Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part election interview series that involves all four Republican candidates for the June 2 primary election. Two of the candidates will run today, with the remaining two candidates to run in Friday’s edition.
ELKTON — The Cecil Whig conducted a Q & A to present to voters as they begin mailing in their ballots for the June 2 primary election.
Republican Danielle Hornberger is a community liaison with Rep. Harris’s office in Cecil County who primarily deals with Social Security and Internal Revenue Service constituent cases. Prior to that, she worked as a substitute teacher in Cecil County Public Schools and later as an educator with NorthBay Adventure Camp.
Hornberger grew up in Waldorf, and came to North East in 2010 after she married Del. Kevin Hornberger, R-Cecil. Over time, she was refreshed by the county’s rural character compared to how Waldorf was built out, the Whig reported in October 2019.
Hornberger has vowed to roll back taxes for Cecil County families.
CECIL WHIG: It’s been 10 years since the county voted itself into a charter, has the county found its footing in this form of government? Do you believe power is balanced in Cecil County?
DANIELLE HORNBERGER: “The charter government was initially decided upon — at least it is my understanding — because they felt like they couldn’t get anywhere. If you’ve got a number of commissioners and they’re just arguing amongst each other, well, maybe we need charter government and have a county executive and that will make things better.
”I don’t see that as being the case right now. Part of that is because I believe that, right now, the council is really limited. The council basically can cut items that the county executive proposes in the budget. Unfortunately, you know, we have a bunch of people on county council — well, five people on county council. You’re going to be hard pressed to get them to all agree on [what items should be cut]. Because they all have their points of interest ... that they think are more important or less important. So, you run into, now, a situation where you have the county executive, and it’s almost impossible to make changes to whatever he or she [proposes]. ...
CW: What is your opinion on the county-implemented growth plans?
DH: “I think that, for one, whoever is the county executive... will have a great input on the future of that.
So, I think that one it’s really important to have someone who listens to the constituency. [Someone] who doesn’t necessarily listen to just a few, but who’s willing to listen to the entire constituency of Cecil County. ... There are certainly constituencies that seem like they have a bigger voice than others, and that’s that’s something that I want to change.
”It’s listening to everyone instead of listening to special interests. You know, I don’t I don’t think that dollars should talk in the politics and the choices that are made for Cecil County residents. So, that’s that’s a big concern. Right now, that’s something that we’ve seen a lot of, unfortunately, is that big money plays more of a role in in the future of our county than it should. We’ve got just over 100,000 residents and their voices should be heard evenly. ... I mean, we’re all Cecil County residents. So I just, you know, I’m tired of feeling like certain people are disenfranchised from having a voice in Cecil County.
CW: What is a Trump Republican? How does one ensure that leadership in Cecil County is for all residents across the political spectrum?
DH: “Sure. Well, first of all, yeah, this whole Trump republican thing is hilarious ... there are candidates in this race calling themselves “Trump Republican” because the polling says that that’s the way to go. Whereas, they’ve never been pro-Trump. In fact, they’ve been against our president and lobby to have him impeached. So, that is interesting to me the wearing that Trump-Republican flag.
”So when it comes to what is a Trump republican? ... By the way, I’m endorsed by Trump. I know that’s been questioned too, but I am endorsed by Trump. That’s another way that a politician can kind of get around things is you can say “Trump Republican,” but you can’t say “endorsed by” unless you’re endorsed. If you say that [your] endorsed by someone — especially the president and he doesn’t endorse you — you’re going to get a cease and desist.
”I challenged my opponent to say that he is endorsed by President Trump.
So anyway, I think I back to your question, as far as how do you ensure that a Trump republican represents everyone in Cecil?
I think that is absolutely part of what Trump does whether people feel that he doesn’t talk nice sometimes and things like that — and that part I don’t agree with. I don’t think that you should be mean.
”But our president has, in essence supported every group. We’ve seen, before COVID-19, the unemployment rates go down for blacks, Hispanics, women, veterans — every group that you can think of, every minority that you can think of.
”So I think that even though there’s a lot of rhetoric out there, there’s a lot of misinformation out there and it’s on both sides. I think it’s really about just trying to do the best for everyone and that’s what I want to do.”
CW: County wealth has been described to have negative impact on residents, do you agree? How should taxpayers feel growth in the county?
DH: “Yeah, I think that, once again, statistics and information can be looked at and used in so many different ways.
”We can say county wealth going up is a good thing, but we always have to look at why, how and those things. ... It’s it’s my goal to support small businesses and to grow our county in a reasonable a concerted effort that doesn’t take away from Cecil County and the community aspect of Cecil.
”We throw up a bunch of warehouses throughout the county — we may have more for the moment, but what does it cost us at what cost? There’s a litany of things that that you could talk about there: You could talk about the implications with infrastructure, the fact that the tractor trailers are going to do damage on the roads, and so many millions and millions of dollars of upkeep will have to be done there.
”You can talk about the implications of bringing low paying jobs that are part-time jobs to Cecil County, rather than quality jobs that we want our children to have. You can talk about bringing crime in because — again, these are low paying jobs — we’re bringing a lot of people from outside of the county to work in these warehouses. So there’s there’s a lot of aspects to it.
”I can’t say it’s bad to have more growth or be higher on the list, if you will, but you have to get back to the where, how, why all those questions we learned in elementary school.”
CW: In a previous forum, candidates listed public safety and education in their top two priorities. How has COVID-19 highlighted areas of improvement? What safeguards will you put in place moving forward, if you are elected?
DH: “The reality is those two items are still the top of the list.
”This is something that that I’ve talked about recently: We’re not necessarily allocating funding for the right things. I love really nice parks; I have a son and two dogs. I love building nice parks; I’m a former teacher. I love to have a very nice library. I go to the Perryville library.
But the question is: Why aren’t we allocating more funds towards the opioid epidemic and public safety? Because we have a problem.
”We can’t just bury our heads in the sand and say we don’t have a problem. Now, the same thing comes into play with COVID. We’ve got COVID-19, we’ve got over 4,000 people unemployed and businesses shut down. They’re feeling it, and we’re going to feel it as as a county. We can’t stick our head in the sand and say everything’s fine or say that we have a plan, but not actually cut back on our spending.
”We have to tighten our belts. I’m at home and, I’m not seeing the income that I’m used to and I have to tighten my belt. It’s not fair of my government to ask me to pay more taxes, and keep just going on as business as usual.”
CW: Any other final thoughts?
DH: “It’s really important to point out that no one leader has all the answers. I think that it’s important to put the right people in the right positions.
As a leader, you surround yourself with people of integrity, and who are willing to speak up and and challenge them. I think certain politicians confuse their role as public servant with the role and rights of like, sovereign ruler.
What what we’re seeing ... with some of the outspoken people on Facebook for example, we’re seeing that people just want someone who will serve them. That’s the bottom line. They want someone who will listen to them, and serve them not, you know think that they have all the answers.”
Katie Tabeling contributed to this article.