Sheriff and challenger square off
Asbury forum for some local races touches on Dominion, safety, more
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.
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.