Tome Files for Cecil Co Exec, Assuring November Face-Off with GOP; School Board Seats Contested
Wayne Tome, Sr., a former Cecil County Commissioner, veteran firefighter and president of the countyâ€™s volunteer fire company association, filed on Wednesday as a candidate for County Executive. Tome was the only Democrat to file for any county office in this yearâ€™s election, and his entry assures voters they will have a choice of candidates for the top elected post in the county in the November general election.
Four Republicans had previously filed for County Executive in their partyâ€™s primary election, which will be held on April 26. Only voters who have registered as Republicans can cast ballots in that partyâ€™s contest. Since Tome is unopposed in the Democratic primary, he is assured of a spot on the November general election ballot, facing the winner of the GOP primary.
All current Cecil County elected offices (except the School Board, which is elected on a non-partisan basis) are held by Republicans. GOP voter registration holds a small edge over Democratic registrations, while there is a substantial and growing bloc of independent voters who register as â€śunaffiliatedâ€ť with any political party. Unless there are candidates from two political parties on the November ballot, those unaffiliated voters are essentially disenfranchised, with winners determined in a party primary in which they cannot vote.
The countyâ€™s Democratic Central Committee has until Monday, 2/8/2016 to appoint candidates for two County Council seats, in District 1 and District 5. If no Democrat steps up, those contests will be decided in the Republican primary. Two GOP candidates have filed in each of the council contests.
Tome had been encouraged to run by members of his own party as well as independents and even some Republicans. The crowded GOP field for County Executive includes two current County Council members and two â€śoutsiderâ€ť candidates with no elected office experience. If one of the â€śoutsidersâ€ť were to win the Republican nomination, voters would have an alternative option in Tome, who served four years on the former Board of Commissioners and is experienced in a wide array of county issues.
â€śI guess itâ€™s a long shot,â€ť Tome said of his candidacy, in light of county votersâ€™ recent preference for Republican candidates in general elections. â€śBut I feel I have the background, experience and credentials to do a good job as county executive,â€ť he added.
Tome is a Battalion Chief with the Baltimore County Fire Department, with 77 people under his command. He was been with the Baltimore County agency for 33 years and said he would retire from that position if elected County Executive. He is also the current president of the countyâ€™s volunteer firemenâ€™s association and a longtime senior official of the Water Witch volunteer fire company in his Port Deposit hometown. [Tome is also the current, and former, mayor of Port– with longstanding ties to the other towns in the county and understanding of town issues in relations with the county government.]
He said his top priorities for the county would be â€śstriking a balance between fiscal conservatism and providing needed servicesâ€ť to county residents. Public safety and addressing the countyâ€™s drug abuse problems are key to the countyâ€™s future, he added.
In the Republican primary for county executive, County Councilor Alan McCarthy (R-1) previously announced his candidacy [SEE previous Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2015/11/alan-mccarthy-cecil-county-councilor-to-run-for-county-executive-in-2016/ ] He has served four years on the County Council and is a veterinarian and businessman from Chesapeake City. McCarthy has been the Council’s representative to various state and regional organizations dealing with government issues.
County Councilor Dan Schneckenburger (R-3) has served two years on the council and is a â€śgreenâ€ť energy consultant. He has long been involved with local job development programs and economic development initiatives. [SEE previous Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2015/12/schneckenburger-to-run-for-cecil-county-exec-in-face-off-with-mccarthy-business-community-to-be-divided/ ]
Also running for the Republican nod for county executive is Joe Carabetta, a former member and chairman of the countyâ€™s Republican Central Committee who lives in the Carpenterâ€™s Point area of western Cecil. He is a retired senior testing officer at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County. He is a graduate of Penn State. For years, Carabetta has spoken during public comment portions of county government meetings, advocating reduced spending and taxes.
The fourth contestant in the GOP race for county executive is a political newcomer, Greg MacDonald of Elkton, who has supported â€ślibertyâ€ť conservative positions on local issues. He is employed at W.L. Gore and holds a black belt in karate.
In the County Council contests, two seats are at stake this year. (The other three seats on the council are not up for election under the staggered system of council elections set by the countyâ€™s Charter.) In District 1, McCarthy had to give up seeking re-election to his current seat in order to run for County Executive. Two Republicans have filed: Bob Meffley, of Chesapeake City, the longtime owner of H&B Plumbing; and Tom Cole, of Elkton, a retired Delmarva Power employee and officer of the county Republican Club. Both are newcomers to electoral politics.
In District 5, incumbent County Council President Robert Hodge (R) served two terms under the old Commissioners system as well as the council but decided not to seek re-election. He told Cecil Times that his business interests were becoming more time-consuming as the economy improves and he felt he did not have the time to devote to both the part-time Council position and the demands of his businesses.
Running in the GOP primary to replace Hodge is Jackie Gregory, a former teacher and a founding member of the Cecil County Patriots, a local â€śtea partyâ€ť group. She has been a regular attendee at county government meetings and advocates lower taxes and reduced government spending while safeguarding â€śConstitutional principles.â€ť [SEE past Cecil Times article here: http://ceciltimes.com/2015/11/jackie-gregory-patriots-leader-to-run-for-cecil-county-council-in-district-5-hodge-seat/ ] Gregory filed her candidacy in early November and has already begun an active campaign.
A late entrant into the Council 5 race was Paul Trapani, of Elkton, who filed on Wednesday. Trapani ran unsuccessfully for County Executive in 2012, raising under $1,000 for his campaign and winning only 193 votes, coming in 6th out of 7 candidates in the Republican primary. He owns an Elk River marina.
The non-partisan contests for the county school board should heat up with multiple candidates for two available seats, split between traditional backers of the school system and fiscally conservative candidates demanding greater accountability for education spending.
In District 1, incumbent Bill Manlove of Earleville, a former County Commissioner, is seeking re-election to the unpaid school board position. He is being challenged by Kevin Emmerich, a member of the countyâ€™s Republican Central Committee and a member of the Cecil County Patriots group. He is an Elkton resident and retiree.
In District 2, incumbent Lauren Camphausen was term-limited so could not run again. Seeking the open seat is Ron Lobos, a property appraiser from Elkton and a founding member of the Patriots group. Lobos has been active in county government meetings and speaking out for more scrutiny of school spending. He says he is not â€śanti-schoolsâ€ť but wants to make sure taxpayers are getting good value for their money and that direct services to children account for the bulk of spending.
Late entrants into the District 2 race were Jim Fazzino, of Elkton, and Erin Doordan, of Elkton. Both filed on Wednesday, the last day to do so.
Doordan, who has two sons in the county public schools, said she thinks the school board â€śdoes a pretty good jobâ€ť and she feels she can â€śmake a contributionâ€ť to the schools by seeking board seat. She works as an employment counselor in Delaware. â€śEducation is very important to me,â€ť she said.
In the race for US Congress in the First District, incumbent Republican Andy Harris faces three challengers in the GOP primary, but some have only filed to get on the state ballot but not yet met the threshold for filing with the Federal Election Commission. The FEC only requires filings for candidates who have raised or spent $5,000 or more on their campaigns. One challenger who has met the FEC threshold is former state Del. Michael Smigiel, a Cecil County Republican who was defeated in his last two tries for elected office: a Cecil County Circuit Court judgeship in 2012 and re-election to his Dist. 36 seat in the state General Assembly in 2014.
Two Democrats filed in the race to represent District 1, which covers all of the Eastern Shore, Harford County, and parts of Carroll and Baltimore counties: Jim Ireton, the former mayor of Salisbury on the Shore, and Joe Werner, of Bel Air in Harford County. A Libertarian candidate will also be on the November ballot.