Former County Council President Joyce Bowlsbey Files Write-in Challenge to new Nominee Hamilton in Dist. 2; “Experience Matters” Motto for General Election

September 9, 2022

Joyce Bowlsbey, the former President of the Cecil County Council and a longtime leader in many county civic organizations, has filed as a write-in candidate in the November general election, seeking to reclaim her District 2 Council seat that she held for six years. She is opposing political newcomer Rebecca Hamilton, who won the recent Republican primary nomination for the seat as part of a “slate” of candidates financed largely by Del. Kevin Hornberger, the spouse of county executive Danielle Hornberger.

Bowlsbey joins another write-in candidate, Phyllis Kilby, an eight-year veteran of the Cecil County Board of Commissioners and a leader in farm and civic groups. Kilby is running in November for a County Council seat now held by Donna Culberson (R-4), who was appointed to her seat last year and recently won the Republican nomination for the general election on the same Hornberger-backed “slate.”

Both Bowlsbey and Kilby face an uphill fight, since their names will not appear on the printed ballot presented to voters. Instead, they will have to convince voters to write-in their names on the correct lines for the District 2 and District 4 Council races. By filing their write-in candidacies with the Board of Election, with required financial disclosures and campaign committee documentation, write-in votes will be counted by the Board of Elections. Write-in votes for people who have not gone through the paperwork hoops of the BOE are not counted.

[SEE previous CECIL TIMES report on Kilby’s campaign here: ]

Bowlsbey was a more than 20-year employee of the WL Gore technology firm based in Cecil County and traveled the world as a customer service executive, including opening the company’s Hong Kong office and leading events in Portugal and Australia. She also held leadership roles in more than a dozen Cecil County non-profit groups, including serving as president of the local Chamber of Commerce and chair of the county’s Economic Development Commission. She also held a governor’s appointment for a three-year term on the state Economic Development Commission. She was also a member of the county’s Planning Commission for many years and also served on the Commission on Aging.

Bowlsbey was appointed in 2013 to fill the Council seat vacated by Tari Moore when Moore became the first County Executive under Charter government. (Bowlsbey was the volunteer head of a commission that drafted the Charter referendum measure that was approved by voters.) Bowlsbey then won her seat in the 2014 election and served as Council President from 2016 through 2018. She did not seek another term in 2018, so as to spend more time with family and devote her energies to various civic and charity groups. She is currently president of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a group that assists children in the local foster care system.

Ever since she left Council office, Bowlsbey has still attended, in person, County Council worksessions each week and is up to speed on a wide variety of the issues facing the Council and the county.

Bowlsbey’s extensive resume of civic involvement and business leadership makes it not surprising that her campaign motto is “experience matters.”

In an interview with Cecil Times, Bowlsbey said she was “very concerned” that a “system of checks and balances” called for in the county Charter was in danger of being killed by Danielle Hornberger’s administration, with the help of her hand-picked County Council candidates in the GOP primary.

Those candidates, plus Hornberger pal Jackie Gregory (R-5) would create a majority control bloc on the Council and Gregory has already served notice that she plans to oust current Council President Bob Meffley (R-1) from his leadership role in December when a new Council is sworn in.

In addition, Bowlsbey said she was “extremely concerned” that the Hornberger administration was threatening public safety by short-changing the Sheriff’s Office on pay and benefits for Deputies and Corrections officers. She said she would “absolutely support” binding arbitration for the FOP union representing Deputies and other bargaining units for corrections officers. She noted that Hornberger and her county attorney, Lawrence Scott, “shortchanged” the deputies in their most recent contract negotiations with a “take it or leave it” stance. [SEE previous CECIL TIMES report on Scott’s killing of a ‘pay parity’ clause in the FOP contract here: ]

Bowlsbey also said she was concerned that county public schools are being “shortchanged” by two years of bare-bones “maintenance of effort” funding levels by the Hornberger administration, providing just the minimum level of county funds required by the state in order to get any state financial support for education in the county.

“Honesty, integrity and transparency are words that are bantered about but we need to see all three in action,” Bowlsbey said.

Meanwhile, Bowlsbey’s opponent in November, Rebecca Hamilton, has no record of civic or community group involvement in the county. She works for a business in Delaware and has posted on social media and her campaign website that she was “called” by God to run for the Council and that it was God’s will that she won the primary election.

The primary election turnout in Cecil County was the lowest in the state of Maryland. Since there were no Democrats on the ballot, and independent or unafilliated voters were barred from voting in the primary, Hamilton won her nomination with just 4,403 votes, defeating incumbent Republican Bill Coutz, who received 4,053 votes.

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