Voters across Maryland will head to the polls on Tuesday in the gubernatorial primary election. There are several races of importance on the ballot for Worcester County voters to consider. As we do before every election, we offer endorsements.
It’s important to remember endorsements are not predictions. These are our educated and informed recommendations for the positions. We take this process seriously and stand by our endorsements, but we respect our readers’ right to disagree or agree. We offer our recommendations while not trying to necessarily persuade readers to vote in a certain fashion.
Above all, it’s most important for voters to take the time next Tuesday to express their voices. When it was announced the primary election would be held in the heart of the summer and the week before the 4th of July, we worried turnout would be severely low. We remain concerned today, but we wanted to inform and educate voters with primary election previews as well as these endorsements.
While it’s unknown if paltry voter turnout will be a reality at this point, the good news is early voting turnout numbers have been solid. As of Tuesday, with two days remaining, totals had reportedly surpassed Worcester County’s early voting turnout in the last election.
After reviewing the individual races of local importance as well as examining the candidates themselves, we offer the following endorsements in these races.
House of Delegates District 38C: Wayne Hartman is the only candidate with any elected experience, albeit only one term as a municipal councilman in Ocean City.
That perspective and experience makes him the best candidate in a small and inexperienced field seeking the District 38C seat, which is currently held by Delegate Mary Beth Carozza. Instead of seeking a second term, Carozza is challenging Senator Jim Mathias for his District 38 Senate seat.
In our opinion, holding previous elective office is a requirement for a regional district that represents about 40,000 people in the House of Delegates in Annapolis. Carozza was the exception, based on her many years of working in state and federal government, including the Defense Department.
We believe Hartman is the better choice because he brings the best understanding of how government operates as well as budget creation and modification. He’s the most well-rounded candidate when it comes to knowledge of the issues facing the constituency and will not be shy in voicing his opinion on matters at the state level. He does not have direct legislative experience, but his background in government and life experiences will serve him well when compared to his opponents.
Worcester County Commissioner: The only district challenged in the primary election is District 3, which is comprised of West Ocean City and part of Berlin. Sixteen-year incumbent Bud Church gets the nod here.
The County Commissioners have a lot of weighty issues they are tackling these days, including the tax differential issue with the Town of Ocean City, a confusing EDU policy aimed at keeping a check on booming West Ocean City development, staffing school security appropriately and the future of its solid waste department.
A tenured elected official with familiarity in how county government works and years of background on the many ongoing issues is important. These qualities will help lead to informed and reasoned decisions. Church fits the bill and deserves to move on to the general election in November.
Worcester County State’s Attorney: We believe Interim State’s Attorney Bill McDermott should secure a four-year term as the county’s top law enforcement official.
McDermott did an admirable job for seven years as deputy state’s attorney under former State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby before his appointment to a judicial post earlier this year. In the months since assuming the interim state’s attorney title, McDermott has proven to be up to the challenge.
We don’t see a need for a major shakeup in personnel in the prosecutor’s office. McDermott brings a managerial presence that has served him well thus far as well as a background in prosecuting major crimes that’s needed in Worcester County.
If elected, there will be little transition for the State’s Attorney Office, as McDermott will largely keep his team of prosecutors intact and continue moving forward with trying cases. He knows the office’s budget, which he has helped to keep flat or even spending less, and the focus can remain on the prosecution of criminals and seeking justice.
In addition to managing his office, McDermott has proven to be a competent and successful prosecutor on a wide variety of criminal cases. He has prosecuted all kinds of cases in his years in Worcester and is highly regarded for his courtroom abilities. We think McDermott is the right call moving forward.
Worcester County Sheriff: The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office is currently facing numerous challenges, including manpower shortages, morale problems within the rank and file, a need for more school resource officers and secondary employment availability. A fresh perspective is needed at the helm. In addition, an experienced leader with knowledge and awareness of the issues facing the law enforcement agency is critical. We think Mike McDermott is the type for the job.
While Matt Crisafulli organized an excellent campaign and has a bright future in law enforcement, we think McDermott’s time is now to lead the sheriff’s office. McDermott will be able to utilize his 35-year background in law enforcement as well as previous experience in holding elected office to make the tough decisions facing the sheriff’s office in the near future. He has outlined in detail what he intends to do immediately after becoming sheriff and we like his plan. He has the support of the local lodge of the FOP, meaning most of the current rank and file want to work for him. That’s a positive.
No matter who wins the seat, it’s our hope transparency and internal and external communication improves within the office. It’s would also be wise for the next sheriff to return to traditional communication means, such as press releases and speaking and/or issuing statements through the media, rather than posting unedited diatribes about various issues affecting the department and trying to persuade and direct voters to a favored candidate.
The Sheriff’s Office needs a heightened level of professionalism and steady leadership to move it forward in the coming years. We think McDermott fits the mold best for what the office needs.
Worcester County Register of Wills: Terri Westcott is the clear choice in the Republican primary. She has worked for 18 years under Register of Wills Charlotte Cathell, who issued a glowing endorsement of her campaign last week. With Westcott, there will be no learning curve and the Snow Hill-based office can enter 2019 without any major changes needed to its operations. Westcott is more than capable of excelling at this position. She gets our support to represent the Republican Party in November.