Schneckenburger Files for Cecil County Council in Dist. 3; Past Foe of ’3 Amigos’ Pledges GOP Loyalty, Job Creation in ’14 Campaign
Dan Schneckenburger, an engineer and past member of numerous county advisory panels and business groups, filed his candidacy on 1/6/13 for the Cecil County Council seat now held by Michael Dunn (R-3).
In the recent past, Schneckenburger, a Republican, was highly critical of Dunn and his fellow members of the old “Three Amigos” majority of the county’s Board of Commissioners—a faction that also included current Council member Diana Broomell (R-4) and former Commissioner James Mullin (R-1).
In December, 2011, the Three Amigos refused to re-appoint Schneckenburger as a volunteer member of the Susquehanna Workforce Network board—shortly after he wrote an op-ed column for the Wilmington News-Journal that criticized the Amigos’ majority, calling the group “quite possibly the worst administration in the history of Cecil County.” He criticized the group’s record on “crony” appointees to various boards and commissions and the politically-tinged ouster of the county’s former director of economic development.
But in a statement announcing his candidacy this week, Schneckenburger never mentions Dunn’s name or the Amigos and seeks to bolster his credentials as a rock-ribbed conservative Republican:
“I strongly support the principles of the Republican Party – with less government, protection of personal property and second amendment rights, and more freedom for individuals and families. I am running to make sure that these principles are put into action.”
He also gets in digs at the “liberal lawmakers in Annapolis.” The General Assembly is controlled by Democrats.
Since the County Council usually doesn’t get into Constitutional issues, touting those GOP bonafides might be a bit over-reaching for a local contest. But the county currently has a slight GOP voter registration majority, and his first political battle will be to win the Republican Party nomination for the Council seat.
Dunn, also a Republican, is widely expected to run again for his seat. His financial disclosure forms to the county ethics panel show no other employment, apart from his $25,000 a year part-time job as a county Council member.
Dunn rarely if ever speaks at County Council worksessions and meetings. And some members of community panels on which he is supposed to represent the Council—such as the fire companies and the parks and recreation board– have complained that he rarely shows up at their meetings.
Without mentioning Dunn by name, Schneckenburger said, “This district has been under represented the last four years, and I promise to change that as your County Councilman.”
Schneckenburger, a graduate of the University of Delaware, is a chemical engineer who worked for many years at the former Basell research center in Elkton. He now works on energy efficient and clean technology projects in Maryland and Delaware.
In announcing his candidacy, Schneckenburger, who lives in Fair Hill, said he was looking “forward to earning the trust and support of the people in Cecil County.”
He said his top priorities were job creation, growing the local economy, and “increasing revenues from creating more employment opportunities in our growth corridor.”
[UPDATE: In an interview with Cecil Times, Schneckenburger said he was “satisfied” with current efforts by the county’s economic development department and is “very optimistic” that Cecil County is on the verge of a business investment boom. The availability of land and the county’s strategic location on the I-95 corridor give the area an advantage over other regions, he said.
[And the anticipated opening of the new county vocational/technical high school in 2015 will enhance job opportunities for local residents as well as provide the workforce training that new businesses are looking for. “I’m very bullish on the tech school,” he said. (His opponent, Dunn, repeatedly voted against the county’s acquisition of the Basell scientific building that is being renovated for the new school.)
[Asked if he considered himself a supporter of County Executive Moore, Schneckenburger said, “I would say I am.” But, he added, “she really didn’t make any changes” in her first year in office, and moving forward change will be needed. Areas that should be looked at include county departments and the capital improvement budget.
[Politically, Schneckenburger said, “I am a conservative at heart” and his initial focus is winning the Republican primary. He said he wanted to focus on his “vision” for the county—especially job creation—and will ask his opponent “where have you been” on such issues for the past four years.]
During his many years in the county, Schneckenburger has served as past president of the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the recent County Executive’s Strategic Planning Advisory Network.
He also served as vice chairman of the Charter Board in 2009-010, which drafted the Charter that was resoundingly adopted by voters in 2010 to change from the Commissioners form of government to the new system, with a County Council and County Executive. Cecil County recently completed its first year under the new Charter form of government.
Schneckenburger is the first candidate to file for the District 3 Council seat. Council seats in Districts 4 and 2 are also at stake in the 2014 elections and Republicans have filed in those contests. But so far, no Democrats have filed for Council seats. The state deadline for candidates to file is 2/25/14 and the primary election will be held 6/24/14.