Cecil County Council: Bowlsbey, Schneckenburger, Patchell Win Council Seats in GOP Sweep

November 4, 2014
By


Cecil County voters elected three Republicans to the County Council in Tuesday’s election, retaining an all-GOP Council and turning back challenges by two well-known Democrats.

The only incumbent—Joyce Bowlsbey in District 2—defeated her Democratic challenger, John Ulrich, by a wide margin. She tallied 69.28 percent of the vote, while Ulrich received 30.45 percent, according to unofficial results of early voting and election day votes.

The top vote-getter in the Council races was Dan Schneckenburger, a Republican who garnered 71.5 percent of the vote to the 28.4 percent tally of his rival, Bob Porter, a low-profile Democratic candidate.

If Democrats had any chance to pick up a seat on the Council it was in District 4, where veteran County Commissioner and Port Deposit mayor Wayne Tome, a Democrat, was looking to return to the county legislative seat he lost four years ago. But political newcomer George Patchell, a Republican and the executive director of the county’s YMCA, overpowered Tome. Patchell scored 66.3 percent of the vote to Tome’s 33.5 percent.

Bowlsbey is a retired Gore executive and longtime volunteer on multiple county advisory panels, including leadership of the panel that drafted the county Charter that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2010 to change the county’s governance from the old County Commissioners system.

Her Democratic rival Ulrich is a professional real estate appraiser with strong ties to the local business community and chairs the local Democratic Central Committee.

This was Bowlsbey’s first general election, although she has been a member of the Council since early 2013, when County Executive Tari Moore appointed her to fill Moore’s old legislative seat. Bowlsbey has been generally supportive of Moore’s policies and proposals and usually sided with Council President Robert Hodge (R-5). Along with Councilor Alan McCarthy (R-1), the three often vote together, although McCarthy has taken an increasingly independent course.

(Only three of the five Council seats were at stake in Tuesday’s election. Hodge’s seat and McCarthy’s seat will be up for election in 2016.)

The campaign between Bowlsbey and Ulrich was generally polite and issue-oriented, with Ulrich saying that drug abuse was the top problem facing the county while Bowlsbey said lack of “progress” on a wide array of issues was most significant.

Bowlsbey defended the Charter form of government, which she thought was working well. Ulrich said there needed to be more avenues for the Council to assert its prerogatives to guard against “unilateral decisions” by the County Executive.

Bowlsbey ran a high-profile, well-financed campaign and was endorsed by the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government, a local group with a political action committee that published ads promoting the three candidates, all Republicans, it backed in the Council races.

In District 4, Democrat Tome, who is the current mayor of Port Deposit and Battalion Chief with the Baltimore County Fire Department, ran a grassroots campaign and said he would meet regularly with community groups to listen to their concerns. Tome cited drugs as the prime problem affecting nearly every aspect of the county’s future and a change in the “culture” of the county was needed to solve the problem.

Patchell, the longtime executive director of the local YMCA and a mentor with youth groups, said he aimed at “improving the quality of life in Cecil County” and would work in an “amicable and professional” manner on the County Council. He viewed lack of economic development as the top problem facing the county. Patchell was also endorsed by the Cecil Business Leaders group.

Patchell will replace Diana Broomell, who lost in the June Republican primary. Throughout her four year term on the former Board of Commissioners and the Council, Broomell was often a divisive force and usually in attack mode against people who disagreed with her. Even when she raised valid points on important issues, such as the county’s drug abuse crisis, her message was often overshadowed by the disruptive way she voiced her objections.

In District 3, Schneckenburger, who defeated incumbent Councilor Michael Dunn in the Republican primary, is an engineer who has served on numerous county advisory panels dealing with jobs and economic development and is a former president of the county Chamber of Commerce.

Schneckenburger ran a high-profile campaign, both in the primary and the general election, and raised a total of $11,520, according to a survey of state Board of Elections campaign finance filings through 10/24/14, including a $500 personal loan to his campaign. He received a $1,000 donation from the Cecil County Homebuilders PAC and was endorsed by the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government group, which ran ads supporting his candidacy.

Porter is a retired small business owner and land preservation advocate. Both candidates agreed that the lack of jobs in the county was the top problem facing the area. Porter ran an almost invisible campaign until the final few weeks before the election, when small signs popped up on roadsides. He filed affidavits with the elections board, stating his campaign had neither spent nor raised over $1,000.

With Schneckenburger taking over the seat held for four years by Dunn, the Council will get a more vocal and engaged member. Dunn rarely spoke at commissioners or Council meetings and local community groups, to which he was an assigned representative of the legislative body, complained that Dunn didn’t bother to attend their meetings.

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3 Responses to Cecil County Council: Bowlsbey, Schneckenburger, Patchell Win Council Seats in GOP Sweep

  1. Jay on November 5, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Ding Dong the witch is gone…. No longer do we have to hear Broomells shrew voice!!!!

  2. Alicein Wonderland on November 7, 2014 at 7:05 am

    A few more need to go Jay, the waste of taxpayers money on Animal Control is appalling. Instead of solving some of Cecil County’s animal problems they sit back and do nothing.

    How about offering free or low cost spay/neutering for dogs and cats once a month. If your worried about spending to much of your $60 thousand you can limit the number to say 25. Do something, every little bit helps.

    • Politics for Dummies on November 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      But Tari Moore insists that Animal Control is “doing a good job.” I’m starting to believe Executive Moore has been nipping the kool-aid. The issue with animal control will not go away until Tari Moore is out of office. She has made this abundantly clear with her “endorsement” of Buddy For Life and continued excuses and extensions despite breaches of contract.

      Tax-paying, law-abiding citizens are pretty much being given the middle finger on this waste of funding. Got complaints ? Then inundate Tari Moore’s office with your letters, emails, phone calls, etc. After all, she is the only one, locally, with any real power to hold the Buddies accountable.

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ALAN McCARTHY for COUNTY EXEC

*THANK YOU, CECIL COUNTY VOTERS!

* I am grateful for your support and I heard your voices on issues that concern you. I will work hard to create jobs, expand economic development, back our law enforcement officers in the fight against crime and drugs, and support strong schools..

*We will work together to make Cecil County "The Best It Can Be."

(Auth: Friends of Alan McCarthy, Roger Owens, Treas.)

https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Alan-McCarthy-for-Cecil-County-Executive-1633697220231788/?fref=ts