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 Ewing McDowell, a Rising Sun resident working with the Department of Commerce, began a dairy herd on his family’s farm in 1979. In 2003, he began an agricultural import/export business.
McDowell filed as a Republican candidate in the 2020 in September 2019. This is his first foray in politics since running for House of Delegates in 2006, but lost against then-Del. David Rudolph (D-35).
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?
EWING MCDOWELL: “Well, I don’t. I think, in many ways, the leaders are still acting like commissioners . It should be separated. It should be the county executive as the administrator and the council should be the legislature. It hasn’t gone that well.”
CW: What is your opinion on the county-implemented growth plans?
EM: “The comprehensive plans are good. The main reason they’re so good is they have citizen involvement, and by law, they are to be reviewed every 10 years. Ours It doesn’t look like — unless myself or somebody else’s elected county executive — it’s going to be reviewed.
”The statement was made that it’s a working document. I don’t believe that’s true. I think the methods used for planning change over time, and the Department of Planning has outstanding planners to help the locals decide if they do want to change their plan and how they want to change it.
”I’m very disappointed that it’s not going to happen, because it needs to happen. It needs to be evaluated, whether it’s changed or not — it needs to be evaluated.
”But I like the comprehensive plan the way it’s set up, with a growth corridor and the [Northern Agricultural Residential] and [Southern Agricultural Residential]. I think there’s some things that need to be modified, but other than that it has a sound concept.
”... I think there’s some areas that are considered NAR/SAR that probably shouldn’t. Specifically, the area between Chesapeake city and Elkton should be reevaluated.
CW: What is a Trump Republican? How does one ensure that leadership in Cecil County is for all residents across the political spectrum?
EM: “So I think the county executive needs to be the leader for everyone in the county, and not just a few.
”The president has done many, many good things in reducing government and changing taxes and greatly reducing regulations. That’s something that’s really, really needed in this county. The regulations and the fees that go with those regulations are absolutely ridiculous. So as far as that goes, I support the president’s concept of changing government to a smaller leaner government. ...
”You know, we have to face the fact that we’re very uncertain times. We’re a very divided country, and we really need leadership that’s going to bring people together and not divide them.”
CW: County wealth has been described to have negative impact on residents, do you agree? How should taxpayers feel growth in the county?
EM: “Well, I’d like to see proof that the county’s wealth has gone up. Many of the jobs that have come to the county are not high wealth jobs.
”We teach STEM or STEAM ... and we’re not providing those increased jobs. I am not sure where these numbers come from. I would have to evaluate them, because the vast majority of taxing in the county is through property tax. That does not have a direct relation on what income is...
”County government is there to provide services, three main services: education, safety, and our roads. ... That’s what people expect when they pay their taxes.
”We’ve gotten into so many things that have just exploded our budget, that we need to get back to those three basics. Then let the citizens decide how much, how many of these other services they really need. I think a lot of people don’t need a lot of what’s provided to them.
”That’s why our our spending has gone up so much.
”We’re not Baltimore City, we don’t need a lot of services. We’re not the state of Maryland that provides a lot of other services. We’re a county that should provide those three basic services to its taxpayers.”
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?
EM: “Well, as I said in my answer previously, they are the priority, right? I mean, if you’re going to cut spending in other areas, then those are the areas that need to be focused on — not on the big three, not on public safety education or roads. You know, we have to do those for taxpayers. ...
”There’s a possibility that a lot of people might not even be able to pay their property taxes. A lot of people haven’t worked in the last few months, and they don’t know whether they’re going to be working in the next few months. When the property taxes are due — and there needs to be an open discussion of how county governments going to handle that — are they going to allow people to pay their taxes in different ways at different times, or are they just gonna let people fail?
”And I haven’t heard that there’s been that discussion.”
CW: Any other final thoughts?
EM: “I want to talk about regulations and the fees that go with them.
”In this county, we have developed an entire mass of regulations and permitting processes and fees, that it doesn’t seem like anybody ever has had an input on why are these things the way they are.
”We’re so backwards. You have to go in to the county administration building to file for a permit. You cannot do it online in this county — unless they’ve changed in the last two months, because of the shutdown.
”We live in a tech society, where you should be able to apply for a permit or an inspection in the comfort of your own home. That’s just modern technology needs to go into that. I think there should be a full and complete accounting of all regulations, why they are the way they are.
”I think the citizens should have input on what fees and regulations they have to follow up because I don’t think anybody’s ever asked anybody they just, they’re ridiculous.”
Katie Tabeling contributed to this article.