Cecil County Primary Election Ballots Set; Meffley Unopposed for Council, Four GOPs Seek County Exec Post; Crowded US House Race

January 24, 2020

The deadline for candidates to file for the April primary elections passed at 9 p.m. on Friday (1/24/2020) with no last-minute surprises in Cecil County, as two late entrants filed several days ago in the County Executive’s race. Four Republicans are competing in the GOP primary while a Democrat is unopposed in his party primary and will face the winner of the GOP primary in the November general election.

The luckiest man in county politics is County Council president Bob Meffley (R-1), who is unchallenged in his party primary and Democrats did not field a candidate for the position. At least in theory, the Democrats’ Central Committee could still put forward a candidate after the filing deadline, but the party has not had much success in recruiting candidates for down-ballot races in the past few years.

At stake in the 2020 local elections are the County Executive position, the District 5 County Council seat, and two seats on the county school board (which is a non-partisan race.) Also on the ballot is the US House seat in District 1, which covers all of the Eastern Shore, including Cecil County, and parts of Harford, Carroll and Baltimore counties.

The candidates, and brief summaries of their credentials and policies, are as follows:




–ALAN MCCARTHY, of Chesapeake City, the incumbent elected to his first term four years ago, after serving a term on the County Council. He is a retired veterinarian, although he retains his license, and businessman. In his first year in office, he proposed the first fully balanced budget in more than 20 years in the county, and resolved to end the past practice of draining emergency reserve funds to pay for annual spending.

But to do so, he proposed a five-cent increase on the local property tax rate, with the result that the tax bill on a house assessed at $200,000 rose by $100 per year. And he put forward a raise in the local income tax rate from 2.8 percent to 3 percent. His two subsequent budgets proposed no additional tax hikes, but critics have been complaining about the initial tax policies for the past three years.

On his watch, the county has experienced an economic boom, with over 3,000 new jobs created and new, nationally known businesses locating in the “growth corridor” between I-95 and Route 40, and expansion of jobs at existing tech-oriented companies such as Northrop Grumman and Gore. But political opponents have complained that too many of the new jobs are at distribution centers or “warehouses.”

–BILL COUTZ, of Elkton—Coutz has served on the County Council for two years, initially casting himself as a pro-business advocate of economic development. In recent weeks, he has shifted positions to oppose economic development incentives, such as enterprise zones. He currently says he works for Rollease Acmeda (which is an Australian manufacturer of window shading materials) in addition to his part-time job as a Council member. On his financial disclosure statement filed last spring, he listed no other employment outside his Council job.

Weeks after taking his seat on the Council, he sought to oust Meffley as president of the panel but a majority of the full Council backed Meffley. Coutz has also taken to criticizing McCarthy in the past year on the budget, after he voted for it and did not propose any amendments seeking to change the fiscal policies during the Council’s review process.

In announcing his candidacy for County Executive several days ago, Coutz said he was running´ “because I care about you, your families, and our county” with a hashtag #coutzcares.

–DANIELLE HORNBERGER, of North East—Hornberger has been playing on her political connections in her campaign: she is a part-time district aide to US Rep. Andy Harris (R-1), her husband is state Del. Kevin Hornberger (R-35) and her campaign finance reports are dominated by donors tied to those politicians. She is a former part-time substitute teacher and worked briefly at the North Bay adventure camp. She attended a Southern Maryland community college.

Hornberger has said she wants to “rollback” all tax increases in Cecil County but has not specified what programs she would cut, or support, in order to achieve a balanced budget as required by the county Charter. She says she is “on the Trump train” and there should be a litmus test for county executive candidates to pledge allegiance to President Trump.

–EWING MCDOWELL, of Rising Sun—McDowell is a former farmer and exporter of farm animals who now works as an agriculture-related official at the state Department of Commerce. He is a longstanding close friend of Gov. Hogan’s patronage secretary, Chris Cavey, a fellow University of Maryland graduate who is supporting his local campaign.

McDowell previously ran for state office, but failed in his challenge to former state Del. David Rudolph. In his current campaign, McDowell has said he supports “zero based budgeting,” in which every department would have to justify every penny of its spending requests. However, state law sets multiple mandates on the counties, such as “maintenance of effort” rules that ban cuts in per-pupil schools spending. The state is also shifting a greater burden to the counties on paying teacher pensions and costs of state tax assessment employees who set property values on local properties.

–JEFF KASE, of Childs—Kase is a programmer for a Delaware firm and an active member in local Democratic political circles. Kase,55, holds an associate degree in electrical engineering from Delaware Tech. He has been an elected member of the Cecil County Democratic Central Committee for two years, and is also a banjo player, marathon runner, and participant in dog agility competitions.


CECIL COUNTY COUNCIL: District 1 (south county, lower Elkton)


–BOB MEFFLEY (incumbent), of Chesapeake City—Meffley, who serves as the President of the Cecil County Council, is seeking his second term on the Council. He is a plumber who operated his own business, H&B Plumbing, for many years. He has been an affable member of the Council and rarely used his position to lead fellow councilors in any particular direction. All members of the Council are Republicans.

CECIL COUNTY COUNCIL: District 5 (North East, parts of Elkton)


–JACKIE GREGORY (incumbent), of Elkton—Gregory is seeking re-election for her second term. She ran four years ago as a founding member of the Cecil County Patriots, a local group sympathetic to the national “tea party” movement. She has staked out a position as an anti-tax activist and voted against two out of three county budgets. But for the past two years, she has not proposed any specific spending cut amendments to identify which programs she would cut. Last year, she did say she wanted to cut parks and recreation operating budgets but did not put up a specific amendment for a vote.

Recently she has come under scrutiny for collecting a salary as a substitute teacher in the county school system, despite county Charter and ethics rules prohibiting Council members from being paid by any other “department” of the county. She has also submitted invoices and received taxpayer payments for tickets to dinners and social events, despite Charter and council policy rules specifically outlawing such payments.

–DON HARMER, of Elkton—Harmer is the managing partner of the Weaver’s liquor store in Elkton and a supporter of county youth sports and parks programs. He has been the chairman of the county’s Parks and Recreation board for four years and a member of the panel for nine years. He is also a current member of the county’s Planning Commission and has been active in various civic and youth sports groups, including serving for 15 years as assistant athletic director for the Tome School


US HOUSE: District 1


–ANDY HARRIS—(incumbent) —Harris lists a Stevensville (Eastern Shore) Post Office Box in his candidate filing, but in the past has identified Cockeysville in Baltimore County as his place of residence. First elected in 2010, Harris, a physician, is entering a decade of membership in the House after a previous career in the state Senate and work as an anesthesiologist. He has carved out a niche as one of the most conservative Republicans in the House and the only GOP member of Maryland’s congressional delegation. His political campaigns are dominated by donations from national political action committees and physician groups tied to medical and pharmaceutical interests.

–JORGE DELGADO, of Ocean City— A graduate of Auburn University, he worked on Capitol Hill as a staff aide to Republican lawmakers and the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. At age 30, he says he wants to appeal to younger voters and encourage support of President Trump. On his campaign website, Delgado says his platform is “to shake up Congress and challenge the status quo” and pledges “to stand with President Trump and fight for the America-First agenda.”


–ERIK LANE, of Street, in Harford County—An engineer and technology consultant and business owner. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a graduate degree from the University of California-Berkeley.

–MIA MASON, of Frederick—a 20-year decorated veteran of the military, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan. As she transitioned from male to female gender, she was discharged by the military on the basis of her status. As military policy changed, she finished her military career serving with the DC National Guard. (The Trump administration has since changed the policy to limit transgender persons from military service.) Although she resides outside the boundaries of District 1, the law allows her to run for the seat since she is a Maryland resident.)

–JENNIFER PINGLEY, of Elkton, in Cecil County—A nurse who has advocated at state and national levels for programs to improve nursing education and health care for patients. She is making her nursing experience a cornerstone of her campaign, using the tagline “It takes a nurse” to contrast with Harris’ views on healthcare.

–ALLISON GALBRAITH, of Abingdon in Harford County—A last-minute filer on Friday, Galbraith is a perpetual losing candidate for various offices, including the state legislature. She advocates for victims of sexual assault.



(Non-Partisan election—candidates appear on the ballot in both the Republican and Democratic primaries. Two seats are at stake and candidates must reside in the district they seek to represent.)

DISTRICT 1 Seat- (south county)


–SAM DAVIS, of Earleville.


DISTRICT 2 SEAT (Elkton area)


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

Leave a Reply

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


Fine Maryland Wines
Proudly made in Cecil County