Coutz Wins Cecil County Council Seat, President’s Chair Open; Hawley Takes School Board Seat

November 6, 2018

Bill Coutz won the only contested seat for the Cecil County Council in Tuesday’s general election, scoring a landslide victory over a political newcomer, Cody Kirk. Coutz, a Republican. will take the District 2 seat to replace the retiring Joyce Bowlsbey. All seats on the five-member Council are now held by Republicans.

Coutz, who has already been attending Council worksessions since before winning the GOP primary election in June, carried 66 percent of the vote. Coutz has been a sales executive in the shade and lighting industry and vice president of the Fair Hill Races. Kirk, a Democrat who also ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Elkton town council at the same time he was running for a County Council seat, received 34 percent of the vote. Kirk says he “works in retail” after previous employment at a dollar store in Elkton.

The retirement of Bowlsbey leaves open the post of President of the County Council, which will be determined by a vote of the full Council when newly elected members are seated in a few weeks. The senior incumbent, George Patchell, who represents District 4, is not expected to seek the position. A contest is expected to come between Councilor Bob Meffley (R-1) who has been on the Council for two years, and the newly-elected Coutz.

Meffley, who owns a plumbing business, told Cecil Times he was best qualified for the job because “I get along with everyone and I’m willing to listen to both sides.” He said he wanted to “make sure the county executive and the Council are on the same page” and that councilors are not “blindsided” on issues. He said the county’s information officer should “meet with the Council” and not just put out information to the public on behalf of the county executive.

(At polling places on Tuesday, Meffley displayed an early re-election sign, with pictures posted on social media, bearing his name and urging “county council–re-elect in 2020.”)

Coutz said the fact that Meffley will be running for re-election—and the county executive’s post is on the ballot in 2020— indicates to him that the Council President’s slot should be above the fray and not embroiled in re-election politics. He cited his “leadership experience in every job I’ve had,” from businesses where he was the top official to volunteer organizations. “I know how to get people working together efficiently,” he said.

Both men emphasized that theirs was a friendly competition and that regardless of who was selected by a majority of the council members, all would work well together in the best interests of the county.

Councilor Jackie Gregory (R-5), who has held her seat for two years, said she is interested in seeking the post of Council Vice-President, which is vacant after the defeat of incumbent Dan Schneckenburger by Al Miller in the June Republican primary. “Bob is interested in being president, and I’m going to support him,” she told Cecil Times Meffley said he would include the council’s vice president in meetings with the county executive on pending issues.

The Council President chairs worksessions and legislative sessions of the County Council and the Vice President serves in the absence of the President. The President also sets the agenda of meetings, although in practice the Council has taken a largely collaborative approach to agendas.

In other voting on Tuesday, for the county Board of Education, which is considered a non-partisan contest, Diana Hawley easily defeated little-known opponent, Evan T. Jones, Jr. in District 5. Hawley was endorsed by teachers and parent groups and posted detailed position papers on social media that generally supported current school administration policies. Jones was largely invisible as a candidate but advocated “putting God back in the schools” and a “back to basics” approach to education.

Hawley won 76.5 percent of the vote while Jones received 23 percent.

Two other seats on the school board were uncontested: incumbent William Malesh in District 4 and newcomer Christie Stephens in District 3. School board members are limited to two terms and the two seats that were open were vacated by incumbents who had already served their maximum two-terms.

Most of the decisions on Cecil County officeholders were made in the Republican primary election in June, with winners in those contests appearing unopposed on the November general election ballot because Democrats did not put forward any candidates.

For the County Council, Al Miller will take the District 3 seat, after defeating Schneckenburger and another candidate in the primary. In District 5, the incumbent Patchell returns to his seat after defeating a Campaign for Liberty-aligned candidate in the GOP primary.

Amanda Bessicks has already been sworn in and started her duties as State’s Attorney after defeating a crowded field in the primary. Incumbent Circuit Court Judge Will Davis continues in office after winning a non-partisan race in which he defeated several candidates in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.

And Allyn “Lyn” Price Nickle regained her position as Register of Wills, which she had held for many years, by decisively defeating Republican Michael W. Dawson in the primary. Dawson defeated Nickle in the general election four years ago when she ran as a Democrat but this year, she switched to the GOP side and was victorious in the primary. She was unopposed in the general election this year.

Unopposed in both the primaries and on the November ballot were incumbents Charlene Notarcola, clerk of the Circuit Court, and Sheriff Scott Adams. Both will serve four-year terms.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Fine Maryland Wines
Proudly made in Cecil County