Cecil County Politics: Patchell, YMCA Chief, Files for Council Against Broomell; ‘MAD’ Dawson Withdraws from Senate Race
The 2014 Cecil County political contests took an interesting turn this week when George Patchell, executive director of the local YMCA, filed as a Republican candidate for County Council in District 4 to seek the seat held by controversial incumbent Diana Broomell. And Michael A. Dawson—known locally as “MAD Mike”—withdrew his candidacy for a state Senate seat in a newly drawn Cecil and Harford county district.
Patchell, the longtime executive director of the Cecil County YMCA and a local resident whose family is well known in the area, filed his candidacy on Wednesday for the Republican nomination for the District 4 County Council seat. That seat is currently held by Broomell, a Republican who has been aggressively at odds with her fellow GOP County Council members for over a year.
Another Republican, Michael W. Dawson—known locally, and in his ballot filings, as “Good Mike”—had already filed to run against Broomell. MWD Dawson has taken pains to differentiate himself from Michael A. Dawson, a highly controversial former Perryville town commissioner known locally as “MAD Mike” Dawson, who had filed to run for a state Senate seat but this week withdrew his candidacy.
Apart from the classic Maryland political ploy of “name’s the same” candidacies, Michael W. Dawson, a Verizon employee and failed candidate for state Delegate in the last election, has drawn strong support from conservatives and the local ‘tea party’ organization, the Cecil County Patriots. He was the first to file a challenge to Broomell in the County Council contests for 2014.
Although officials of the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government group and political action committee declined to comment on Patchell’s recently filed candidacy, it is an open secret in county political circles that Patchell has the nod of the CBL group to take on the incumbent Broomell in 2014.
Mario Gangemi, vice-chairman of the CBL group, told Cecil Times that there had been no board meeting at which a formal endorsement of a candidate for the District 4 seat had been made. “So I can’t make a statement” on Patchell’s candidacy filing, Gangemi said.
[UPDATE: In an interview with Cecil Times, Patchell said there was “nothing official” about potential support for his candidacy by the CBL group, which he said was still going through its ‘vetting process’ for candidates in the 2014 elections.
Patchell, a graduate of Millersville University who has been with the YMCA for 17 years, traces his family’s history in Cecil County to the 1700’s and says, “We’re Cecil County proud.” He sees his potential role as a member of the County Council as advancing that pride into positive steps to move the county into the future. Job creation, expansion of the industrial taxbase and creating a business-friendly environment are among his top priorities.
And he strongly supports the county’s acquisition of the Basell property for a new vo-tech high school, which the incumbent Broomell vehemently opposed.
“It was the right move, for the right reasons,” Patchell said. “We need to invest in education and the county’s future.”
And he also distances himself from Broomell’s take-no-prisoners combative style, saying, “I think people are tired of the petty fighting, it’s counter-productive.” Patchell said he would rather focus on positive accomplishments that can be achieved by working in an “amicable” fashion on the Council. ]
Meanwhile, the entry of Patchell into the race for the Republican nomination for the County Council District 4 seat took Dawson (MWD Dawson) by surprise. Dawson, who has registered his candidacy as Michael W. Dawson, “Good Mike,” for the 2014 ballot, said he was not contacted by the CBL leadership although he expressed interest in discussing his candidacy with the business group. (The CBL group has a strong political track record in its short history in local politics, having endorsed and worked for all the winning local candidates in the last 2012 election.)
“I would have hoped we could have had an opportunity to speak beforehand,” MWD Dawson said of his overtures to the CBL group that were not reciprocated. Dawson, a lifelong Perryville resident whose family has deep roots in the community, said he had known Patchell “all my life” and added “I respect him.” But, Dawson added, “I’m in it to win it.”
The incumbent, Diana Broomell, has said she plans to seek re-election to her Council seat but so far has not formally filed her candidacy with the elections board.
Meanwhile, the “other” Mike Dawson—Michael A. Dawson, known locally as “MAD Mike”—suddenly withdrew his candidacy this week for a state Senate seat in a newly redistricted area covering western Cecil County and eastern Harford County.
A well-known Harford County Delegate, Wayne Norman, also filed for the redrawn Senate seat and has been waging a high-profile and apparently well-financed campaign in both counties of the district. [ SEE previous Cecil Times report on Norman’s announcement and candidacy: http://ceciltimes.com/2013/09/campaign-2014-wayne-norman-files-in-redrawn-dist-35-senate-reilly-cassilly-file-for-35b-house-in-cecil-county-harford/ ]
MAD Mike Dawson, a one-term Perryville town commissioner who won his seat by one vote and spent most of his time on the town board attacking the mayor and other commissioners, did not run for re-election to the town board.
The high-profile candidacy of Norman, a Republican, would no doubt have been a difficult challenge for MAD Dawson, who in past political forays had financial support from the “Smipkin” political machine of Del. Michael Smigiel and Sen. E.J. Pipkin. But the Smipkin organization is in a shambles, after Pipkin moved to Texas and Smigiel lost his bid to be appointed to the vacated Pipkin Senate seat.
A possible option for MAD Dawson is the now open seat vacated by Donna Stifler, a Harford County resident who recently announced she would not see re-election due to health issues. That seat is the second newly redistricted House of Delegates seat covering northeastern Harford County and western Cecil County in the newly drawn 35B district.