ELECTION: Lyn Nickle Wins Register of Wills Race, Returns to Office

June 27, 2018

Making a strong comeback, Allyn “Lyn” Price Nickle won a commanding victory in the hotly contested race for Register of Wills, unseating Michael W. Dawson who had scored an upset victory over Nickle four years ago.

This year’s fight was on different political turf: Nickle ran as a Democrat last time but switched her party affiliation to GOP for the 2018 elections. Dawson ran for a state Delegate seat several years ago on the Constitution Party ticket but changed his party affiliation to Republican when he ran for Register of Wills four years ago. There is no Democrat competing for the post this year, so the winner is determined in the Republican primary.

With all but two precincts tallied, Nickle “registered” 66 percent of the vote in the primary, while Dawson received 34 percent.

There were 198 Republican absentee ballots sent out by the local Board of Elections and they will be counted on June 28 and July 6. In addition, a computer glitch involving voters who changed their party affiliation or home address using kiosks or services at state Motor Vehicles Administration offices will likely increase the number of provisional ballots that will not be counted until July 5. About 80,000 voters statewide were affected by the glitch, but state Board of Elections officials said they did know how many Cecil County voters were affected.

But Nickle’s overwhelming margin in the contest gives her the assurance of victory in a race that was sweeter the second time around.

Nickle drew on goodwill and contacts she cultivated over many years in office, with many local residents writing impassioned, personal letters to local newspapers recounting their own family situations and how Nickle had guided them through the probate and estate process with professionalism and compassion.

Nickle also cited her leadership role on a statewide automation committee that had developed plans to digitize many vintage records and wills and in fact, she led Cecil County to be the first county in the state to scan and digitize those records. Registers from other counties confirmed her leadership and respect among other local Registers in letters to the editor and social media posts, and some took issue with claims by Dawson of his achievements.

Dawson did not have a similar public groundswell and wrote several letters on his own behalf, accusing his opponent of “dirty politics” and saying that he had better “leadership” qualities.

Four years ago, Dawson argued that the Register office spent too much money on its operations and should trim expenses to match the amount of “revenues” the office brings in from various fees and inheritance taxes. But that position overlooked the fact that Cecil County residents are generally low to moderate income and their estates are too small to be assessed inheritance taxes.

During a recent GOP candidates’ forum, Nickle hit back, saying that revenues had gone down on her watch because the General Assembly had rolled back inheritance taxes on farmland transfers by 1 percent, saving farm families money and easing the passage of family farms to the next generation. “That’s $4 million in your pocket…taxes you didn’t have to pay.,” she said.

And Nickle said that office operating expenses had gone up on Dawson’s watch, despite his claims that he would cut costs. Dawson said that higher health insurance costs and salary increases for state employees, including the Registrar himself, were the reason for the spending increases.


For the three-member Orphans Court, which oversees wills and estates, incumbent and Chief Judge Carolyn Crouch was the top vote-getter in the Republican primary, boosting her shot to return to the court for her fourth term. She was the only incumbent seeking re-election and, with all but two precincts counted, she had over 32 percent of the vote.

Judges on this court meet once a week to review estate and probate cases and are paid $8,750 a year plus up to $1,500 in travel expenses.

For the other two seats, competing on the Republican ballot were Robert Amato, a retired US Treasury agent and a fixture in local Republican politics and groups; Bill Harris, a pastor and longtime GOP activist from Cecilton. Harris had 30.6 percent in the vote tally while Amato carried 23.8 percent. Another candidate, Siebren Muelenberg, a real estate operator and entrepreneur, fell out of contention with just 13.5 percent.

A Democrat, Gary A. Brown, of Chesapeake City, will challenge the three top vote getters from the GOP primary in the November election for a seat on the court.

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One Response to ELECTION: Lyn Nickle Wins Register of Wills Race, Returns to Office

  1. scott carlson on June 27, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    What a waste to vote for register of wills. Makes a mockery of political affiliation in a County of ignorant voters.

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