Cecil County Election: Councilor Broomell’s Ally Rozanski Allegedly Bites Nose of Political Foe McCanick in Election Day Fracas
Election day poll workers in Cecil County usually stock a supply of sunscreen, water bottles and signs to wave on behalf of their preferred candidates outside polling places. But an incident Tuesday morning indicates that hockey faceguards might also be in order: a candidate for the Cecil County Republican Central Committee says he was bitten on the nose by a key supporter of Cecil County Council member Diana Broomell (R-4) after a verbal dispute.
Eyewitnesses to the incident, which occurred shortly before 9 a.m. at the Elk Neck Elementary School polling place, confirmed that Harold McCanick, a candidate for the county’s Republican Central Committee, was apparently physically attacked outside the polling place after a verbal dispute with Walter Rozanski, a longtime close political ally of County Councilor Broomell and who was wearing a pro-Broomell campaign tee-shirt at the time.
McCanick, an outspoken local political figure who has often criticized Broomell, told Cecil Times that he verbally challenged Rozanski about his unauthorized use of a photo of McCanick’s wife on a Facebook posting with a political commentary made by Rozanski. The discussion grew heated and then Rozanski suddenly lunged at him, McCanick said, and bit his nose.
An eyewitness, Chris Ann Szep, an executive at Cecil College, said she saw Rozanski lunge toward McCanick who then leaned backwards. She said she did not see an actual bite but quickly saw blood streaming from a wound on McCanick’s nose.
First aid measures were taken on the scene to assist McCanick, multiple sources said. Then an elections board judge was summoned and he told both men to vacate the premises. McCanick said he crossed the street to await arrival of Sheriff’s deputies who had been summoned to the scene while Rozanski got into his car and drove off.
Lt. Michael Holmes, spokesman for the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department, told Cecil Times that a deputy took an incident report, which initially did not include public disclosure of the names of those involved, pending further investigation.
According to a Sheriff’s Department statement, the responding deputy observed “injuries to the male subject’s nose area consistent with being bit.”
Subsequently, according to the police statement, the second unnamed male involved in the incident went to the county’s District Court to file a complaint alleging he had been attacked by the nose-bite victim, and asserting that the nose-bite victim “put his nose into the second subject’s mouth.”
Law enforcement officials said the incident was still being investigated and no charges had initially been placed pending further review of the matter.
[UPDATE: In a follow-up statement Wednesday morning, Holmes confirmed the identities of the two men involved in the incident. Additionally, the updated statement noted that the bite victim had also gone to the District Court to file a complaint against his alleged attacker. Holmes’ statement said both men had filed complaints accusing the other of second degree assault and Sheriff’s Deputies seved criminal summons papers on both men Tuesday evening.]
News of the incident spread like wildfire throughout the county on election day, and drew bipartisan head-shaking that local politics had come to such an unseemly display.
Rozanski is a former member of the Cecil County Ethics Commission, who was removed from that post by Cecil County Executive Tari Moore due to his frequent online postings attacking county officials who had been targets of complaints to the ethics panel while he was a member supposed to provide impartial review of the issues. Some of the complaints had been filed by Broomell, according to Cecil Times sources. Broomell had appointed Rozanski to the ethics panel, under procedures giving each district one member on the panel, and she attacked Moore for using her powers under the county Charter to remove him for cause.
Cecil Times contacted Broomell for her comment on the alleged incident and to inquire whether she had discussed the matter with Rozanski and whether she would ask him to refrain from representing her campaign at local polling places for the rest of election day. (We will update this report upon Broomell’s response.) However, other sources advised that Rozanzki was visible, still wearing a Broomell tee-shirt, at other polling places later in the day.
Sources provided Cecil Times with photos of the injuries to McCanick’s nose and, while we are not medical professionals, the injuries sure look like a human bite. McCanick said he went to the Urgent Care medical center in Elkton after the attack and doctors there had to use three stitches to close the deep wound. He also said he was given antibiotics and advised that he must have an HIV test because a human bite had punctured his skin and drawn blood in a deep wound.
“I can’t believe this,” McCanick said. “I was having a verbal discussion—and I admit it got heated,” he added. “But I never thought I’d get bitten by Walt just because we disagree” on political issues.
One Broomell supporter, who was not present at the incident, said that his wife was present but did not see the actual attack. He claimed that his wife told him that McCanick was “in Walt’s face” in a verbal argument.
McCanick is a candidate for the Cecil County Republican Central Committee, where 9 seats are at stake in Tuesday’s primary election. He has been a frequent critic of Councilor Broomell on local political issues.
Rozanzki is the most visible ally of Councilor Broomell, appearing at virtually all County Council worksessions and videotaping meetings at which she clearly plays to his camera to attack fellow County Council members on a wide variety of issues.
Broomell is seeking re-election this year, facing two challengers in the Republican primary, while a well-known and experienced Democrat—former county commissioner Wayne Tome—is awaiting the GOP primary victor for a general election face-off in November.