Sher­iff and chal­lenger square off

As­bury fo­rum for some lo­cal races touches on Do­min­ion, safety, more

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By DANDAN ZOU dzou@somd­news.com

Can­di­dates for state and lo­cal of­fices met with vot­ers Tues­day evening at a fo­rum at As­bury Solomons Re­tire­ment Com­mu­nity, an­swer­ing ques­tions on Do­min­ion, school safety and Supreme Court Jus­tice nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh.

Sher­iff Mike Evans (R) and his chal­lenger Lt. Michael Hawkins (D) an­swered ques­tions mostly on Do­min­ion Cove Point and its ar­range­ment with the county for hir­ing deputies.

Lili Shee­line, a vo­cal critic of Do­min­ion, said many res­i­dents are un­happy with the ar­range­ment

Do­min­ion made with the county and some peo­ple who have spo­ken out against Do­min­ion have been ha­rassed in the past.

Evans said the agree­ment was made be­tween county com­mis­sion­ers and the nat­u­ral gas com­pany. Al­though their salaries are paid by Do­min­ion, the 11 deputies re­port to the sher­iff.

“I think it works well. We all ben­e­fit from it,” the sher­iff said, not­ing the deputies some­times have time to do things in the county out­side of their du­ties at Do­min­ion.

Evans com­pared the ar­range­ment with Do­min­ion to the one the county has with Ch­e­sa­peake Beach and North Beach.

The deputies “don’t wear two badges,” he said. “The [Beach Pa­trol deputies] don’t work for the may­ors. They work for the cit­i­zens of the towns.”

Re­gard­ing Shee­line’s ha­rass­ment com­plaint, Evans said he would like to hear about it.

“If you have a com­plaint from an in­di­vid­ual stop or some­one not do­ing their job right, I need to hear about it,” he said.

“I mean, we are not per­fect. We do make mis­takes. Mis­takes have been made, I’m sure. But we try to cor­rect those.”

Hawkins, a re­tired Mary­land State Po­lice lieu­tenant, said he would like to “re-eval­u­ate the whole thing” if elected. He said un­der his watch, Do­min­ion will not re­ceive spe­cial treat­ment.

“Do­min­ion makes a lot of money,” he said. “They can hire their own peo­ple and train them.”

The two can­di­dates were also asked what they would do to en­sure school safety other than hav­ing armed deputies at schools.

“The key part is we are adding more deputies to the school,” Evans said. Right now, he said eight deputies are as­signed to lo­cal schools.

Hawkins said he would like to see po­lice of­fi­cers at all the schools all the way down to ele­men­tary schools. He also thinks the board of ed­u­ca­tion should man­date cri­sis and ac­tive shooter train­ings for teach­ers at least once a year.

“We don’t want [what hap­pened at] Great Mills High School in this county,” he said, re­fer­ring to the March 20 shoot­ing at the St. Mary’s County school that left two teenagers dead, in­clud­ing the shooter, and one in­jured.

Run­ning for a fifth term, Evans touted his achieve­ment by stress­ing Calvert is the safest county in the state and the pop­u­la­tion at the lo­cal de­ten­tion cen­ter is de­creas­ing. He used two re­cent rob­beries that closed with ar­rests within five days as an ex­am­ple of lo­cal law en­force­ment ef­fec­tive­ness un­der his watch.

Hawkins, how­ever, noted that 9,000 Calvert res­i­dents voted for a new sher­iff in June. In the June pri­mary, Evans’ GOP chal­lengers Craig Kon­tra and Kin­sey Weems got 4,364 votes from Repub­li­can vot­ers and Hawkins re­ceived 4,575 votes from Demo­cratic vot­ers. Evans won the Repub­li­can pri­mary with 4,684 votes.

“It gives you a fresh start. It gives you a dif­fer­ent view,” Hawkins said. “It gives you a way to see things maybe through a dif­fer­ent light.”

In the state Se­nate race for District 29, Demo­crat Thomas Brewer spoke while his op­po­nent Jack Bai­ley (R) missed the fo­rum due to other en­gage­ments.

Brewer was asked to talk about his thoughts on Brett Ka­vanaugh, the Supreme Court nom­i­nee fac­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault.

“I was dis­gusted by what I read from the tweet from the Calvert com­mis­sioner pres­i­dent,” he said, re­ceiv­ing ap­plause from some sit­ting in the au­di­ence.

The con­tro­ver­sial tweet came from Com­mis­sioner Evan Slaugh­en­houpt (R) last week. It said “I as­saulted a young lady; 1st to 4th grade birth­day gaunt­let in school. Child­hood friend of my af­fec­tion had a birth­day had to run the aisles. As did oth­ers, I smacked her on her but­tocks. I feel so dis­qual­i­fied for any po­si­tion to­day. NOT! Get over it peo­ple. Con­firm Ka­vanaugh.”

“I was raised by a strong woman. My mom is the bread­win­ner in my fam­ily,” Brewer said at the fo­rum. “She has raised me to be­lieve that any­body that is a mi­nor­ity or a pos­si­ble vic­tim of op­pres­sion should be de­fended. And I feel that at least [at] the bare min­i­mum, the po­ten­tial vic­tims have their right to be heard.”

Del. Ger­ald W. “Jerry” Clark (R-Calvert, St. Mary’s) and his chal­lenger Ju­lia Ni­chols (D) were asked what they can do to im­prove Solomons Is­land where busi­nesses have closed and feral cats are roam­ing and weeds are over­grow­ing in some parts.

When an­swer­ing the ques­tion, Clark got into a back-and­forth ar­gu­ment with some­one in the au­di­ence over his at­ti­tudes to­ward work­ers.

A busi­ness­man him­self, Clark blamed state reg­u­la­tions on small busi­nesses for the de­cline of mom-n-pop shops, in­clud­ing high taxes, high wages and high paid sick leave im­posed by the Demo­cratic state leg­is­la­ture, he said.

“Sir, you sound like you have a very anti-worker agenda. Is that the case?” a man from the au­di­ence asked.

“We don’t have an anti-worker agenda,” Clark re­sponded, not­ing he had at one point em­ployed 50 work­ers with a $3 mil­lion pay­roll. “We have an agenda where we want peo­ple to work. But we have to be re­al­is­tic. And you have to make money.”

Ni­chols, on the other hand, said restor­ing Solomons can stem from ed­u­ca­tion and work­ing to­gether.

“On a state level, we need to be work­ing to­gether to get more recog­ni­tion and fund­ing down here so we can help,” she said.

She also noted that her plat­form is “build­ing bridges.”

The phrase, she said, means more than ad­dress­ing the in­fra­struc­ture is­sue.

She wants to work to­gether to find so­lu­tions, as she has seen too much di­vi­sion within gov­ern­ment.

In other races, in­cum­bent Mar­garet Phipps (D) and Mark Lynch (R) will face each other for the reg­is­ter of wills po­si­tion.

Five can­di­dates are run­ning for three seats on the or­phans’ court. In­cum­bent judges Les­lie Downs (R), Ted LeBlanc (R) and Thomas Pe­la­gatti (D) will face chal­lengers Derek Sabedra (R) and Tammy Fowler (D). Fowler did not at­tend Tues­day’s fo­rum.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY DANDAN ZOU

Above left, Lt. Michael Hawkins (D), left, an­swers a ques­tion while Sher­iff Mike Evans (R) lis­tens Tues­day night dur­ing a fo­rum at As­bury Solomons Re­tire­ment Com­mu­nity. Above cen­ter, Ju­lia Ni­chols (D), left, and Del. Ger­ald W. “Jerry” Clark (R-Calvert, St. Mary’s) lis­ten to a ques­tion. Above right, Len Zuza asks a ques­tion while oth­ers lis­ten.

Above left, Derek Sabedra (R), left, Les­lie Downs (R), Ted LeBlanc (R) and Thomas Pe­la­gatti (D) sit on a panel dur­ing a can­di­date fo­rum Tues­day evening at As­bury Solomons Re­tire­ment Com­mu­nity. The four can­di­dates, and Tammy Fowler (D) who did not at­tend Tues­day’s fo­rum, are run­ning for three seats on the or­phans’ court. Above cen­ter, in­cum­bent Reg­is­ter of Wills Mar­garet Phipps (D) speaks at the fo­rum. Above right, Mark Lynch (R) speaks. Lynch is run­ning for reg­is­ter of wills, fac­ing Phipps.

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