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Cecil County Politics: Patchell, YMCA Chief, Files for Council Against Broomell; ‘MAD’ Dawson Withdraws from Senate Race

November 21, 2013
By Nancy Schwerzler

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.

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15 Responses to Cecil County Politics: Patchell, YMCA Chief, Files for Council Against Broomell; ‘MAD’ Dawson Withdraws from Senate Race

  1. Stupid Intolerant on November 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    First of all, good riddance to MAD Mike! Good Mike Dawson has a deep understanding of the county operations and is very qualified and engaged–which can’t be said of the incumbent. Good Mike is easy to reach and can be seen conducting business as the vice-chair of the Republican Club of Cecil County. Check out their website for times and dates of their functions and see for yourself.

    One thing is for sure: this county can’t afford four more years of Diana Broomell!

  2. F Gaylord Moody III on November 30, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I am appalled by the Broomell/ Dunn faction, but I am not terribly impressed by the actions of CBL elected officials. I perceived that they (CBL) ran on a program of rational decision making regarding the allocation of economic resources of the county. Yet their elected officials set sewer rates by pulling numbers “willy nilly” from the air; they refuse to grapple with cost implications in their failure to make distinctions between animal control and animal rescue; they pass the buck from the county to Elkton regarding development on Muddy Lane– and those are just a few disappointments that come readily to my mind.

    I have worked with “Good Mike” Dawson in political campaigns, and I think he is honest, analytical and dependable. When CBL recruits a candidate to oppose Michael W. Dawson, it is offensive to me that “Good Mike” was not given a “heads up.” If Mario wanted to be king maker, he could have focused on the Dunn seat rather than create another faction on the local political scene regarding the Broomell seat.

    The tragi-comedy of Cecil County just gets curiouser and curiouser.

  3. Jeanne D on December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Has anyone forgotten District 3? Dunn is up for re-election (maybe) as well. It seems anti productive to run 2 good candidates against Broomell in a primary which will then give the incumbent the edge. I have yet to hear of any discussion for District 3. Dunn is also a leftover of the three amigos and useless. One good primary candidate in each of these Districts would be less advantageous to the incumbent. Running two candidates against the incumbent will split the votes and could just give Broomell and Dunn the advantage. I’m not a politician but I certainly don’t like those odds.

    • SchoolMarm on December 4, 2013 at 7:53 am

      Are there residency requirements for candidates running in each District? I do not know if that is required or not.

      EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, there are residency requirements to run in each District. However, County Council members are elected at-large– meaning that voters throughout the county get to vote on all Council candidates.

    • Tina Sharp on February 5, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Dan Schneckenburger

  4. Joe C on December 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Don’t worry we will soon have in district voting as was originally planned in Charter, that way the “power brokers” will need to spend less to elect their anointed ones. Just watch the campaign reports and the plan will be obvious. First, step was taken this past Tuesday, when the redistricting plan that violated the charter was passed by the CBL controlled council.

    • Stupid Intolerant on December 8, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      I heard they were controlled by aliens.I also heard the Ethics commission and Tier Map 4 is controlled by Broomaliens.

      • Joe C on December 11, 2013 at 8:10 pm

        Your screen name is accurate. They are controlled by their contributors. In district voting is just one court case away!

    • Michael W. Dawson on December 15, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      Ultimately, the question before the Council was for Redistricting Option #7 as submitted by the appointed Redistricting Commission (5 Democrats and 5 Republicans nominated by their respective county central committee), or Redistricting Option #8 as previously rejected by the Redistricting Commission and subsequently introduced by Councilwoman Broomell.

      Both Council members and private citizens expressed their perceived merits and flaws of each plan, including Joe C. The Council rejected Broomell’s Option #8, electing to allow the Redistricting Commission’s submitted plan to become law as a direct act of the Charter.

      It is now a bit disingenuous for some to play the “Chicken Little” card, as if there was a massive conspiracy to compel in-district voting through litigation and an activist court ruling. Sadly, this ‘red herring’ argument only detracts from any positive discussion that could arise from debating the redistricting plan options as a whole.

      Setting aside these personal self-interests and derision, let’s move forward under the cover of a cooperative respect, one for another, to bring about a better Cecil County.

      • Joe C on December 19, 2013 at 6:58 am

        Mike,
        You forgot that the “approved” plan violates the charter. District 4 is not compact unless you consider Delaware to the Susquehanna compact! Let’s not forget that the deciding vote on the commission moved out of the state shortly after the vote!

        • BJ on December 20, 2013 at 9:57 pm

          Joe, nothing is Cecil County is “compact” – just look at the current District 1 as an example.

          Get over your conspiracy theories.

          • Joe C on December 21, 2013 at 6:55 pm

            No conspiracy theory needed just facts, just take a deep breath and google legal cases about in district voting and everything will be clear to you. District 1 is unchanged do not worry!

        • Michael W. Dawson on January 26, 2014 at 8:46 am

          Joe,

          It is important to consider ALL of the criteria set before the Redistricting Commission. A proposed district’s boundaries, and its measure of compactness, is relative within the context of the other Charter requirements of it being “… contiguous, substantially equal in population, and have common interests as a result of geography, occupation, history, or existing political boundaries.” All of the requirements are, to varying levels, subjective in interpretation and application – even the quantifiable “equal in population” is tempered with the modifier “substantially.”

          The commission developed and submitted a workable plan with the required report explaining it. I appreciate and value the time and effort the individual citizen-volunteer members of the Redistricting Commission put forth. The unique, self-executing design of redistricting that allows the redrawn councilmanic district boundaries to be written into law means that, unless review of the report finds gross negligence to the charge, or it violates provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the decennial Councilmanic District plan submitted ought to remain independent of any council member’s political self-interest.

          As to your assertion that at-large voting is at the precipice of falling to a legal challenge, such would be an uphill federal case against the Maryland Constitution which offers that, “The charter for the government of any county governed by the provisions of this Article may provide for the election of members of the county council by the voters of councilmanic districts therein established, or by the voters of the entire county, or by a combination of these methods of election.” (Art. XI-A, § 3A)

          • Joe C on January 26, 2014 at 2:49 pm

            Mike,
            Thank you for the history lesson, perhaps you have a future as a teacher. Just look to the west and you will see the future of Cecil County.

  5. Duct Taper on February 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    As I look to the west I see the sun setting on Dianna Broomell’s political career.Unfortunatly the history lesson behind it is going to cost the county tax payers for a long time to come.

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