Cecil County Exec Moore ‘Shocked’ at Dissent on Support of Dem in Howard Co Exec Race; Claims Cecil Benefits from Distant Ally
Cecil County Executive Tari Moore, a Republican, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday that she is â€śshockedâ€ť and â€śappalledâ€ť at negative local reaction to her recent endorsement of a Democrat, Courtney Watson, who is running for Howard County executive against a well-known statewide Republican.
Moore has not responded to repeated messages from Cecil Times requesting an interview about her actions, and on Monday a staff aide said Moore would not respond to questions and directed attention to her Facebook posting on the Republican Club of Cecil County page. (So weâ€™ll post some of our questions below hereâ€¦)
[SEE previous Cecil Times report on the endorsement, and GOP fallout from it, here: http://ceciltimes.com/2014/10/cecil-county-exec-tari-moore-breaks-gop-ranks-to-support-democrat-in-howard-county-exec-race-republicans-conservative-uproar/ ]
In her post, Moore said she was â€śshocked and appalled to read the comments regarding my endorsement of Courtney Watson, who is running for County Executive in Howard County. Shocked, because I doubt any of you have even met Courtney, let alone worked with her as I have. Appalled, because judgment was passed without knowing any facts.â€ť
Moore and Watson, who has served two terms on the Howard County Council, have worked together in a womenâ€™s leadership group of the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO). Moore is the Secretary of the state organization, which represents leaders of county governments statewide.
Watson is running against state Sen. Allan Kittleman, a lawyer and former Republican minority leader in the state Senate, who has steered a more moderate and independent course within his party. He has served in the Senate since 2004 and previously served two terms on the Howard County Council.
Moore wrote that she was impressed with economic development and job creation in Howard County and suggested that her support of Watson would give her â€śinsightâ€ť on that countyâ€™s progress and â€śposition Cecil County to share in their economic successes.â€ť She did specify how the achievements of distant Howard Countyâ€”with higher incomes and educational levels than most Cecil residents, sophisticated infrastructure including a special fiber optic broadband network, and large employersâ€”could filter northward to Cecil County.
In Howard County, Moore cited creation of 12,000 private sector jobs in the past five years, â€śmore than any other Maryland jurisdiction,â€ť because â€śThey focus on technology, 3D manufacturing and growing new business at their Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship. Clearly, they’re doing something right. Not only do I want more insight on how and what they’re doing, I want to position Cecil County to share in their economic successes.â€ť
The Cecil County executive reiterated the well-known problems Cecil faces in attracting business and jobs, such as proximity to Delawareâ€™s more business-friendly regulatory and tax environment. And she noted that without â€śa viable and growing economic base, the tax burden on families will only increase, and eventually Cecil County will fail to be able to provide our most basic services. As County Executive, I need every tool in the tool box to ensure Cecil County will be equipped for the future.â€ť
Moore also defended jumping into a distant countyâ€™s local election contest because to do her best for Cecil County, â€śI can’t sit on the sidelines or work in a political silo. Working with people from all sectors and political parties is the only way you can get things accomplished.â€ť
Many critics of Mooreâ€™s cross-party endorsement of a Democrat have focused on Watsonâ€™s endorsement by liberal groups and her positions in favor of abortion rights and stricter regulation of guns. Moore pointed out that such issues are not â€śrelevantâ€ť to the job of a county executive.
But other critics, including some fellow Republicans and independents who supported Mooreâ€™s candidacy for County Executive, have been puzzled why she would interject herself into a distant political campaign, especially when the GOP candidate, Sen. Kittleman, is well-known and respected in his own party and among independents. And some worried about potential negative fallout for Cecil County from Mooreâ€™s action, especially if her chosen candidate loses.
Kittleman is running a strong campaign despite having only half as much campaign money on hand as the Democrat. In the latest campaign finance reports to the state Board of Elections, Watson was sitting on a campaign bank balance of $644,243 while Kittleman had $308,865 going into the final phase of the election season.
Kittleman has openly sought independent and Democratic voters to support him, and many have in endorsements of his candidacy. Watson has been endorsed by top level state and federal Democrats but the only recognizable Republican elected official endorsing her has been Moore, although Moore is largely unknown in Howard. But Watson cited the Moore endorsement during a recent candidate debate as evidence that she could work across party lines.
Since Moore is not taking questions from the press on the matter, weâ€™ll post some questions here in case she changes her mind, or if citizens want to pose some of these questions to her directly.
Q: Before endorsing Watson, did you talk with Sen. Kittleman about his views on economic development and how he might assist Cecil County if he wins the Howard County election? (On his website, Kittleman says that â€śeconomic development means one thing: create jobsâ€ť and he favors tax credits to promote business investment in the county.)
Q: Ken Ullman, the outgoing Howard County Executive, (who is now running for Lt. Governor on the Democratic ticket with Anthony Brown for Governor) has been in office throughout your tenure as Cecil County Executive. Since the job creation you cite was done on his watch, did you ask him for â€śinsightâ€ť in how his success might translate to Cecil Countyâ€™s far different economic and infrastructure climate? Wouldnâ€™t his â€śinsightâ€ť be more valuable than that of someone who has not held the top post?
Q: Howard County is the hub of an eight-county high speed broadband network on the Western Shore, the Inter-County Broadband Network, that is headed by Ullman, who also took the lead in developing the network which is widely credited for attracting business and jobs to that area. In contrast, Cecil County has limited and often unreliable broadband services.
A recent Cecil County taskforce appointed by the County Council offered multiple suggestions on how to enhance high speed Internet services here, including re-allocation of about $740,000 from cable TV franchise fees into a special fund to promote broadband expansionâ€”instead of dumping it into the general fund as it is now. The County Council forwarded the report to you but so far weâ€™ve heard nothing about any plans you have to act on the recommendations. Are you willing to invest those resources in local broadband expansion or do you think that somehow Howard Countyâ€™s investment on the Western Shore would aid Cecil County on the Eastern Shore?
Q: Howard County has a western area that is preserved for agriculture but most of the county is residential and hosts large businesses and institutions. Cecil County is largely rural and agriculture is a key factor in the local economy. Since Sen. Kittleman and his father operated a fruit and vegetable farm for many years, did you solicit his â€śinsightâ€ť on how agriculture and economic development could co-exist productively here?
Q: Did you consider how your crossing party lines to endorse a distant Democrat might impact Cecil County Republicans who are on the election ballot this year, especially the GOP candidates for County Council? Some of the critics of your endorsement have been supporters of your own past candidacy and some of the current Council candidates. Are you concerned about potential political fallout, such as some local Republicans staying home or not casting ballots at all in the Council races?
Q: If Larry Hogan wins the gubernatorial race, as most Republicans hope, might there be negative political fallout for Cecil County from your endorsement– since Sen. Kittleman is a Hogan-like independent on many issues? Might a Republican administration in Annapolis be wary of doing any favors for the county whose GOP executive opposed a Republican candidate with many views similar to Hogan?
Q: Why are you claiming that some â€śeconomic developmentâ€ť benefits might come Cecil Countyâ€™s way from your endorsement of the Democrat, Watson? If she is a good friend and personal ties are the real reason, why not just say so?