Cecil County Councilor Joyce Bowlsbey Announces Election Run for District 2 Seat in 2014; Appointee to Face Voters
Cecil County Councilor Joyce Bowlsbey, who was appointed earlier this year by County Executive Moore to fill the balance of Mooreâ€™s term in District 2, announced Thursday night that she will be a candidate for election to the seat in the 2014 election.
â€śIâ€™ve decided that I owe it to this county to continue to bring this county forward,â€ť 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.
â€śI didnâ€™t then, and I donâ€™t now, have political aspirations,â€ť 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 countyâ€™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 Mooreâ€™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 â€śSmipkinâ€ť 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 â€śunaffiliatedâ€ť 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 decisionsâ€”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 â€śThree Amigosâ€ť group that controlled the Board of Commissioners for two yearsâ€”Councilors Diana Broomell (R-4) and Michael Dunn (R-3)â€”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 groupâ€™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.
â€śDo you believe we can make a difference,â€ť he asked the crowd, assembled in the expansive yard of his home. â€śYEAH,â€ť they shouted in response.
â€śI believe Cecil Countyâ€™s best days are ahead of her,â€ť 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 Broomellâ€™s names were not specifically mentioned, it was clear that members of the group consider their seats targets in 2014.
Mario Gangemi, CBLâ€™s vice-chairman, noted that the opposition to the Basell school site by the old Commissionersâ€™ majority had cost the county nearly $4 millionâ€”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.
â€śTheyâ€™ve got to go,â€ť Gangemi said. He added that the CBL group would also be recruiting and vetting candidates for the local political partiesâ€™ 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 Chamberâ€™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 countyâ€™s Planning Commission and the Economic Development Commission.
And she was on the winning side in the 2010 elections when she led a â€śfriends of Charterâ€™â€™ group that successfully convinced an overwhelming majority of county voters to approve Charter governmentâ€”after multiple failed attempts to change the countyâ€™s form of government in the past several decades.