Campaign 2014 Takes to the Towns in Cecil County Council Race
Cecil County Councilor Joyce Bowlsbey (R-2) launched her election campaign on Monday, touring the countyâ€™s towns to hear first-hand the concerns of the municipalities and pledging to give local communities a voice in Elkton.
Bowlsbey, who was appointed to her Council seat last year by County Executive Tari Moore, will be standing for election for the first time this year. Bowlsbey filled the vacancy created when Moore resigned her legislative seat to become the countyâ€™s first County Executive under Charter government.
County Council members are elected at-large, meaning that although they must live in one of the five districts of the council, voters throughout the county choose Council members, not just residents of their districts.
Bowlsbey began her day-long trek south-of-the-Canal, visiting Cecilton and Chesapeake City. Residents of southern Cecil often complain that their concerns are ignored by county-wide politicians, who locals joke couldnâ€™t find Earleville or Warwick even with a GPS device.
But Bowlsbey said she was opening her campaign with a listening tour, to hear what local officials had to say about the issues and problems facing their communities.
At the start of the morning, she visited Cecilton town hall, meeting with Mayor Joseph Zang, town administrator Brenda Cochran, and other town employees. She noted the visible changes in the town in the past few years, with the recent ground-breaking on a new moderately-priced rental housing complex next to the town library, the recent opening of a Subway carry-out, the new Dollar General store and the Royal Farms gas and food store.
Zang pointed out that the new construction was all strictly controlled by the townâ€™s architectural standards, so that they fit in with the small town character of the community.
Bowlsbey said she strongly supported bringing high-speed Internet services to the towns as an important part of the infrastructure needed to promote future economic development. Zang said he was negotiating with a regional wireless service provider to bring Broadband to the new housing complex and eventually to the town as a whole.
Next stop for Bowlsbey and a group of supportersâ€”including her campaign chairwoman, Sarah Colenda, and campaign treasurer Carolyn Kappraâ€”was Chesapeake City, where the townâ€™s vice-mayor, Bert Wells, and town employees greeted her.
â€śI really care about the towns,â€ť Bowlsbey said. â€śThe towns are the best of Cecil County.â€ť
She urged town officials to keep in touch with her, and said, â€śIâ€™m always available for you.â€ť
Wells said Chesapeake City was planning on consolidating its sewage services, now divided between the north and south sides of the townâ€”which is divided by the C & D Canal. He said the town would like to shut down the south side facility and consolidate treatment services on the north side of town, with upgrades to the most environmentally advanced systems.
He said the town would like to partner with the county to possibly expand services north of the town, to areas south of Elkton that currently do not have public sewer services, by using the Chesapeake City facilities. He said the total costs of the townâ€™s consolidation project have received preliminary estimates of at least $5 million, and the town would like the county to contribute an unspecified amount.
In her current Fiscal 2014 budget, County Executive Moore proposed a study of creating a countywide water and sewer authority that could partner with the towns as a way of expanding infrastructure needed for economic development in areas of the county currently lacking such services. But she conceded, in a recent exclusive interview with Cecil Times, that she has done nothing to advance that proposal and did not think she would pursue it in her Fiscal 2015 spending plan.
Bowlsbey expressed interest in the idea, and said she had supported using advanced technology at the county-owned Seneca Point sewage treatment plant because, although it may cost more at the outset, â€śit gives us the opportunity to meet future needsâ€ť in a â€śsmaller footprint,â€ť so that sewage plants do not have to acquire more land to serve new customers.
After touring the rest of the north-of-the-Canal towns, Bowlsbey ended her campaign launch with her first fundraiser event at the Wellwood, in Charlestown. She recounted her travels on her new campaign Facebook page, here:
Bowlsbey is getting an early start on her campaign, after filing her candidacy officially shortly after Thanksgiving. So far, no one else has filed against her in the Republican primary and no Democrat has filed in the race yet.
But some Republicans, especially conservative pundits residing outside the county, have attacked Moore for the procedures used to appoint Bowlsbey to her Council seat and as a result, there may be a challenge to Bowlsbey in the GOP primary. However, informed sources told Cecil Times that some key figures in the old â€śSmipkinâ€ť political machine that currently controls the GOP Central Committee in the county are not looking at a challenge to Bowlsbey at this time.
In the 2014 elections, only three of the five County Council seats are at stake, since the Charter staggers Council elections so that not all five seats are up for grabs at one time.
The other Council seats at stake this year are in District 4â€”currently held by Diana Broomell (R), who told Cecil Times she plans to seek re-electionâ€”and District 3, currently held by Michael Dunn (R), who doesnâ€™t speak much, if at all, at Council meetings about anything, let alone his future political plans.