Choices put on dis­play

Cham­ber fo­rum high­lights pri­mary races

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CH­ERYL MATTIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— More than 200 peo­ple got a chance to ex­am­ine the po­si­tions of those seek­ing county of­fice on is­sues such as spend­ing, an­i­mal con­trol, crime and more Tues­day night at a can­di­date fo­rum at the Mil­burn Stone Theatre or­ga­nized by the Ce­cil County Cham­ber of Com­merce.

The fo­rum was the most highly pub­li­cized op­por­tu­nity for the pub­lic to hear from the Repub­li­cans seek­ing the county ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion and, per­haps most im­por­tantly, two county coun­cil seats.

No Democrats filed for the coun­cil races, mean­ing the win­ner of the Repub­li­can pri­maries in Dis­trict 1 — largely the area be­low the C&D Canal — and Dis­trict 5 — largely the greater North East area — will be the de facto win­ners of the seats.

At the top of the pri­mary bal­lot will be those seek­ing to re­place out­go­ing Repub­li­can County Ex­ec­u­tive Tari Moore. Repub­li­cans Joe Cara­betta, Greg MacDon­ald, Alan McCarthy and Dan Sch­neck­en­burger will face each other in the April 26 pri­mary, where the win­ner will move on to com­pete against Port De­posit Mayor Wayne Tome, the

NORTH EAST

lone Demo­cratic can­di­date for county ex­ec­u­tive, in the Nov. 8 general elec­tion.

First, how­ever, they sparred on Tues­day night, an­swer­ing ques­tions from a panel com­prised of cham­ber mem­bers Bob Pals­grove, Kathy Kunda and Mike Ratch­ford.

Cara­betta, who re­cently re­tired af­ter 34 years at Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground, de­scribed him­self as a hard worker who is only loyal to the tax­payer.

He wants to phase-out the per­sonal prop­erty tax on busi­ness, which he thinks will pro­mote busi­ness growth. Cara­betta fa­vors ex­pand­ing county sewer ser­vice only to res­i­dents and busi­nesses who want it and he wants the users to pay for it, not all tax­pay­ers. He also thinks the county should cre­ate a one-stop shop for the pub­lic seek­ing per­mits.

“I’m more ex­pe­ri­enced in An­napo­lis than the other can­di­dates be­cause I served three terms on the Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and made many trips to see law­mak­ers,” he said. “I know a lot of peo­ple at all lev­els of gov­ern­ment and can work well with them, if elected.”

He said that while he sup­ports Ce­cil Col­lege, he doesn’t not be­liev­ing in rais­ing taxes to fund new

ser­vices. Cara­betta added that he would build a bud­get from the ground up and not raise taxes.

County Coun­cil Vice Pres­i­dent Alan McCarthy, who is com­plet­ing his first term in of­fice and for­go­ing a chance to run for re- elec­tion by seek­ing the county ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion, de­scribed him­self as a “com­mon sense” can­di­date who un­der­stands the is­sues and is most qual­i­fied.

McCarthy, who has been a strong ad­vo­cate to ex­tend in­fra­struc­ture to at­tract busi­ness growth, said he would make the nec­es­sary in­vest­ments in the growth area. He also en­vi­sions im­prove­ment of the county’s busi­ness friend­li­ness by stream­lin­ing ser­vices, im­prov­ing cus­tomer ser­vice and au­dit­ing the sys­tem. He said his bud­get style would be to de­ter­mine rev­enues for the year, then as­sign fund­ing based on pri­or­i­ties.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion on the im­por­tance of the role of Ce­cil Col­lege, McCarthy, who has served eight years on the Ce­cil Col­lege Foun­da­tion as a fi­nan­cial ad­viser, he said he would con­tinue his sup­port.

“This is our fu­ture,” he said.

A ques­tion aimed at find­ing out how well each can­di­date can work with other of­fi­cials to get things done prompted McCarthy to give three ex­am­ples: work­ing with mul­ti­ple lev­els of

gov­ern­ment to bring wa­ter ser­vice to the com­mu­ni­ties af­fected by the Pearce Creek dredge site, work­ing with the town of Elk­ton to bring pub­lic sewer ser­vice to the YMCA and work­ing with the town of North East to bring nat­u­ral gas to town res­i­dents and busi­nesses.

Coun­cil­man Dan Sch­neck­en­burger, who is mid­way through his first four- year term, said that, if elected county ex­ec­u­tive, he would re­or­ga­nize county staff from the top down to gain ef­fi­ciency.

He dis­agreed with Cara­betta on fund­ing for sewer ex­pan­sion in the growth cor­ri­dor.

“We ab­so­lutely must use tax­payer’s money to pay for this,” he said.

Sch­neck­en­burger, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Ce­cil County Cham­ber of Com­merce, said the county tries to be busi­ness- friendly but needs to im­prove.

When asked about his abil­ity to work with oth­ers, Sch­neck­en­burger pointed to his co­or­di­na­tion of a meet­ing on Bain­bridge with Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and Bain­bridge Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion mem­bers at the Don­ald­son Brown Cen­ter, which he said got ac­tion within three days from the Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment.

He touted his ex­pe­ri­ence, along with his coun­cil col­leagues, at cutting the county ex­ec­u­tive’s bud­get last year as proof it

can be done.

Greg MacDon­ald, a for­mer W.L. Gore em­ployee for 18 years, strug­gled with nerves Tues­day night in try­ing to get his views known.

“I’m ner­vous up here and it shows,” he told the au­di­ence, adding, “But, please speak with me. I do have a vision and I have the drive.”

MacDon­ald said he’s been long in­ter­ested in state and na­tional pol­i­tics, but only in re­cent years be­came in­ter­ested in lo­cal pol­i­tics.

“I would draw the line on mak­ing tax­pay­ers pay for in­fra­struc­ture,” he said dur­ing the dis­cus­sion of how to ex­pand in­fra­struc­ture on Route 40.

MacDon­ald agrees with the other can­di­dates who say per­mit poli­cies and pro­ce­dures need to be made eas­ier and faster for the pub­lic.

“I think the col­lege is valu­able and we should sup­port it as much as pos­si­ble with­out rais­ing taxes,” he said.

Be­cause he has not held an elected of­fice, MacDon­ald cited his work ex­pe­ri­ence at Gore as teach­ing him how to work in col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­ers to get a project done. Three de­bate for

coun­cil While Tom Cole, a can­di­date Dis­trict 1 coun­cil, was not able to at­tend Tues­day night due to a health is­sue, his op­po­nent Bob Mef­fley par­tic­i­pated

along with Dis­trict 5 can­di­dates Jackie Gre­gory and Paul Tra­pani. Coun­cil mem­bers are elected at­large, but must live in one of the five dis­tricts up for elec­tion. This year’s win­ners will re­place out­go­ing Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Robert Hodge and McCarthy.

None of the coun­cil can­di­dates have held elected of­fice, but Tra­pani did serve two years on an ap­pointed cit­i­zen bud­get ad­vi­sor y panel for the county gov­ern­ment.

Mef­fley has owned H&B Plumb­ing for 37 years, while Tra­pani owns the Boat Ware­house and Sun­set Cafe and Gre­gory spent 17 years teach­ing school and an­other seven years as a grass­roots po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist.

Mef­fley said he would trim any re­dun­dan­cies of county gov­ern­ment ser­vices to spend tax dol­lars more wisely, while Gre­gory be­lieves the use of more tech­nol­ogy would re­sult in ef­fi­cien­cies. Tra­pani thinks all county de­part­ments could be trimmed.

Mef­fley and Tra­pani both said they sup­port County Ex­ec­u­tive Tari Moore’s de­ci­sion to take over an­i­mal con­trol, but Gre­gory said she would pre­fer a pri­vate con­trac­tor op­er­a­tion, say­ing, “the county’s be­tween a rock and a hard place on this.”

Mef­fley and Tra­pani would for­mu­late a bud­get af­ter speak­ing with depart­ment heads and look­ing for

fat, but Gre­gory said her plan would be to de­sign a bud­get that sup­ports the strate­gic plan, while sep­a­rat­ing “needs from wants” and us­ing more tech­nol­ogy.

All of the can­di­dates also agreed that it’s best for the coun­cil to work as one col­lab­o­ra­tive unit to sup­port en­tire county, not in­di­vid­ual coun­cil dis­tricts.

When asked what the county should do to help at­tract new em­ploy­ers, each can­di­date dif­fered slightly.

Gre­gory said that “it’s time to in­stall in­fra­struc­ture now and stop talk­ing about it,”

On the other hand, Mef­fley said the county needs to lower busi­ness fees and do a bet­ter job mar­ket­ing it­self.

Mean­while Tra­pani wants to stream­line the per­mit process, lower busi­ness fees and taxes, and main­tain good schools to at­tract busi­ness growth.

As the can­di­dates sum­ma­rized their qual­i­fi­ca­tions for coun­cil, Gre­gory took a fi­nal swing at Tra­pani, her op­po­nent in Dis­trict 5.

“You don’t have to be a ma­rina owner to know which way the wind is blow­ing,” Gre­gory said as she crit­i­cized Tra­pani’s choice of for­mer County Com­mis­sioner Jim Mullin as his cam­paign trea­surer, not­ing Mullin’s po­si­tion in fa­vor of plan­ning maps that Gre­gory be­lieves took away prop­erty rights.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTOS BY JES­SICA IANNETTA

Repub­li­can Ce­cil County Ex­ec­u­tive can­di­dates Greg MacDon­ald (top left, clock­wise), Joe Cara­betta, Alan McCarthy and Dan Sch­neck­en­burger fielded ques­tions dur­ing a cham­ber of com­merce fo­rum Tues­day night.

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