Alan McCarthy, Cecil County Councilor, to Run for County Executive in 2016
Dr. Alan McCarthy, the vice president of the Cecil County Council, a veterinarian and local businessman, announced on Monday that he will be a candidate for Cecil County Executive. The Republican is the first candidate to formally announce a run for the county’s top elected post but several other potential challengers are also considering entering the race.
McCarthy, who lives in Chesapeake City, emphasized economic development and job creation as key priorities for the county’s future. And he pledged to provide needed funds for “law enforcement and public safety,” while reviewing county government spending and operations to make sure taxpayers get “the biggest bang for the buck.”
The county executive’s position is being vacated by Tari Moore, a Republican, who announced recently that she would not be a candidate for re-election in 2016.
McCarthy was first elected to the Council in 2012, after defeating the District 1 Republican, James Mullin, a member of the old “Three Amigos” bloc that ruled the old Board of Commissioners under the direction of the former “Smipkin” political organization then headed by Del. Michael Smigiel and state Sen. E.J. Pipkin. Despite the Smipkins’ political muscle and larders of campaign funds, McCarthy scored a resounding defeat of Mullin in the Republican primary and went on to victory over a largely invisible Democratic candidate in the general election.
While McCarthy was the first out of the gate to declare his candidacy for county executive, he may not be alone for long.
Council Councilor Dan Schneckenburger (R-3) recently held a fundraiser for his campaign committee and has been highly visible at local events and on social media. Schneckenburger told Cecil Times on Tuesday that he was still considering his options and would make a decision after the Thanksgiving holidays. Schneckenburger’s Council term still has more than two years to go, so if he chose not to run for executive he would retain his legislative seat. In addition, if incumbent Council president Robert Hodge (R-5) does not seek re-election in 2016, Schneckenburger would be a prime prospect to move into the Council president’s leadership post.
In his speech, McCarthy said he hoped that fellow County Council members would “acknowledge” his record of service to the county and support his candidacy for the executive’s post.
Freshman state Del. Kevin Hornberger (R-35) has also been mentioned as considering a run for county executive. He has served four months in Annapolis and has no local government experience. But he has been an acolyte of US Rep. Andy Harris (R-1) who almost single-handedly financed Hornberger’s delegate campaign. Harris has indicated he won’t be running for the US Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Mikulski, by voicing support for Del. Kathy Szeliga’s bid for the GOP nomination for US Senate. That will leave a lot of money in Harris’ substantial warchest for donations to other candidates he favors in federal, state and local races.
So far, the political speculation and jockeying has been focused on the Republican side of local politics. Currently all local elected officials are Republicans, after the few remaining Democrats in office were swept aside in a GOP tsunami that accompanied the gubernatorial win by Republican Larry Hogan last year. Republicans now hold a slight voter registration majority over Democrats in the county but there is also a substantial and growing number of voters who classify themselves as “unaffiliated” with a political party, or independent. Independents cannot vote in a party primary but do vote in a general election.
In the 2012 elections for Cecil County’s first County Executive, Democrat Pam Howard– who had been the independently elected county Treasurer under the old Commissioners form of government—ran a strong, well-financed race but lost out to Moore in the general election.
In an interview with Cecil Times, when asked if she was considering another run for County Executive in 2016, Howard said Wednesday, “No, not at all.”
Meanwhile, as McCarthy announced his bid for County Executive, at a small gathering of supporters in the restaurant area of Minihane’s in Elkton, the candidate outlined his experience both in local government and business. As vice-president of the County Council, he has served as the council’s representative to the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO) and is president of the Upper Shore Regional Council, which covers three counties in the area in efforts to co-ordinate economic development and high-speed Internet expansion.
He also noted his background owning and operating five animal hospitals in the area in the past as well as his involvement in commercial real estate. He has also served as a financial adviser to the Cecil College Foundation to help manage its investment portfolio.
“I know what is required to start, grow and manage a viable business,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy’s event was attended by County Councilor Joyce Bowlsby (R-2), some Elkton elected officials, and business owners, including top officers of the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government. The CBL group endorsed McCarthy when he ran for County Council.
While he thanked Moore for her service to the county and expressed appreciation for her work as the first executive of the county, McCarthy also raised some points that contrast with Moore’s governing style and methods, but without any direct criticism.
McCarthy nodded toward a table where the three press representatives of local media were seated—Cecil Times, Cecil Guardian, and Cecil Whig—and said he would be open to the media and would “communicate with you fully” and, if elected, would have an “open door policy” and welcome “diverse views” on local government issues.
Moore has held just three press conferences, on each of her budget proposals, and at two of them declined to provide reporters with documents and numbers on her budget until after she made her own comments on her proposal. This year, a small excerpt of her budget proposals was given to the press about an hour before her press conference. Without substantive numbers in hand, reporters were hard-pressed to ask informed questions.
And several members of the County Council have privately grumbled that Moore did not meet with or communicate with them in advance of formal legislative resolutions sent to the panel, leaving them in the dark until the last minute about her proposed agenda.
Cecil Times shot a video of McCarthy’s announcement speech, which is unedited and was posted on the Cecil Times channel on YouTube.
You can watch McCarthy’s full speech here: