The Dispatch’s Primary Election Endorsements

The Dispatch’s Primary Election Endorsements

An important primary election is approaching next Tuesday. Ever since the July 19 date was announced, we have worried about turnout throughout this resort and agricultural area at a busy time. This is a critical election and more than 10,000 people participated in early voting, according to poll watchers this week. We urge everyone to vote next Tuesday if they have not already. There is much on the line.

An important role of a community newspaper is to offer endorsements at election time. Endorsements, which are not to be confused with predictions, are educated opinions on races for elected office.

When it comes to weighing endorsement decisions, which we take seriously and consider over months, the process begins with evaluating the incumbent if seeking re-election. The incumbent’s background, votes, positions and effectiveness are all ripe for critical analysis.

Did the incumbent (or someone who held elected office elsewhere) carry himself or herself in a professional fashion befitting of the honor of holding elected office? If the answer to that is yes, then we match the incumbent up against the challenger(s). If the answer to that is no, then we don’t support that individual. Is there a need for new insights and perspective? Does the challenger bring an improved skill set for public service? When the answer to those questions is yes, we support the nonincumbent.

The following is a look at our endorsements for a number of local elections. These endorsements are intended to give readers a glimpse into why we have decided to support certain candidates after independent and careful review.

Most important of all, we encourage voters to let their voices be heard on Tuesday if they didn’t already take part in early voting. We also ask each citizen to consider each race individually. These decisions require attention.

Governor: We are hoping for a general election matchup between Republican Kelly Schulz and Democrat Peter Franchot.

Republican primary voters would be wise to advance Schulz next week. If Marylanders like how two-term Gov. Larry Hogan has run the state, they should vote for Schulz, a former Hogan cabinet member as the commerce secretary from 2019-22 and previously secretary of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. She has the experience and knowledge required to lead Maryland and is best suited to represent the Republican Party in November.

Franchot, the current comptroller since 2007, is the most moderate of Democratic candidates seeking to be governor. Franchot is no stranger to the shore and shown a desire to work with Ocean City on statewide issues, specifically the post-Labor Day school start bill that he advocated for over many years. For the lower shore, Franchot is the best candidate on the ballot for the dominant party in Maryland.

Worcester County Commissioner District 2: Diana Purnell is the better choice in this district. Though we don’t think she did her constituents in favors by casting a critical vote in support of a sports complex that will drastically impact her district if it materializes, we think Purnell is better suited to represent the county’s minority district. We do have concerns she may be out of touch with her constituents, however, specifically on her sports complex support. We suggest once re-elected she organize town hall meetings in her district to allow citizens the opportunity to discuss concerns and opinions on matters of local importance.

Worcester County Commissioner District 3: In a four-man race with no incumbent, this is a fascinating matchup with only one individual having elected office experience. Represented by Bud Church for the last 20 years, our choice to replace him is Eric Fiori, a local business owner, husband of a teacher and current parent to kids in the school system.

Fiori has demonstrated a depth of knowledge of the local issues during his campaign. When asked the three biggest facing the county currently, he listed “first responder funding, comprehensive rezoning and growth planning and educational funding.” On the topic of growth, he called it “inevitable, but controlled growth is a fiscal responsibility.” This demonstrates an understanding of the county and challenges facing it in the near future. When asked his views on the sports complex, he said he would have voted no because of the process the county led in selecting the proposed site and the numerous questions that remain unanswered today. His view seems to jive with the majority of citizens – support the sports complex as a general concept but oppose the chosen site and the process that led to it.

Though he does not have elected office or government experience, which is a negative, Fiori will bring a new energy and perspective to the commission in Snow Hill. He’s approachable and well-known to many in the district. There will be a learning curve, but he will rise to the challenge to represent well the West Ocean City-Berlin district.

Worcester County Commissioner District 4: We think it’s time for a new perspective in the vast western district, and Jeff McMahon is the pick in an interesting four-person race. McMahon worked for more than 40 years in public safety, including 35 years in county government highlighted by 28 years as the county’s fire marshal. He knows the county’s budget process and how government works on a micro and macro level. Through his career with the county, he worked with 25 different county commissioners. He understands the role of a commissioner and has seen how the good ones operate.

Thanks to his experience and knowledge, McMahon will be able slide right into office ready to work. There will be no learning curve for him, and he has demonstrated through his social media activity and YouTube video a solid understanding of the issues. He has managed the best campaign by far of the individuals seeking the seat. Through his traditional messaging, such as mailers, and online distributions, the lifelong county resident has proven to be ready for public office.

Worcester County Commissioner District 5: Chip Bertino is the type of elected official every government body should have. He’s outspoken, informed and accessible. He is looking for a third term representing Ocean Pines and we believe he should get it.

Bertino is arguably the most visible commissioner. His Town Hall sessions during his two terms have been popular among his constituents, attracting typically about 100 people each time. Bertino is a true conservative, and his votes and views mirror his district in most instances. He believes in limited government, and there’s no better example than his stance on the sports complex. He has become the face of the sports complex opposition in recent years. He believes it should be a private sector development, and many people agree with the stance.

Bertino is the right candidate to represent Ocean Pines over the next four years.

Worcester County Commissioner District 6: Though it’s confusing and inexcusable he did not allocate the time to participate in a question-and-answer session as part of our election preview, Jimmy Bunting is the better choice. A fourth term is warranted for the former commission president who previously served on the county’s planning commission and Board of Zoning Appeals.

Worcester County Sheriff: Matt Crisafulli deserves another term. We see no reason to make a change and Crisafulli clearly wants to continue to serve, and the same cannot be said for his opponent.

Through his first term, Crisafulli has done a solid job of being a visible official in our community. He attends community functions and participates in activities important to constituents.

Crisafulli has the right priorities and understands public safety issues. He has advocated for growth within his department before the commissioners and prioritizes school safety among everything else. He is leading the Sheriff’s Office in the right direction and merits another term to continue his work.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.