County Ex­ec­u­tive can­di­dates pro­vide an­swers for up­com­ing elec­tion

County Ex­ec­u­tive Can­di­date Jeff Kase County Ex­ec­u­tive Can­di­date Danielle Horn­berger

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - News from the Fields, Farms and be­yond By JA­COB TOOK jtook@ches­pub.com By JA­COB TOOK jtook@ches­pub.com

Edi­tor’s note: The Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic can­di­dates for Ce­cil County ex­ec­u­tive were both in­ter­viewed the week of Sept 1418. What fol­lows are their re­sponses to ques­tions put to them by the Ce­cil Whig dur­ing in-per­son in­ter­views. Th­ese in­ter­views are be­ing of­fered to vot­ers at this time due to the na­ture of the 2020 elec­tion cy­cle and the op­por­tu­nity for vot­ers to cast their bal­lots by mail prior to the Nov. 3 elec­tion.

Ce­cil Whig: Do you think that Mary­land’s pol­icy re­sponse to the COVID-19 pan­demic is right for Ce­cil County?

Jeff Kase (Demo­cratic can­di­date for Ce­cil County Ex­ec­u­tive): It seems to be work­ing. I’m not a sci­en­tist, so I’m go­ing to rely on the sci­en­tists to call the shots, and it ap­pears that Gov­er­nor Ho­gan is fol­low­ing the pro­to­cols that are sug­gested to him by the ex­perts in vi­ral pan­demics. I think it’s un­for­tu­nate, it’s re­ally dec­i­mat­ing our small busi­nesses and mak­ing

Edi­tor’s note: The Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic can­di­dates for Ce­cil County ex­ec­u­tive were both in­ter­viewed the week of Sept 14-18. What fol­lows are their re­sponses to ques­tions put to them by the Ce­cil Whig dur­ing in-per­son in­ter­views. Th­ese in­ter­views are be­ing of­fered to vot­ers at this time due to the na­ture of the 2020 elec­tion cy­cle and the op­por­tu­nity for vot­ers to cast their bal­lots by mail prior to the Nov. 3 elec­tion.

Ce­cil Whig: Do you think that Mary­land’s pol­icy re­sponse to the COVID-19 pan­demic is right for Ce­cil County?

Danielle Horn­berger (Repub­li­can can­di­date for Ce­cil County Ex­ec­u­tive): I think that Mary­land, as you know, has a broad ex­panse of a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent coun­ties with dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions and needs and so forth. As we know, Ce­cil County is much more ru­ral. We don’t have peo­ple who are liv­ing on top of each other, we don’t have as much pub­lic trans­porta­tion, we just don’t have some of the sce­nar­ios and sit­u­a­tions — we don’t have as much travel that you see in the mid­dle of the state, or even, we’re see­ing now an uptick in Ocean City, in Wi­comico and Worces­ter county where Ocean City is.

it re­ally dif­fi­cult for our teach­ers and our stu­dents in schools. And it’s throw­ing a lot of ob­sta­cles into a lot of peo­ple’s lives that, quite frankly, we’re just not used to. How­ever, we’re in a hope­fully once-in-a-life­time pan­demic, and the pro­to­cols are chang­ing as more in­for­ma­tion is get­ting re­vealed, and more re­search is be­ing done. So I don’t think any­body, be it Mary­land or any other state is do­ing a per­fect job, but I don’t think a per­fect job can be done.

CW: How have your meet­ings and con­ver­sa­tions with lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers in­formed your ideas about how to bring or shape eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in Ce­cil County?

JK: I am meet­ing with the Ce­cil busi­ness lead­ers next week. I’ve spo­ken to County Ex­ec­u­tive [Alan] McCarthy. As a cit­i­zen of Ce­cil County, watch­ing what he’s done over the last four years, I liked a lot of what he’s done with the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and the route 40 en­ter­prise area and I would con­tinue along that same path as far as court­ing busi­nesses. I’d like to court some more high tech busi­nesses, pro­vide some more tech­ni­cal jobs. I think there is a place for ware­houses and those types of busi­nesses but I think we can court some more in­trigu­ing busi­nesses to come to the county. We’re sit­ting smack dab in be­tween the Bal­ti­more/ D.C. metro area and Philadel­phia. We’ve got I-95 run­ning right through our county, and I think we could make Ce­cil County a re­ally ap­peal­ing place to to bring busi­ness into.

CW: Is that some­thing you hope to push in your meet­ings next week? What do you hope to get out of those?

JK: I don’t know that I’d say push. I’m go­ing to rely a lot on in­put from the Ce­cil busi­ness lead­ers. They’ve been busi­ness lead­ers. I’ve worked in the pri­vate sec­tor as an en­gi­neer for 33 years. And so I’m go­ing to rely on the peo­ple that have been on the ground and have been do­ing the work and take their ad­vice and their opin­ion. But as much as I can, I will be en­cour­ag­ing, push­ing that kind of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. The fis­cal health of the county is very im­por­tant across the en­tire spec­trum of the county, as far as qual­ity of life goes.

CW: In a re­cent county coun­cil meet­ing, they stated that the county may lose as much as $12 mil­lion in in­come tax re­ceipts. How would you plan to ac­com­mo­date a bud­get hit that size?

JK: It’s prob­a­bly the worst time pos­si­ble to take a new job as the county ex­ec­u­tive. The cur­rent bud­get sits at slightly over $330 mil­lion. If we can keep 10 per­cent of our op­er­at­ing bud­get and rainy day fund, we can keep our bond rat­ing up. And that’s some­thing I’m re­ally go­ing to strive for. I don’t see any need to raise taxes. How­ever, I do feel — it sounds good, and I think ev­ery­one agrees that cut­ting taxes would be great, but I think in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion that we’re in, es­pe­cially with the $12 mil­lion hit to the bud­get, that it would be highly ir­re­spon­si­ble to cut taxes right now. We would re­ally burn through our rainy day fund in short or­der — I pre­dict in a year and a half or less. And as such, then we’ll lose our bond rat­ing. And when we lose our bond rat­ing, then the county has a harder time procur­ing loans, that makes get­ting grants harder. All around it’s just the down­ward spi­ral. What we have play­ing in our fa­vor, go­ing back to some of the busi­nesses and en­ter­prises that County Ex­ec­u­tive McCarthy has brought into the county, is a lot of their deals are com­ing to an end, and they’re go­ing to have to start pay­ing more taxes. So ac­count­ing will ac­tu­ally be see­ing some more rev­enue on that front. I think we can use that to ride out this down­turn that, quite frankly, is a di­rect re­sult of the pan­demic. It’s no­body’s fault. It’s a hor­ri­ble, hor­ri­ble thing that’s hap­pened. But I think we can get through it. I think we can get through it with­out de­plet­ing our rainy day fund. And I think, with my plan, we can keep our bond rat­ing up to a level that will work well for the county.

CW: Do you have ideas about where you would want to take money now that’s be­ing cur­rently dis­trib­uted in a way that you would say is un­even?

JK: I have not looked at the bud­get, and I’ve not mi­cro­man­aged the bud­get to that level. There are heads of de­part­ments that handle a lot of that. I’m sure we could re­spon­si­bly find ar­eas in the bud­get that we can be more ef­fi­cient in, in how we run the gov­ern­ment and how that bud­get is ap­plied. I can guar­an­tee you that the po­lice­men, the fire­men, and the schools will not see detri­men­tal bud­get ac­tions what­so­ever.

CW: In light of na­tional demon­stra­tions against racism and bru­tal­ity in polic­ing, what do you think about groups in Ce­cil County call­ing for po­lice re­forms?

JK: I think the way they’re go­ing about it seems to be peace­ful and rea­son­able. The mes­sage that I’ve got­ten from some of th­ese groups is that they want re­form, but the re­form they want is tak­ing a lot of the bur­den off of the po­lice of­fi­cers, be­cause they’re not specif­i­cally trained to handle sit­u­a­tions that so­cial ser­vices can handle — sui­cide calls, men­tal health is­sues, things like that. And if we can ad­dress those is­sues in our so­ci­ety with trained pro­fes­sion­als, we’re go­ing to be uti­liz­ing the money we have in a more ef­fi­cient man­ner, and it’s go­ing to take a bur­den off of the po­lice force. And the cit­i­zens will be get­ting bet­ter ser­vices, be­cause they’ll be get­ting ad­dressed by pro­fes­sion­als that are used to han­dling the sit­u­a­tions that are aris­ing.

CW: One thing th­ese groups are call­ing for is to ban the use of choke­holds in the Elkton Po­lice Depart­ment. Another thing that they’re push­ing for is to have a voice in the se­lec­tion of the next po­lice chief in Elkton. To what de­gree would you sup­port ei­ther of those?

JK: I un­der­stand both of those de­mands, and I would work with the cur­rent po­lice of­fi­cers, their union and their chief for the ban of choke­holds. I know that you have to walk a tightrope be­cause if a po­lice of­fi­cer is in a life threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion, and their life is truly threat­ened, I don’t want to pun­ish them for us­ing what­ever means is pos­si­ble to save their life. As such, I’d like to find a mid­dle ground where we could pos­si­bly have it writ­ten in the op­er­at­ing man­u­als of the po­lice of­fi­cers that choke­holds are not to be used. It’s dif­fi­cult to say, ‘ex­cept as a last re­sort,’ be­cause we’re all hu­man be­ings and if some­body uses it, if an of­fi­cer uses it in an in­ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner, who’s to say if it was a last re­sort or not? We get into a he said, she said sit­u­a­tion. So I would re­ally have to work with the po­lice chief and the po­lice union to see if we can find a mid­dle ground on that. I don’t see any rea­son why the cit­i­zens shouldn’t at least have a voice in se­lect­ing a po­lice chief. I think that de­ci­sion should re­main within the po­lice force, and what­ever means are in place to se­lect that po­lice chief, be­cause they’re se­lect­ing re­ally a co­worker that’s go­ing to be their boss, and so they prob­a­bly have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of who the best can­di­date is. But I see no harm in hav­ing them also hear the voice of the cit­i­zens and get­ting some in­put from them.

CW: Do you think pol­i­tics have be­come too par­ti­san?

JK: Ab­so­lutely. At the fed­eral level, at the na­tional level, they sure have, and there’s a push, there’s seg­ments of our so­ci­ety that are try­ing to push that all the way down to the lo­cal level, but I don’t be­lieve that par­ti­san pol­i­tics has any place at the county level. We’re all neigh­bors, we’re friends, we see each other in the stores, we work with each other. I don’t care if you have an R or D af­ter your name, or an I, or a G. When I get elected, I’ll work with you on the county coun­cil. I’m go­ing to ig­nore what­ever let­ter is be­hind your name, and I would hope that those serv­ing on the county coun­cil and else­where in the lo­cal gov­ern­ment would ig­nore that as well and do what’s best for the cit­i­zens of Ce­cil County. And to bring par­ti­san pol­i­tics into how this county is run is just — it’s fool­hardy, and it re­ally has no busi­ness at this level. We should be able to work to­gether. Quite frankly, a lot of the divide that we see in the me­dia are is­sues that can­not be ad­dressed at the county level any­how. And so why fall onto that band­wagon and cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where we’re not go­ing to be able to ac­com­plish any­thing be­cause we’re bick­er­ing over stuff that we have no con­trol over. I would like to get rid of that at­ti­tude of us ver­sus them at the county level. Like I said — we’re neigh­bors, we’re friends, we see each other in the store, we work to­gether.

CW: Is there some­thing that you think most Repub­li­cans or con­ser­va­tives do agree with or be­lieve in that you are in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about or reach­ing across the aisle to work on?

JK: Again, a lot of that a lot of what’s hap­pen­ing at the na­tional level won’t even be doesn’t even get ad­dressed at the lo­cal level. Law, the bud­get is­sues, and things like that — yeah, I’ll reach across the aisle and I’ll work with the Repub­li­cans and any other mem­bers of the county coun­cil that aren’t in the Demo­cratic Party. I’ll work with them so that we can put the best plan for­ward for Ce­cil County.

CW: Do you have any­thing you would want to fol­low up on from what we’ve been say­ing, or any fi­nal thoughts?

JK: Ac­tu­ally be­fore my fi­nal thoughts, I would like to ad­dress the qual­ity of life is­sues that we’re fac­ing in this county. And one of the big ones is the opi­oid cri­sis. I heard my op­po­nent say that she would ad­dress that by work­ing to get bet­ter treat­ment in the pris­ons. Quite frankly, that’s clos­ing the gate af­ter the horses have al­ready left. The prob­lem needs to be ad­dressed far be­fore it reaches the point where the ad­dict is in prison. I want to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple. I want to cre­ate jobs. I want em­ploy­ment, bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion and school­ing, af­ter school pro­grams, recre­ational pro­grams, and op­por­tu­ni­ties and give peo­ple hope so that they don’t turn to that life as a means of try­ing to self-med­i­cate through life. Of course, I’m com­ing in where the horse has al­ready left the gate, so I also will fo­cus on get­ting bet­ter treat­ment and work­ing with the so­cial ser­vices and House of Hope and other en­ti­ties to fa­cil­i­tate a bet­ter and more suc­cess­ful means of treat­ment, where once they step away from treat­ment and aren’t sit­ting face to face with the coun­selor, they don’t go back to their old ways, that they have tools avail­able to them to move for­ward in life and to be able to see how much more they will be able to get out of life once they’ve put their ad­dic­tion be­hind them.

As far as be­tween now and Novem­ber 3. You’re gonna see, you’re gonna see my cam­paign ramp­ing up, you’re gonna see more of a pres­ence from me. I don’t want to give away a whole lot of strate­gic in­for­ma­tion, but you’re gonna hear a lot more from me be­tween now and Novem­ber 3. Hope­fully not so much that you get tired of hear­ing from me. I very much ap­pre­ci­ate you giv­ing me the op­por­tu­nity to come down here and talk with you. I look for­ward to serv­ing the county and to im­prove in what’s al­ready a great county. I love Ce­cil County. I love ev­ery­thing about it from the bay to the farms to the nat­u­ral re­source ar­eas. Per­ryville, Ris­ing Sun, North East, Ch­e­sa­peake City, Elkton — they’re all great lit­tle towns. They’re the lit­tle towns that, when you’re on va­ca­tion and trav­el­ing, you walk through and you come back home and say, ‘I was in such a quaint lit­tle town.’ Ce­cil County has it all, and I look for­ward to im­prov­ing on what Ce­cil County has and ad­dress­ing the ar­eas of Ce­cil County that could use some help.

DANIELLE HORN­BERGER

JEFF KASE

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