Alan McCarthy Wins Cecil County Executive Race by Wide Margin; Manlove Holds On at School Board

November 8, 2016

Alan McCarthy, the current Vice President of the Cecil County Council, won a solid victory Tuesday in his race to become only the second County Executive under Charter government. McCarthy, a Republican, defeated former County Commissioner and Port Deposit Mayor Wayne Tome, a Democrat, by about a two-to-one margin.

McCarthy tallied 27,229 votes from early voting and Election Day ballots, while Tome received support from 13,849 voters. McCarthy racked up 66.1 percent of the vote while Tome won 33.6 percent. Absentee, provisional and overseas ballots will be counted later but the margin indicated those later counts were not likely to upset the McCarthy victory.

In the only other contested race on the local ballot, William C. Manlove narrowly retained his seat on the Cecil County Board of Education in a non-partisan race. Manlove, a former County Commissioner and an Earleville Democrat, defeated political newcomer Kevin Emmerich, by a vote of 17,832 (51 percent) to 16,892 (48.3 percent). The contest was much closer than had been expected, as conservatives rallied around Emmerich in a campaign that challenged spending on county schools and opposed the “Common Core” curriculum.

Two County Council seats were uncontested in the general election, since Democrats failed to put forward any candidates. Republicans Jackie Gregory (Dist. 5) and Bob Meffley (Dist. 1) were unopposed on the November ballot. Gregory replaces Robert Hodge, who chose not to seek re-election this year, while Meffley assumes the seat formerly held by McCarthy on the County Council. Another uncontested race was for a second seat on the school board, with Jim Fazzino the only name on the ballot.

Throughout the day, voter turnout was strong at local polling places. There were reports of long lines when the polls first opened at 7 a.m., but as the day wore on, voters moved quickly through the voting process.

“It’s been the smoothest election I’ve seen,” said Joe Carabetta, the Cecil County co-chair of the local Donald Trump campaign committee and an unsuccessful candidate in the April GOP primary for county executive. “It’s been smooth as silk.”

Carabetta disclosed a unique perspective on the local elections: two observers from the European Union were on hand at the Cherry Hill voting site to see first-hand how US elections are conducted at the micro-local level.

“I talked to two people—one from France and one from Italy—and they were from the European Union,” Carabetta told Cecil Times. The Italian observer was fluent in English and expressed admiration for the smooth operations he observed in Cecil County, Carabetta said.

County election officials said the visit was arranged through the state Board of Elections and it came as a surprise to local poll workers.

Representatives of the European Parliament, elected from member nations of that multi-national body, have long traveled to member states and to other nations to observe elections, according to accounts in British and other international press outlets. But their presence in Cecil County puts the local election process on the global map for review and apparently a positive international impression.

Meanwhile, in the local contest, McCarthy will succeed Tari Moore, a Republican and the first Cecil County Executive under Charter government, who decided not to seek re-election to the post she won four years ago.

In the April Republican primary election, McCarthy received 4,448 votes, or 39.4 percent—well ahead of all the other candidates in the four-person field—to win his party’s nomination for County Executive.

When he announced his candidacy for County Executive a year ago, McCarthy pledged to promote economic development and job creation, installation of infrastructure in the county’s growth corridor to attract businesses, and support for law enforcement in the fight against crime and drugs. While on the County Council, he has taken an active role in policy and advisory groups dealing with the drug problem and recently hosted a local “drug summit” with US Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD).

In the County Executive contest, McCarthy was endorsed by the Cecil County Classroom Teachers Association for his support of “strong schools.” He has served as a financial adviser on the board of the Cecil College Foundation to help manage its investment portfolio. He is also a licensed veterinarian who formerly owned and operated several animal hospitals in the area and has been involved in rental real estate.

McCarthy was also endorsed by the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government (CBL) political action committee, which distributed campaign direct mailings supporting his candidacy and touted the group’s endorsement in advertising. CBL first became acting in local elections about four years ago and so far all of the group’s endorsed candidates have won their election contests.

As vice-president of the County Council, McCarthy has served as the council’s representative to the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO) and as 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 has become well-known in Annapolis and has received support from County Executives in several larger counties, such as Harford County Executive Barry Glassman.

McCarthy was first elected to the County 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

Meanwhile, Tome, who enjoyed very strong support among politically important local volunteer fire companies, acknowledged from the outset of his campaign that he was “ a long shot,” in light of county voters’ recent preference for Republican candidates in general elections and his minimal campaign finance funds. But Tome said he threw his hat into the ring because he believed “I have the background, experience and credentials to do a good job as county executive.”

Tome has a long career in firefighting and emergency medical services,-serving for many years as a Battalion Chief with the Baltimore County Fire Department, with 77 people under his command. He was recently promoted to Division Chief at the agency, where he has served for over 33 years. If elected as County Executive, Tome had planned to retire from that position.

He is also the president of the county’s volunteer firemen’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 an understanding of town issues in relations with the county government.

His campaign platform pledged “striking a balance between fiscal conservatism and providing needed services” to county residents. Public safety and addressing the county’s drug abuse problems are key to the county’s future, he said.

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