Friday, Sept 18–Pocomoke Mayor Eyes Mathias, Conway Seats

BERLIN – Pocomoke Mayor and Worcester County Sheriff’s Officer Mike McDermott this week officially announced he would seek one of two House of Delegates District 38B seats in 2010.

McDermott, a Republican and two-term mayor of Pocomoke, this week officially threw his hat in the ring for the House of Delegates seats in District 38B, which encompasses much of the lower shore including all of Worcester and Somerset Counties as well as portion of Wicomico County. Delegates Jim Mathias and Norm Conway, both Democrats, currently represent the district in Annapolis.

While McDermott won’t formally announce his candidacy for a District 38B seat until an old-fashioned Eastern Shore-style barbeque in Snow Hill on Oct. 3, his press release this week is the first salvo in what should be a lively year in local politics on every level. In August, Senator Lowell Stoltzfus (R-38) announced he would not seek re-election in 2010 after serving the Lower Shore for 19 years, setting in motion a likely chain of events that could see Mathias and Ocean City hotelier Michael James vying for the vacant Senate seat.

Should that occur, Mathias’ bid for the Senate seat could create an opening for a new challenger or challengers in the District 38B Delegate race. While Conway has shown no inclination to make a move for the Senate seat, given his position of leadership in a House subcommittee, Mathias has said he is at least exploring the possibility, and James, who lost to Mathias by a narrow margin in 2006, is actively campaigning for some position in Annapolis although he hasn’t shown his cards yet either.

“The anticipated announcement that Michael James will face off against Jim Mathias for Senator Lowell Stoltzfus’ seat means that there will be an open delegate seat,” said McDermott this week. “I believe that there is a real need in Annapolis for a common sense, Eastern Shore voice.”

McDermott said his pragmatic, common sense approach to politics is just what the shore and the rest of the state needs during a time of turmoil in the state capital.

“Each year, we sacrifice more freedom, pay more taxes and endure more governmental control over our daily lives,” he said. “I am running for state delegate because I believe we deserve better, and I believe Maryland deserves better.”

Prior to becoming mayor of Pocomoke, McDermott managed his family’s poultry farm in Willards. He has been a long-time officer in the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department and is currently commander of its investigative division. He also served for a time as chief of police in Snow Hill.

McDermott began his nascent political career in Pocomoke where he witnessed partisan politics block common sense ideas, resulting in higher taxes and misplaced priorities.

“Frankly, our community lacked planning and vision for a better tomorrow,” he said. “In 2004, my friends and family encouraged me to get involved, so I ran for mayor.”

In just five years, McDermott has overseen a reduction in corporate and residential taxes in Pocomoke, increased the number of jobs and reduced crime, while improving city services. In June, Pocomoke was named an “All America City” award finalist. He credited his ability to pull people together for the turnaround.

“I am most proud that all of this was done with the support of the entire community, including Republicans, Independents and Democrats,” he said. “I would now like to bring this common sense approach to Annapolis.”

McDermott’s announcement kicks off what should be a lively year on the political front with several state and local positions up for grabs. Candidates can formally file on Jan. 2, 2010 with primaries set for September 2010 and the general election set for November 2010.

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