Candidates for Cecil County executive and county council fielded rehearsed questions from the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday night, as well as a few impromptu ones from citizens.
However, the debate held at Elkton High School revealed few surprises.
Democratic county executive candidate Pam Howard challenged her opponent, Republican Tari Moore, while defining the role of a county executive, saying, “My opponent has not been able to gain a consensus on the board so far.”
“I think she’ll be an excellent councilperson,” Howard added.
If Moore loses the executive race, she would retain her commissioner seat, which will become a council seat when charter government takes effect Dec. 3.
“It’s not been for lack of trying,” Moore said in response to Howard’s charge that she hasn’t gained consensus on the board.
Moore, along with Commissioner Robert Hodge, has frequently butted heads with their three fellow commissioners, Jim Mullin, Diana Broomell and Michael Dunn.
Howard emphasized her ability to get along with everyone and promised to break the “gridlock” on the board.
Moore outlined four initiatives she’ll take on if she becomes county executive.
She promised to create a business advocate position to create incentives and work with businesses to create jobs in Cecil County, to continue a “war on drugs” through community-wide efforts, to continue protection of property rights and to continue fiscal responsibility in government.
Howard touted her 12 years as county treasurer as a solid background in county finances, budgeting and management. Meanwhile, Moore pointed to her stint as executive director of the county chamber, her leadership role in the 2002 Winter Olympics, owning her own business and several other positions as her training.
First district council candidate Alan McCarthy, a Republican, stressed he has no preconceived notions of government as he seeks public office.
“I want to give back to the community,” he said.
“As a council member, I’d communicate honestly and establish a respectful relationship with the county executive,” McCarthy added.
His opponent, Democrat Pam Bailey, said the role of the council is legislative, and it’s extremely important to keep an open line of communication with the executive.
McCarthy said he would fund the budget by prioritizing necessary services, while Bailey said she favors a zero-based budget, vowing not to raise property taxes.
“I’ll restore responsible government, get utilities in the growth corridor, expand the commercial tax base, retain the rural character of Cecil County and work to curtail expenses, if elected,” said McCarthy.
Bailey vowed to be a “full-time council woman.”
“I’ll make home visits and site visits,” she said.
In the third and final debate of the night, Democratic challenger Jim Crouse faced off against Hodge, an incumbent Republican.
Crouse emphasized his experience in public and private positions he’s held during the past 40 years as vital preparation to be a county council member.
“We can’t continue to talk about what we need to do, we need action,” Crouse said.
Hodge, who has been a private business owner his entire adult life except for the last four years as he served as county commissioner, stressed his experience as well.
“We have a lot of challenges facing us and I’d like to help us meet those challenges,” Hodge said.
Hodge, who served his first two years with a mixed-party board and his last two years with an all-Republican board, stressed how important it is to represent all citizens in Cecil County.
“If we recognize what citizens want, I believe we can get things done,” he said.
Neither candidate would make any immediate changes to the county code. However, Crouse said he’d establish a revenue bond to help businesses create jobs.
“We need mutual trust with our county executive,” Hodge said. “I’ve seen too many commissioners who don’t trust anyone.”
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