Cecil County Council Election: Broomell, Dunn Ousted; Bowlsbey, Patchell, Schneckenburger Win GOP Primary
In a stunning rebuke, Cecil County voters Tuesday ousted incumbent County Councilors Diana Broomell and Michael Dunn, while Joyce Bowlsbey won the Republican nod to return to her District 2 seat. George Patchell and Dan Schneckenburger won the GOP nominations in Districts 4 and 3, respectively.
The primary election ended a years-long drama of Broomell dominating County Council meetings with verbal attacks on fellow lawmakers, county officials, and state agencies that often led to her being gaveled out of order and the summoning of Sheriff’s deputies on two occasions to ensure order at meetings.
The vote tallies also delivered a repudiation of two “Campaign for Liberty” candidates who repeatedly engaged in cyber-attacks against their opponents with allegations that often bore little resemblance to the facts. And the defeats of Broomell and Dunn marked the end of the former “Three Amigos” faction that had ruled the old county Board of Commissioners, along with former commissioner James Mullin.
With all precincts reporting, Patchell won a commanding 53.4 percent of the vote in a three way race for the District 4 seat, with 3,384 votes. Michael A. Dawson (known locally as MAD Dawson) polled 24.7 percent, with 1,570 votes, and Broomell won just 21.7 percent, with 1,379 votes.
In November, Patchell will face a strong challenger in the general election: former county commissioner and Port Deposit mayor Wayne Tome, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary election.
Bowlsbey won 57.2 percent of the GOP primary vote, with 3,549 votes, while Chris Zeauskas drew 42.7 percent, with 2,649 votes in District 2. Bowlsbey will face Democrat John Ulrich, an Elkton real estate appraiser, in the November general election.
Schneckenburger tallied 50.4 percent of the vote, with 3,031 supporters, in District 3. Incumbent Dunn drew 1,605 votes, or 26.7 percent. Robert Willick, a leader of the local Campaign for Liberty faction, came in last with 1,376 votes or 22.8 percent of the GOP primary tally for the Council seat.
In November, Schneckenburger will face Democrat Bob Porter, a land preservation activist and retiree.
Even in the final hours of her election campaign, Broomell’s camp was still drama-filled, as a key supporter, Walt Rozansky, got into an altercation with a candidate for the GOP central committee. Harold McCannick says that Rozansky bit him severely on the nose outside a polling place, forcing him to obtain medical treatment. [SEE Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2014/06/cecil-county-election-biting-political-comments-county-councilor-broomells-ally-rozansky-allegedly-bites-nose-of-political-foe-mccannick-in-election-day-fracas/ ]
Even before she formally announced her candidacy for re-election, Broomell waged her political fight from the dais of the County Council’s weekly Tuesday worksessions, dominating the agenda of meetings, interrupting fellow lawmakers as they spoke, and attacking Council members who were not running for re-election as though they were her personal political opponents.
She waged a low-budget campaign—filing affidavits with the state Board of Elections stating she did not raise or spend over $1,000 on her re-election effort and she was virtually invisible on the yard sign front in most of the county. Instead, she focused on turning out a base of supporters she has carefully cultivated on several issues, especially her opposition to drug treatment clinics using methadone to treat addiction.
Patchell, the longtime executive director of the Cecil County YMCA and a local resident whose family is well known in the area, sought to portray his leadership style in stark contrast to that of the incumbent Broomell.
In his campaign, Patchell, a graduate of Millersville University who has been with the YMCA for 17 years, emphasized job creation, expansion of the industrial taxbase and creating a business-friendly environment. And he strongly supported the county’s acquisition of the Basell property for a new vo-tech high school, which the incumbent Broomell vehemently opposed.
Patchell also disputed Broomell’s take-no-prisoners combative style, saying, “I think people are tired of the petty fighting, it’s counter-productive.”
The third candidate in the race, Michael A. Dawson, known locally as “MAD Mike” to differentiate him from another candidate for another office, filed for the seat at the last minute. That move was seen by many as a political ploy of the “name’s the same” designed to confuse voters about which Dawson was running for the seat and to split the anti-Broomell vote. But Patchell prevailed anyway.
In District 2, Bowlsbey, who was appointed to her post when Tari Moore moved up to become County Executive, ran a well-financed campaign throughout the county. She launched her candidacy with a listening tour of the county’s towns and kept up an intense pace of community group meetings in addition to her Council duties.
Bowlsbey, a retired Gore executive and longtime civic volunteer with many non-profit groups in the county, also played a key role in drafting the Charter form of government approved by voters in the 2010 elections that led to the creation of a County Council and County Executive form of local government.
Her opponent, Zeauskas, was aligned with the “Campaign for Liberty” group of pro- Rand Paul/Ron Paul conservative activists from Harford and Cecil County. Zeauskas, a frequently losing candidate for various local county offices, had repeatedly attacked Bowlsbey even before announcing his own candidacy. As chairman of the local GOP Central Committee, Zeauskas’ harsh attacks on a fellow Republican drew criticism from other party members.
In District 3 the losing incumbent Dunn was all but invisible on the campaign trail, just as he has been mostly silent during his nearly four years as a county commissioner and then County Councilor. Abandoned by his former mentor, political financier and employer Del. Michael Smigiel, Dunn was left to fend for himself as Willick allied himself with Smigiel in campaign signs around the county.