, and I don’t now, have political aspirations,” said Bowlsbey, a leader in various civic, charitable and business groups for many years before her appointment to the Council in January.
But her concerns for continuing the efforts of the current Council majority to advance programs and policies to promote the county’s future prompted her decision to run as a candidate.

Before her appointment to the Council, Bowlsbey had compiled a lengthy resume of business and civic involvement, including heading the local panel that drafted the new county Charter that was approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2010.

Bowlsbey, a Republican, was appointed to fill the remainder of Moore’s Commissioner/Councilor term after Moore became the first County Executive under the shift to Charter government. The appointment generated a political firestorm from the “Smipkin” political organization, which had hoped to control who was named to the seat through the local Republican Central Committee that is dominated by loyalists of Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) and former state Sen. E.J. Pipkin.

But Moore shifted her party registration from Republican to “unaffiliated” shortly before resigning her legislative seat, thus removing the GOP panel from the power equation. Then the County Council, with only four members, deadlocked even on the process of how to proceed in filling the vacancy so, under the Charter, the decision was left up to Moore.

Smigiel filed a lawsuit against Moore and the county government in January seeking to block the appointment of Bowlsbey, but the case has dragged on and a decision by a visiting judge is expected soon.

Bowlsbey has been a key member in the current majority line-up of the Council, usually joining Councilor Alan McCarthy (R-1) and Council President Robert Hodge (R-5) in votes and policy decisions—most notably, the recent decision to acquire the Basell site in Elkton for a new county vocational and technical school. (Hodge and McCarthy won election to their seats last year so their seats will not be on the ballot in 2014.)

The two remaining members of the old “Three Amigos” group that controlled the Board of Commissioners for two years—Councilors Diana Broomell (R-4) and Michael Dunn (R-3)—opposed the Basell project. Both of their seats are at stake in the 2014 election.

The Cecil Business Leaders (CBL) group endorsed and worked to support the successful candidacies of Moore, Hodge and McCarthy in 2012 and David Williams, chair of the group’s board, said Thursday that CBL wants to expand its membership and its role in recruiting and supporting local candidates in 2014. The group strongly endorsed creation of a new vo-tech school and seeks to foster a pro-business climate and economic development in the county.

“Do you believe we can make a difference,” he asked the crowd, assembled in the expansive yard of his home. “YEAH,” they shouted in response.

“I believe Cecil County’s best days are ahead of her,” Williams said. CBL currently has 169 members and hopes to expand the roster to 500. The group also has a political action committee that can contribute to candidates or place ads endorsing its preferred candidates.

Although Dunn and Broomell’s names were not specifically mentioned, it was clear that members of the group consider their seats targets in 2014.

Mario Gangemi, CBL’s vice-chairman, noted that the opposition to the Basell school site by the old Commissioners’ majority had cost the county nearly $4 million—since the county had to pay a higher price now than it would have if the project had been allowed to proceed in the past.

“They’ve got to go,” Gangemi said. He added that the CBL group would also be recruiting and vetting candidates for the local political parties’ Central Committees. (Seven of the nine seats on the local Republican committee are occupied by Smipkin loyalists, and a closely linked political action committee frequently attacks Moore and the current Council majority on policy issues.)

Broomell recently told Cecil Times she intends to run for re-election to her Council seat. Dunn, who usually sits in silence at Council meetings, has not disclosed his political plans.

While Bowlsbey will be a first-time candidate in the 2014 election, she brings a wealth of experience and knowledge about county issues to her campaign.

She retired after 20 years service with W.L.Gore & Associates, where she was a corporate customer service and sales representative who traveled internationally for the company. After her retirement, she had a whole new career as a community volunteer for a wide range of charity, government and business organizations.

She was a member of the board of directors of the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce for five years and until her appointment to the County Council served as the chair of the Chamber’s Government Relations Committee. In that capacity, Bowlsbey attended most County Commissioners meetings and weekly worksessions for several years, giving her a broad knowledge of the issues facing the county government. She also served as a member of the county’s Planning Commission and the Economic Development Commission.

And she was on the winning side in the 2010 elections when she led a “friends of Charter’’ group that successfully convinced an overwhelming majority of county voters to approve Charter government—after multiple failed attempts to change the county’s form of government in the past several decades.

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18 Responses to Cecil County Councilor Joyce Bowlsbey Announces Election Run for District 2 Seat in 2014; Appointee to Face Voters

  1. Bob Amato on September 27, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Excellent news. She was a tireless worker on behalf of Cecil County for many years and has continued as a Councilor. She has extensive knowledge of county issues and carries out her duties in a very enthusiastic and professional manner.

  2. Betty on September 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    It is a shame that this group, Cecil Business Leaders did not do what they promised and support qualified candidates for both political parties. This is a Republican support group and should call themselves such. They state a “mistake” was made when they did not vet all qualified candidates for both party elections but this was brought to their attention beforehand and was ignored.

    • Stupid Intolerant on September 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      Dear Betty, Mrs.Bowlsby was appointed not elected. Sad truth is ignorance is easy to ignore.

  3. Bill De Freitas on September 28, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Betty, David Williams and I were the founding members of the Cecil Business Leaders; our intentions were then and now to make the group a nonpartisan organization. Though I am not on the Board anymore I am a dues paying member of Cecil Business Leaders. Being a new organization back then we made some mistakes in the vetting process and I think to this day we would agree to that.

    I have to say though, myself being in the independent voter group, we (the Board) found it very difficult to get Democrats to volunteer for the Cecil Business Leaders Board. The couple who did come on the Board within a few meetings decided that they were too busy or weren’t willing to spend the time convincing their other Board members of their opinions. CBL can not kidnap Democrats and force them to be involved.

    It’s very easy to sit on the outside and complain that CBL is not non-partisan but I challenge you to get 3-5 Democrats who are wiling to put in the time and money to help pick our next candidates. I know for a fact that the Board would welcome a 50-50% balance if that were possible, and independents also. Point being made with the challenge is have those Democracts call me personally at 410-392-9170 so we can talk and possibly get them on the Board quickly.
    Just my opinion.

    • Bob Amato on September 30, 2013 at 11:00 am

      A very simple formula determines the amount of property taxes we pay. Assessable base x tax rate = revenue. There are minor predictable adjustments for such things as Homestead Tax Credit, but the basic formula holds true. It is also true that commercial and industrial properties require less government expenditures for services than residential properties. Therefore, the county needs to attract businesses in order to increase the tax base and provide employment opportunities for residents.

      We need active involvement by business leaders who understand practical economics and business management. Infrastructure in the designated growth corridor is vital. Councilor Broomell has set the county back many years and cost us approximately $100 million by her single-handed destruction of the wastewater sale to Artesian.

      The new tech school is an opportunity to establish partnerships with businesses in order to provide employment upon graduation. We need to reject the “Ceciltucky” moniker by planning for the future.

  4. Joe C on September 29, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Joyce has done much good for Cecil County in volunteer organizations. As councilwoman she must remember she must represent all the citizens, not just the “business leaders” wishes.

    Voting to plunge Cecil County into 70 Million dollars in debt on top of the already 142 million dollar debt is not in the best interest of all citizens, just the ones who will benefit from this largess. Next year will certainly be an interesting election season.

    • Ron Lobos on September 30, 2013 at 9:49 am

      Joe, keep in mind that much of the debt that we face is a result of a state Public Service Commission meeting appearance that D. Broomell made, prompting Artesian to back out of a contract that the county now has to fill the void on. Councilwoman Bowlsby is here to help pick up the pieces of Broomell’s boondoggles.

      • Joe C on September 30, 2013 at 7:53 pm

        Please stop parroting what you hear and do some simple research. Look at the list of projects slated for this effort and you will see very little has to do with putting infrastructure on RT 40. The ENR costs could have been $11 million but the current council is set on a more expensive system because of the flawed thinking that we are going to run out of capacity. Not likely.

        Just remember the plant at Seneca Point went on line in 1973, and is now, after forty years, only at 800K gallons per day. Artesian is a company run by persons with good business sense, and they walked away from the sewer deal because it was a bad deal, not because one commissioner scared them off.

        Anyway there is no justification for plunging the county into debt, that cannot be paid back without raising taxes.

        • Ron Lobos on October 2, 2013 at 11:47 am

          Joe, you are assuming too much. That is not what Artesian said as to their reason for leaving.

          • Rick O'Shea on October 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm

            Artesian specifically blamed Broomell’s interference at the PSC for cancelling the contract. Joe C should check his facts.

          • Joe C on October 3, 2013 at 6:56 pm

            They may have said that was the reason, but if it was a good business deal they would not have walked away. They knew that there was little profit margin and a lot of headaches with the sewer system. The mistake was made selling them the water without making them take the whole deal. The county needs a better negotiator when they get involved with these big deals. Ask yourself this question, why does Artesian not buy the sewer system now, it is the same system and the board is not controlled by Ms. Broomell? A bad deal is a bad deal!

  5. Rick O'Shea on October 4, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Artesian was willing to take the wastewater operation in order to get the water operation. Broomell killed the wastewater deal by breaking the terms of the overall agreement. Broomell made it a bad deal for the county.

    So they (Artesian) got the gold mine and we got the shaft. She won’t be able to spin the facts in the next election.

    • Joe C on October 6, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      How did she kill the wastewater deal? You are irrational because you state she broke “the terms of the overall agreement”, if this was the case then the water operation deal would have been broken. Artesian did their due diligence and determined it was a bad deal, Ms. Broomell just provided an excuse, plain and simple.

      • Rick O'Shea on October 7, 2013 at 8:45 am

        Joe C, My facts are correct. She broke the terms of the contract by going to the Public Service Commission armed with a letter from her mentor Delegate Smigiel asking for a postponement of the hearing. Broomell gave them an escape from the less attractive operation. You can call it an excuse, but she caused the loss of the sale, costing the taxpayers millions of dollars. You should perform “due diligence” before making accusations.

      • Ron Lobos on October 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm

        Just wondering what Broomell’s motive was in her appearance before the PSC? Were her intentions honorable or were they self serving. I honestly believe that we all know the answer to that question. Spin it as you may, but even if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.

  6. Stupid Intolerant on October 7, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Dear Mr. C, Your suggestion the county needs a better negotiator than Broomell is obvious. If she is the benchmark then that bar is on the ground. She hired legal counsel (at our expense) and interjected herself unbeknownst to other commissioners as well as the county citizens and sabotaged the contract.

    We shouldn’t be surprised. She was standing on her principles, which are anti-business/anti-development, as witnessed by her positions on Aston Pointe, Seneca Point, Carpenters Point, Tier Map 4, Basell as well as the aforementioned Elkton West to name a few.

    These are some of the issues that will cost the citizens of this county for years. Ironically she tries to block the funding to clean up these messes.

    • Joe C on October 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      I was not talking about her being a negotiator. I was talking about those who were in charge that let Artesian walk away with the water and not the sewer. They want the water because there is no more water left in Delaware. They want to suck out of the Susquehanna Sewer and Carpenter’s Point but the state blocked that move.

      At least she has principles. Talk about a mess, the Tier maps that Ms. Moore submitted fill that role perfectly. Wait until the property owners of Tier III ground that should be Tier IV find out they cannot do major subdivisions because of the lack of acceptable Tier maps in the eyes of the Office of Planning. Tari will be a real hero then.

  7. Ron Lobos on October 8, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Dear Stupid Intolerant, you make a lot of good points. However we have an opportunity to correct, at least partially, one of these issues. That would be the Basell property purchase.

    We will give the Cecil County Public School system approximately $1B over the next 20 years. That is the same period of time that the County Executive is proposing that we float a bond for. If the CCPS can cut just 1.2% from their yearly budget, they can pay for it within their own budget instead of possibly raising taxes to pay for it.

    Simple calculations showing that a 3.7% bond on $11.4M comes to about $557,000 which is just 1.2% of the school budget. To make this happen, all we need is for the CCPS to contribute just $3M from their $8.5m Fund Balance and cut $1.2% from their budget. All other funding of the project would be left in place.

    So far, the county executive and county council have shown no interest in exploring this solution. I think everyone (except the school board) will agree that there is not one single government agency that can’t cut at least 1% from their current budget.

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