2010 Primary Election Endorsements
The Dispatch offers a series of endorsements in advance of the primary election, which will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 14. We take this duty of giving readers our recommendations seriously and looked at the big picture in making these suggestions, which are not to be confused with predictions.
State Senate – District 38
Democrat: Jim Mathias, current House 38B delegate, gets the easy nod for his elected office qualifications, legislative experience and moderate voting record in Annapolis. A Mathias victory in the primary will set up an intriguing showdown with Michael James, who he defeated in the 2006 delegate race.
House of Delegates-District 38B
Democrats: Berlin Mayor Gee Williams and incumbent Norm Conway get the nod here to advance to the general election which is sure to be a competitive race.
Williams has done a tremendous amount of positive things for the town of Berlin since he took over as mayor and his leadership has been strong and unquestionably direct and responsive. From his time as a councilman and mayor of Berlin, his volunteer hours on the local central committee and his years in the newspaper business, Williams understand politics and knows how to affect change. He deserves to move forward to the general election as we believe his voice is worthy of consideration from both parties.
Conway is an Annapolis veteran with two decades of experience in legislative matters. His post as chair of the House Appropriations Committee gives the shore a voice, although some wonder how effective he has been in recent years. He should move on to the general election.
Republicans: A supporter recently described A. Kaye Kenney as a “firecracker”, and that’s a characteristic we like in an elected official. She offers a diverse background as a farmer, business owner and appointed official to government agencies. She is the front-runner of the conservatives and is a viable candidate to stake a seat in this district in November.
Marty Pusey brings a lot to the table with her candidacy. She is a small business owner, a state employee and a farmer. This diversity makes her a strong candidate and provides her with the experience and background to serve as a quality representative. She would be a solid choice to represent the party in the General Election.
Months ago, due to the clandestine and antiquated nature they operate within Snow Hill, we privately vowed to not endorse any incumbent because clearly the status quo is acceptable to them. We have softened the stance in favor of avoiding the dangers of tunnel vision and obsessing on a single issue when there are many to consider when it comes to issuing endorsements for public office.
Currently, it’s no secret the commissioners are routinely deliberating privately about matters that should be discussed in public meetings. That’s a fact and an independent body found that to be so in the individual case of consolidating some planning departments. As it stands now, county government meetings are not televised or even tape recorded, and the majority of the current commissioners feel that’s just fine. Otherwise, they would be aired by now. This is unacceptable.
The following recommendations take into account the people we think will move forward with modernizing the way the county operates and get it out of its bubble as well as general feeling of how they will represent the people of their respective districts.
District 1: Republican: Four Republicans are vying for the right to represent the party in the General Election. Merrill Lockfaw is the choice here. He is a retired roads superintendent of the county and therefore has a leg up on specific matters pertaining to how this county operates, from the grassroots level on up.
District 2: Democrat: The board needs a moderate shake-up to affect change in the way the county is governed. Eddie Lee is a good place to start in the county’s minority district. Lee understands the county’s lack of transparency and will bring a new energy and will to the district’s representative. He has been campaigning diligently and is knocking on many doors. One resident told us recently Lee has come to her house three times within a couple weeks to discuss the issues and seek support. That’s the type of dedication and energy needed in Snow Hill.
District 4: Democrat: Perhaps the commissioner with the most knowledge and historic perspective of the current board members, Virgil Shockley is a solid representative for his district and deserves the nod through the primary over long-time educator Tommy Tucker. His 12 years of county government experience will be pivotal in future budget deliberations, which may require some creative thinking to avoid the dreaded tax increase that cannot happen under any circumstance. Shockley, as one of the senior ranking members, needs to make bringing transparency to the county a priority. This will be a way for him distinguish himself and further earn our respect.
District 5: Republican: A formidable challenger, Bob Thompson, faces two-term incumbent Judy Boggs in the primary. However, Thompson’s recent decision to accept the appointment of the Ocean Pines Association’s general manager duties removes him from consideration in our view. If Thompson had been in the position for years, it would be acceptable. Some say it’s a conflict of interest for him to serve the OPA and be a commissioner. That’s not a huge concern to us, as many commissioners have held full-time jobs and served the public. It’s the new nature of the post that gives us reason for pause and the current and time-consuming challenges facing the homeowners association. Boggs gets the edge here to move through, although we would like to see her take a stand on the county’s transparency issue.
District 6: Republican: Nobody works harder than Linda Busick. Unlike some of her current colleagues, she actually does her homework and seems committed to opening up county dealings to the public. We give her the edge here with the key being her experience with the county budget process and her stated willingness to push through a commitment to get county meetings televised. We don’t have anything unfavorable to say about challenger Jimmy Bunting, a competent, affable long-time small business owner with a solid reputation, but we think Busick’s time on the board gives her the edge and will be particularly vital in budget discussions.
Republicans: Reggie Mason’s experience within the Sheriff’s Office and his management during retiring Sheriff Chuck Martin’s illness prove he’s more than capable. He understand law enforcement partnerships are key with allied agencies and his record of solid leadership distinguishes him from his opponent.
Democrats: Bobby Brittingham has shown a willingness to explore all of the fiscal sides of law enforcement, including the high cost of out-of-county vehicle use by deputies. He notes the Sheriff’s office has increased its mileage and costs for out-of-county vehicle use and understands that’s an unnecessary expense and funds that could be used elsewhere. We would like to see him move on to the General Election.