CECIL COUNTY ELECTIONS: McCarthy Wins Co Exec Primary; Gregory, Meffley Win Council Seats

April 26, 2016

Cecil County Council Vice President Alan McCarthy won a solid victory in the Republican primary for County Executive in Tuesday’s election, trouncing a fellow Council member as well as two “outsider” candidates for the county’s top elected post.

With all 28 precincts reporting, McCarthy had 4,326 votes, or 39.4 percent of ballots cast. County Council member Dan Schneckenburger came in second, with 2,889 votes or 26.3 percent. He squeaked out a narrow cut above Joe Carabetta, a longtime conservative activist who received 2,574 votes or 23.4 percent of the tally. In last place was political newcomer Greg MacDonald, a self-described “liberty” candidate, with 1,195 votes or 10.9 percent.

Absentee ballots, which must be postmarked no later than Tuesday, will be counted by the local election board in upcoming days but would not alter the outcomes of the major local races. As of Tuesday, 200 Republican absentee ballots had been returned to the Board’s offices in Elkton, out of a total of 391 GOP ballots sent to people requesting them.

In the Democratic primary, Port Deposit Mayor and former County Commissioner Wayne Tome, Sr. was unopposed, so he will face-off in the November general election against the winner of the Republican primary for County Executive.

Two County Council seats were decided Tuesday in the Republican primary election since no Democratic candidates filed. The GOP candidates will thus appear on the November ballot unopposed.

Jackie Gregory, a former teacher and one of the founders of the local ‘Patriots” tea party group, won a solid 55 percent of the votes cast for the District 5 seat. She defeated Paul Trapani, a marina owner, who received 45 percent of the vote. Gregory will fill the seat formerly held by County Council President Robert Hodge, who decided not to seek re-election.

Bob Meffley, owner of H&B Plumbing in Chesapeake City, drew a commanding 59.4 percent of the vote for the District 1 Council seat, defeating Tom Cole, a retiree who was largely a no-show on the campaign trail and received 40.6 percent of the vote. The District 1 seat was held for four years by McCarthy, who chose not to seek re-election and to run instead for County Executive to replace Tari Moore, who did not seek re-election.

There was a hotly contested race for a seat on the non-partisan county Board of Education from District 2, with three candidates running. The top two vote-getters on Tuesday—Jim Fazzino, with 46.8 percent of the vote, and Erin Doordan, with 34.4 percent of the vote—will now move on to the general election ballot to run against each other for that seat. Ron Lobos, a conservative critic of the county schools and the “Common Core” curriculum, came in last, with 18.8 percent of the vote and now is out of the race.

Another school board seat in District 1 will be on the November ballot, pitting incumbent member Bill Manlove, who is also a former Cecil County Commissioner, against Kevin Emmerich, who ran on the same platform as Lobos.

In the major national and state races, Cecil County voters pretty much lined up with the rest of the state tallies in party primaries—with one notable exception: the Democratic primary for President. Hillary Clinton swept Maryland in Tuesday’s statewide primary but Cecil County Democrats only gave her a 17-vote margin over Sen. Bernie Sanders. In the Republican presidential primary, Donald Trump predictably swept Cecil County ballots, with 61.4 percent of local GOP voters.

Cecil County GOP voters favored Kathy Szeliga of Harford County for a US Senate seat while local Democrats favored Chris VanHollen of Montgomery County, reflecting the state-wide outcome. Those two candidates will face-off in November. And in the District 1 GOP race for a seat in the US House, Cecil County voters overwhelmingly supported incumbent Andy Harris, who swept past three challengers in the primary—including Michael Smigiel of Cecil County, who now has the distinction of being a three-time loser in his runs for three separate posts in recent elections.

During the Republican primary campaign in Cecil County, McCarthy, a Chesapeake City resident and the current Vice President of the County Council (R-1), described himself as a “common sense conservative” and, citing his 35-year career as a veterinarian and businessman, highlighted his experience as an employer and job creator in the private sector. He also noted his four years of service on the County Council, with additional experience dealing with state and regional agencies and advisory panels. He is the current president of the Upper Shore Regional Council and the county’s representative to the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO). His campaign motto was an optimistic “Cecil County’s best days lie ahead,” and he vowed to promote job creation and economic development to broaden the taxbase in the county so as to reduce the property tax burden on homeowners.

Schneckenburger (R-3), a Fair Hill resident who has served for less than two years on the County Council, emphasized economic development and his past service as a president of the county’s Chamber of Commerce. He was employed for several years as a “green” energy consultant in Delaware and recently joined an industrial piping sales business. Early in his campaign, he emphasized his involvement with job development as a volunteer with the Susquehanna Workforce Network and county economic development efforts. But in the final few weeks of the campaign, Schneckenburger took a more negative tone and attacked McCarthy, in personal terms and by name, in several glossy direct mail flyers and a robocall.

Schneckenburger still has two years to go on his County Council term, and the negative tone of the primary campaign—and dismay voiced privately and on social media by many Republicans over what McCarthy called the “low road” taken by Schneckenburger—may color his relationships with fellow Council members, who are all Republicans, and McCarthy if he wins the November general election for County Executive.

County Councilor Joyce Bowlsbey (R-2) said Tuesday that she will run for the post of County Council President to replace the retiring Hodge. That post is determined by a vote of the full Council.

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2 Responses to CECIL COUNTY ELECTIONS: McCarthy Wins Co Exec Primary; Gregory, Meffley Win Council Seats

  1. Rebecca Demmler on April 27, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    First of all, thanks to all who ran locally for offices in Cecil County; I know it is not easy. A most sincere congratulation to those who won.

    That said, negative campaigning has become almost as American as mom’s apple pie. On federal and state levels, we are so inundated with tactics of fear mongering and ridicule and attempts at lowering the opinion of the opponent, (to the point of spreading falsehood) that we’ve begun to accept this as ‘just the way it is.’

    But, then we have our elections here in Cecil County where campaign behavior has historically rejected such tactics. There has always been an unwritten rule against engaging in dishonest, misleading and downright devious attacks against an opponent. I found it sad that there were a few, this time around, who must have thought that negative innuendo, falsehood, and hurtful statements would deflect votes to themselves. That was most unfortunate.

    The thing is, citizens here are connected enough that we know the candidates as our peers, friends, and fellow-citizens. We appreciate that they are willing to step forward and recognize that they have the best interest of their community at heart. Of course one will be favored over another, but, this is based on the degree to which we believe and support the candidate’s strategy in dealing with local issues. Voting for one does not equate to dislike of the other. It is all about issues.

    A reminder for the future: on this local level, the voter feels a kinship to the candidate and negativity does not work.

  2. True citizen on April 27, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    These might be Replicans but none are conservative. The council and county executive elect will continue to rubber stamp the local budget submissions and raise are taxes. Mark these words as they will be reality.

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