David Billings on “Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy” November 18


Rev. David Billings, author of the book Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in United State History and Life, will preach a sermon at the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River, 914 Gateway Dr., Chestertown (Crestview subdivision), on Sunday, November 18, 10 a.m. The public is invited to attend.

At a special congregational meeting earlier this fall, the UUCR congregation adopted three-year goals, one of which was a church-wide focus and community activism regarding racism and racial equality. Rev. Billings’ visit to UUCR underscores that commitment; his sermon will examine the deeply entrenched notion of White Supremacy in the U.S., which persists despite the Civil Rights movement and our election of an African American president. He will answer questions from the audience after his sermon.

Karen Somerville will provide special music for the service.

Religious Exploration for youngsters and childcare for infants and toddlers will be available during the service.

Rev. Billings will be making other appearances in Chestertown through November 20; his visit is being coordinated by the Chestertown Social Action Committee.

For questions about Rev. Billings’ visit to the Unitarian Church, please call 410-778-3440.

Santa to Arrive in Chestertown Nov. 23, with Holiday Parade Nov. 24


Chestertown’s holiday season officially kicks off on Friday, Nov. 23 as the Mayor turns on the holiday lights in Fountain Park and members of the Kent County Community Marching Band herald Santa’s arrival by fire truck.  The lighting ceremony is set for 6:30 p.m.

Santa is scheduled to arrive at 7:00 pm and then visit with children in his house until 8:00 pm. Boy Scout Troop 130 will take pictures of children with Santa (donation encouraged), and sell hot chocolate in the park.

Santa presides over the Annual Kent County Christmas Parade the following day, Saturday, Nov. 24, beginning at 10:00 am (rain, snow or shine). This popular holiday event features marching bands, classic automobiles, various floats, and familiar characters such as Rudolph, Olaf, and the Grinch.  Parade judges will award cash prizes to entrants in each category. Participation in the parade is open to everyone. If you are interested in entering a float or group, please call Kristen at 410-778-1600.

Santa will be in his Fountain Park house seeing children after the parade, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm and on the following three Saturdays: December 1, 8 and 15, also from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Children will receive gift bags from Santa courtesy of Twigs and Teacups.

Also on Saturday, Nov. 24, the community can celebrate Small Business Saturday by shopping in Downtown Chestertown. This nationwide event spotlighting local, independently owned shops and businesses provides an opportunity to reinvest your holiday shopping dollars in your local community and find some unique gifts, too. This year to celebrate Small Business Saturday, members of the Downtown Chestertown Association are offering shoppers the opportunity to win raffle baskets, and all community members are invited to participate in an Elf on the Shelf selfie promotion with prizes. Visit the DCA Facebook Page or ask local shops for information.

For more information about holiday activities, visit the Main Street Chestertown Facebook page, email Manager@mainstreetchestertown.org, or call 410-778-2991.

Emmanuel Church Set for Christmas Bazaar on November 17


Emmanuel Church, Cross St. in downtown Chestertown will hold its ever popular Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, Nov 17. Entrance is free. The bazaar features a wide variety of goods for sale, including food preserves, jewelry, elegant elephants, knitted goods, silent auctions, and Christmas and Thanksgiving gifts, all proceeds going to local charities. The bazaar will feature a Christmas Table, and a new book by Jane Scott “Samantha, The Soft Hearted Gull” about a gull that mercifully hatched osprey eggs. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

This year, proceeds will go to Janes UM Church Roof Project, Kent County Medical Adult Day Care Foundation, and KidSPOT.

All are invited to a preview party the night before, Friday November 16, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Entrance fee is $15 per person, which includes beverages and hors d’oeuvres. Here is an opportunity to get first pick on items for sale.

Location is 101 North Cross St. Contact the Church office at 410-778-3477 for further information.

Kent County Democrats Present Talk on the Midterm Election


The public is invited to an informative presentation of an analysis of the just-completed Midterm elections. Dr. Dan Nataf, Director of the Center for the Study of Local Issues in Annapolis, will offer detailed insights into the results of the 2018 election, looking in particular at MD’s First Congressional District, as well as statewide outcomes, and a look ahead to 2020. Join us at the Chester River Yacht and Country Club, 7738 Quaker Neck Rd., Chestertown, this Thursday, November 15. Doors open at 5:30 for a social time; food and beverages available for purchase. At 6:45 there will be brief business meeting; the main program starts at 7:00 pm.

For more information about the club and this event, visit the DCKC website: dckcmd.com

Kent County Election Results — Updated


Bryan DiGregory, left, candidate for State’s Attorney, and William Short, right, candidate for Kent County Commissioner, holding their signs outside the Fire House in Chestertown on Election Day. DiGregory is assured of a win.  Short,  currently in 4th place, is waiting for the absentee ballot count, which could move him into a winning position. – Photo by Jane Jewell

With all 10 Kent County precincts reporting, here are the unofficial results for Kent County in the 2018 General Election. As of the close of polls Election Day, 8,307 of the county’s 13,119 registered voters had cast votes — an impressive 63.3% turnout. However, with almost 500 absentee ballot applications requested from the county for this election plus an unknown but smaller number of provisional ballots, several local races may not be decided until those votes are returned and counted later this month.

If the Election Day totals hold up, the Kent County Commissioners will be Bob Jacob, Tom Mason, and Ron Fithian. Fifthian would be the only incumbent re-elected. However, with a spread of 655 votes between current leader Jacob and sixth-place finisher Tom Timberman, the final order of the six candidates could change, with some of the first three winning slots changing hands. For example, Short, currently in 4th place, is waiting for the absentee ballot count, which might move him into a winning position. He would need to win at least 109 more votes than Fithian with the others holding steady.

The School Board will apparently see the return of Trish McGee and Wendy Costa along with newly elected Nivek Johnson. Again, absentee ballots could result in a different final tally — although current board President McGee, with a lead of more than 2,000 votes over second-place Costa, is clearly safe.  Incumbent Costa is 74 votes ahead of third-place Johnson while Johnson leads the only remaining candidate, Francois Sullivan, by 123 votes.  As the first three places win seats on the board, the final makeup of the board would only be changed if Sullivan garnered 124 more votes of the roughly 500 outstanding than Johnson, while Costa maintains a lead over Johnson.

Democrat and current Deputy State’s Attorney Bryan DiGregory holds a strong lead of 1,417 votes over former State’s Attorney Robert Strong, the Republican candidate.  With that lead, DiGregory is also assured of a win.

For Judge of the Orphans’ Courts which handles probated wills, the apparent winners are Amy L. Nickerson (Rep), Elroy G. Boyer, Jr. (Dem), and  Elizabeth “Betty” Carroll (Rep).  However, as only 244 votes separate the first place Nickerson from the fourth and last place candidate, the roughly 500-plus absentee and provisional ballots could not only change vote totals but also the list of winners.   There were four candidates in this race with three open slots.   Carroll, in third place, is ahead of  Allan Schauber (Dem) in fourth place by 126 votes.

Clerk Circuit Court Mark Mumford and Sheriff John Price ran unopposed and thus easily won re-election.  “Kristi” Osborn also ran unopposed and was elected as the Register of Wills. Harris Murphy, also unopposed, won election as the Judge of the Circuit Court.

In the state-wide races, Kent County voters followed the statewide trend in strongly supporting incumbent Governor Hogan over Democratic opponent Ben Jealous and voting to re-elect Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat, over Republican challenger Tony Campbell. Comptroller Peter Franchot and Attorney General Brian Frosh, both Democrats, also won reelection, with wide leads in the county as well as statewide.

Kent County bucked the wider trend regarding the First Congressional District, voting 4,389 to 3,676 so far for Democratic challenger Jesse Colvin over incumbent Republican Congressman Andrew Harris. District-wide, Harris is the projected winner with around 60% of the total vote district-wide.  Neighboring Talbot County also went for Colvin.

Signs near the Fire House in Chestertown with Dollar General in background. – Photo by Jane Jewell

In the District 36 Maryland General Assembly races, Republican Senator Steven Hershey and Republican Delegates Jay Jacobs, Jeff Ghrist, and Steve Arentz were re-elected with comfortable margins. The choices of  Kent County voters mirrored those of the other counties in the district.  Jacobs led the pack with a total of 5,646 votes from Kent County.  Arentz was second with 3,508 votes.  Third was Ghrist with 3,224.     District 36 is comprised of four counties – Caroline, Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s–all on the Eastern Shore. 

Two amendments to the state Constitution, one to restrict the use of funds raised by commercial gambling to educational purposes and the second to allow voter registration on Election Day, were both approved.

In some cases, such as the County Commissioner races, Early Voting figures favored Democratic candidates, but Election Day brought out Republican voters in enough numbers to reverse the trend.  In the Kent County Commission case, Early Voting ended with all three Democrats in the lead for the three available seats. Incumbent William Pickrum (Dem) was in first place and Democratic candidate Thomas Timberman in second place.  Incumbent Ron Fithian (Dem) was third.  But Election Day dropped Pickrum and Timberman to fifth and sixth places.  Fithian stayed at third.  Republican Bob Jacob surged to first place with a total of Early and Election Day Voting of 3,766.  With 655 votes separating first and sixth place and only roughly 500 absentee and provisional ballots left to count, it is unlikely that Jacob will lose a seat.  But incumbent William Short (Rep,) who is in 4th place, needs to pick up 109 more absentee/provisional votes than Fifthian to reach third place and a seat on the Kent County Commission. However, beyond that any change in the top three spots is unlikely.  The results of the Early Voting versus Election Day totals were not known until the Election Day totals were released.

Election Judge Allen Christy points the way to a voter. Election judge Jenny Lee on right. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Preliminary numbers are from the Maryland State Board of Elections as of 11 a,m. Wednesday.  This link leads to the official Maryland government site which will have the most up-to-date figures for all races in Kent County.  Those 11:00 am numbers for all offices are listed below at the end of the article.  These Wednesday morning totals are not expected to change until after Absentee ballots are counted.

Absentee ballots are counted in two rounds, the first on Thursday, Nov. 8 and the second on Friday, Nov. 16. Absentee ballots sent by mail must be postmarked by Nov 6 and must arrive at the Board of Elections by 10 a.m. Nov. 16 to be counted. Provisional ballots will be counted on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Then after the last count on Friday, Nov. 16, the final totals will be announced and the winners of each race will be officially certified and declared. For any office where the difference between any two candidates is significantly more than 500, it is very unlikely, if not impossible, that the outcome will change much from today’s Wed, Nov 7 totals. 

Past election history shows that the absentee and provisional ballots tend to follow the trends seen in the early and election day voting, generally favoring the same candidates.  Although totals for most candidates will obviously rise, the winners may not change.  Nonetheless, there can still be surprises in individual races.  And several of the Kent County candidates in both the Commissioner and Board of Education races are close enough that absentee ballots could make the difference. 

So it’s still a horse race!  The Spy will give updates as they come in with the first coming tomorrow, Thursday, when 248 of the of the already-received absentee ballots, will be examined and– if certified as valid by the Board of Canvassers–will be added to the current totals for each office. A total of 475 absentee ballots were applied for.  Of these 350 were returned by Election Day, Nov. 6. It should be pointed out that the total of returned and valid absentee/provisional ballots could turn out to be rather more or less than the estimated 500.  Not all of the outstanding 125 absentee ballots may be returned and the number of provisional ballots cast is still unknown and how many will be validated is also undetermined.  The provisionals include some people who requested absentee ballots then turned out to be able to make it to the polls on Election Day. All these variables will increase or decrease the total of outstanding ballots.  For the first canvass or count of absentee ballots on Nov. 8, the Board of Canvassers holds back enough of the received but unopened ballots so that the final result is not obvious until the remaining Absentee Ballots and the Provisional Ballots have a chance to come in and be certified and counted on Nov. 16.  This way everyone’s ballot is counted and no one’s vote is left out.

Stay tuned for more updates as they become publically available.


Totals below are for the key contested races for Kent County offices.  Totals include Early Voting plus Election Day ballots but not the roughly 500-plus absentee plus provisional ballots.

Kent County Commissioners (Top three will be elected)

1st – 3,766 – Bob Jacob (Rep)

2nd – 3,632 – “Tom” Mason (Rep)

3rd – 3,571 – Ron Fithian (Dem)

4th – 3,463  – William Short (Rep)

5th – 3,358 – William Pickrum (Dem)

6th – 3,111 – Thomas F. Timberman (Dem)


Board of Education (Non-partisan; top three will be elected.)

1st – 5,416 –  “Trish” McGee

2nd – 3,366 – Wendy Costa

3rd – 3,292 – Nivek M. Johnson

4th – 3,169 – Francoise Sullivan


State’s Attorney (One will be elected.)

1st – 4,759 – Bryan DiGregory (Dem)

2nd – 3,288 – Robert H. Strong (Rep)


Judge of Orphan’s Court (Top three will be elected)

1st – 4,189 Amy L. Nickerson (Rep)
2nd- 4,125 Elroy G. Boyer, Jr. (Dem)
3rd – 4,071 Elizabeth “Betty” Carroll (Rep)
4th – 3,945 Allan Schauber (Dem)



All tallies below are from the  State Board of Elections website.

Official Kent County Vote Totals as of Wed., Nov, 7

County-Wide Races

Kent County Commissioner – Vote for up to 3 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Bob Jacob
Republican 1,103 2,663 0 3,766 18.0%
“Tom” Mason
Republican 1,102 2,530 0 3,632 17.3%
William Short
Republican 1,149 2,314 0 3,463 16.5%
Ron Fithian
Democratic 1,434 2,137 0 3,571 17.1%
William Pickrum
Democratic 1,497 1,861 0 3,358 16.0%
Thomas F. Timberman
Democratic 1,473 1,638 0 3,111 14.9%
Other Write-Ins
11 27 0 38 0.2%

Board of Education – Vote for up to 3 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Wendy Costa
1,313 2,053 0 3,366 22.0%
Nivek M. Johnson
1,271 2,021 0 3,292 21.5%
“Trish” McGee
1,997 3,419 0 5,416 35.3%
Francoise Sullivan
1,266 1,903 0 3,169 20.7%
Other Write-Ins
26 57 0 83 0.5%

State’s Attorney – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Robert H. Strong
Republican 879 2,409 0 3,288 40.8%
Bryan DiGregory
Democratic 2,036 2,723 0 4,759 59.1%
Other Write-Ins
2 9 0 11 0.1%

Judge of the Orphans’ Court – Vote for up to 3 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Elizabeth “Betty” Carroll
Republican 1,316 2,755 0 4,071 24.9%
Amy L. Nickerson
Republican 1,307 2,882 0 4,189 25.6%
Elroy G. Boyer, Jr.
Democratic 1,765 2,360 0 4,125 25.2%
Allan Schauber
Democratic 1,679 2,266 0 3,945 24.1%
Other Write-Ins
10 27 0 37 0.2%

Judge of the Circuit Court – Judicial Circuit 2 – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Harris Murphy
2,250 4,105 0 6,355 99.3%
Other Write-Ins
12 32 0 44 0.7%

Judge, Court of Special Appeals At Large – Donald E. Beachley – Vote Yes or No For continuance in office

(10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Donald E. Beachley Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Yes 2,003 3,628 0 5,631 87.1%
No 286 545 0 831 12.9%

Matthew J. Fader – Vote Yes or No  For continuance in office – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Matthew J. Fader Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Yes 1,942 3,536 0 5,478 86.8%
No 295 541 0 836 13.2%

Clerk of the Circuit Court – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Mark L. Mumford
Democratic 2,604 4,474 0 7,078 99.1%
Other Write-Ins
21 44 0 65 0.9%

Register of Wills –  Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
“Kristi” Osborn
Democratic 2,413 4,114 0 6,527 99.3%
Other Write-Ins
15 32 0 47 0.7%

Judge of the Orphans’ Court – Vote for up to 3 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Elizabeth “Betty” Carroll
Republican 1,316 2,755 0 4,071 24.9%
Amy L. Nickerson
Republican 1,307 2,882 0 4,189 25.6%
Elroy G. Boyer, Jr.
Democratic 1,765 2,360 0 4,125 25.2%
Allan Schauber
Democratic 1,679 2,266 0 3,945 24.1%
Other Write-Ins
10 27 0 37 0.2%

Sheriff –  Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
John F. Price
Republican 2,056 3,978 0 6,034 97.3%
Other Write-Ins
47 123 0 170 2.7%

Official Kent County Vote Totals as of Wed., Nov, 7

District-Wide Races

[District 36 is comprised of 4 Counties, all on the Eastern Shore – Caroline, Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s counties]

State Senator –  District 36 – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Stephen S. Hershey, Jr.
Republican 1,345 3,178 0 4,523 56.7%
Heather Lynette Sinclair
Democratic 1,561 1,887 0 3,448 43.2%
Other Write-Ins
3 4 0 7 0.1%


Maryland House of Delegates – District 36 – Vote for up to 3 – No more than 1 per county – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Steven James Arentz (Queen Anne’s County)
Republican 1,021 2,487 0 3,508 17.6%
Jeff Ghrist (Caroline County)
Republican 947 2,277 0 3,224 16.2%
Jay A. Jacobs (Kent County)
Republican 1,818 3,828 0 5,646 28.4%
Keirien Taylor (Caroline County)
Democratic 1,100 1,195 0 2,295 11.5%
Michael Ian Welker (Cecil County)
Democratic 1,097 1,230 0 2,327 11.7%
Crystal Woodward (Queen Anne’s County)
Democratic 1,327 1,559 0 2,886 14.5%
Other Write-Ins
1 3 0 4 0.0%

Official Kent County Vote Totals as of Wed., Nov, 7

First Maryland  District for the US Congress

Representative in US Congress –  District 1 – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Andy Harris
Republican 1,003 2,673 0 3,676 44.9%
Jesse Colvin
Democratic 1,945 2,444 0 4,389 53.6%
Jenica Martin
Libertarian 24 91 0 115 1.4%
Other Write-Ins
0 4 0 4 0.0%

Official Kent County Vote Totals as of Wed., Nov, 7

State-Wide Races

Governor / Lt. Governor – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Larry Hogan and Boyd K. Rutherford
Republican 1,998 4,066 0 6,064 73.8%
Ben Jealous and Susan Turnbull
Democratic 941 1,118 0 2,059 25.0%
Shawn Quinn and Christina Smith
Libertarian 12 28 0 40 0.5%
Ian Schlakman and Annie Chambers
Green 21 34 0 55 0.7%
Other Write-Ins
0 2 0 2 0.0%


Comptroller – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Anjali Reed Phukan
Republican 636 1,798 0 2,434 30.5%
Peter Franchot
Democratic 2,264 3,268 0 5,532 69.4%
Other Write-Ins
0 4 0 4 0.1%


Attorney General –  Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Craig Wolf
Republican 1,082 2,806 0 3,888 48.7%
Brian E. Frosh
Democratic 1,824 2,276 0 4,100 51.3%
Other Write-Ins
0 2 0 2 0.0%


U.S. Senator –  Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Tony Campbell
Republican 903 2,429 0 3,332 41.1%
Ben Cardin
Democratic 1,885 2,413 0 4,298 53.1%
Arvin Vohra
Libertarian 20 59 0 79 1.0%
Neal Simon
Unaffiliated 138 250 0 388 4.8%
Lih Young (Write In)
Democratic NR NR NR 0 0%
Michael B. Puskar (Write In)
Unaffiliated NR NR NR 0 0%
Edward Shlikas (Write In)
Unaffiliated NR NR NR 0 0%
Other Write-Ins
0 3 0 3 0.0%



Election Results: Harris Back in Congress; Jacob, Mason and Fithian Win in Commissioner Race


Finally, the Maryland Board of Elections has released Kent County and 1st District results after a considerable delay this evening.

Kent County Results

Kent County Commission



Social Action Committee Interviews: Kent County School Board Candidates


School board candidate Nivek Johnson with interviewers Charles Taylor, Arlene Lee, and Airlee Johnson

The Kent County Social Action Committee conducted interviews of candidates for three local offices that are up for election this November. The interviews were conducted over three days in October. 

Running for Board of Education seats are incumbents Wendy Costa and Trish McGee and new candidates Nivek Johnson and Francoise Sullivan. There are three seats to be filled. Election to the board is non-partisan, and the ballot does not list the candidates’ party affiliation.

The first question for Board of Education candidates noted that the schools had experienced “very serious violence and racism” during the previous school year. It asked candidates how, if elected, they would create a Kent County Public School system that is “fair, equitable and effective for all students, including students of color.

Nivek Johnson, the first to be interviewed, said that a lot of school systems are facing similar problems. He said he would encourage the County Superintendent to look into restorative justice, an approach that encourages students to resolve conflicts on their own, by bringing them together in small peer groups to talk, ask questions and air grievances. Also, he said, a round table discussion about issues of racism and violence would allow teachers to bring problems to a fair resolution without resorting to punishment. He said he had experienced the positive effects of restorative justice while teaching at St. Peter and Paul’s in Easton.

Francoise Sullivan said that many of the “ugly events” last year were the result of the board’s decision to bring in an outside contractor for school buses. She said she favored starting to talk about racism at an early age, pointing to the Students Talking About Racism (STAR) program at the middle school. She said her own daughter, an elementary school student in the county, had been told by classmates she should only play with “others like her” – “I was appalled,” Sullivan said. 

School board candidate Francoise Sullivan with interviewers Charles Taylor and Arlene Lee

Trish McGee, currently President of the Board of Education, said the board doesn’t have the power a lot of people think it does. The Superintendent and staff make the day-to-day decisions. She endorsed the steps taken last year, including a multicultural committee at Kent County Middle School. “It’s important to communicate and give value to everyone’s story,” she said.

Wendy Costa also endorsed restorative justice. She said it should be used throughout society, beginning in the schools. Also, she said, students need to visit institutions such as the Smithsonian African American Museum in Washington. Seeing different perspectives and having diverse friends can do a lot to defuse racial problems, as well, she said. Black History month should expand its material beyond the accomplishments of Martin Luther King. And students need to read more, especially reading books in common so they share more experiences with one another – she suggested the biography of Frederick Douglass and “The Color of Water” as books that would give students a wider understanding.

The candidates were asked whether they were willing to take part in a workshop on racism and whether they would require school system staff to do so. Johnson, Sullivan, and McGee said they would participate; Johnson described himself as “a huge advocate” for the training and encouraged the superintendent to pursue the idea for staff. Sullivan said it should be done for all staff and teachers, and McGee she would “encourage it in the strongest way” for board members and top staff. It would also be beneficial for students, she said, commending the STAR student group for taking on the issues of racism. “I need to do this for myself,” she said.

Kent County school board President Trish McGee

Costa said she was unfamiliar with the workshop, but that the schools “should do this kind of thing.” She said she had done similar things in other districts she had been involved with, including attending Challenge Day at the schools every year.

Candidates were also asked about ways to improve recruiting of minority teachers and administrators in the county. Johnson noted that Kent County has “a unique makeup” – its small size means that people outside the area aren’t familiar with it. He said that recruiting more teachers of color was something he had always advocated. He suggested sending retired teachers and other stakeholders to colleges outside the area to show how much the county has to offer. He also said that many black students don’t see the benefits of a teaching career, and need to be shown. He said he would work with the county commissioners on economic development as a way to make the county more attractive to new teachers.

Sullivan said there is a nationwide teacher shortage, and that the county should broaden its outreach to historically black colleges. She said that inviting candidates to visit the county, with residents hosting them in their homes – as the National Music Festival does with its performers – would be a promising approach. “We need to set a percentage of what diversity should look like,” she said, adding that the percentage should be increased every five years. Also, she said, it is important to convert new hires into teachers who stay here instead of leaving for jobs elsewhere. She suggested that the county schools partner with Washington College to become a “teacher factory” for the rest of the state.

McGee said the failure to attract teachers of color has been an issue for a long time. She said the county had hired 25 teachers for the current school year, two of whom were black and two Hispanic. She said she had spoken to Superintendent Karen Couch about it on a number of occasions, but the job of recruitment really depends on the human resources staff. “There were more teachers of color when I was in high school,” she said, noting that it’s important for students to have diverse role models. She said, “We need to go beyond the schools” to involve people from the business community and other local stakeholders in the recruitment process. “Kent County is a hard egg to crack for a new person coming in,” she said, and the retention rate of first- and second-year teachers is “not very good.” She also noted that expecting Washington College to fill the teacher shortage might not be realistic – “there were very few people of color when I was there,” she said – and added that teachers hired from the college don’t tend to stay any longer than those hired from other areas.

School board member Wendy Costa and interviewer Ned Southworth

Costa also commented on the national teacher shortage. She said Kent County gets a lot of its teachers from Pennsylvania and Delaware. She said attracting more teachers, including teachers of color, is a question of making the system competitive with others, especially in terms of salaries. Teachers have traditionally not been treated like professionals, she said, giving the example of expecting them to perform lunch and bus duty – jobs that could be done by volunteers or non-teaching staff. If teaching were a more attractive profession in general, more people of color would be involved. As far as partnering with Washington College, it would be “great, but it’s not going to solve the problem.”

The candidates were also asked about ways to involve more students in after-school activities when parents or caregivers are unable to provide transportation to those activities because of work schedules or lack of a car. “I’m a proponent of after-school activities,” said Johnson. He said the board needs to put pressure on the county commissioners to provide more funding for schools. Also, he said, the board needs to look at its own budget to find money for after-school buses. He would work with the school district’s financial department to find funding. “It can be done and it should be done,” he said.

“It’s an issue for a lot of parents,” Sullivan said. “We need to address it on a big scale.” She noted that many families need both parents to work and that it’s the school district’s responsibility to make opportunities available to all its students.

McGee said that after-school transportation was one of the casualties of the schools’ recent budget crunch. While there used to be late buses, there haven’t been any for “a long time,” she said. Given the comparatively high levels of poverty in the county, most families need both parents to work, and they can’t get back to school to bring their children home. Transportation is “a county-wide issue,“ not just a problem with the schools, she said, and there’s no money to make it work.

To Costa, the lack of transportation is one of the biggest problems. One issue is the fact that school hours are “divorced from” parents’ work schedules. “That’s got to change,” she said, with school hours more congruent with work hours. She said the transportation issues also affect academic work, making it difficult for the schools to provide activities such as debate teams or math and science clubs.

School board candidates were also asked whether they would take and encourage teachers and administrators how they would support an expanded volunteer system in the schools; and what are ways for the schools to become innovative while still working within the state’s requirements, such as physical education, recess, and relevant local content such as African American history and culture.

Interviewers included SAC members Paul Tue, Charles Taylor, Airlee Johnson, Sherrie Tilghman, Ned Southworth, Arlene Lee, and Mel Rappelyea.

The interview questions were compiled based on issues raised at a joint meeting of the Social Action Committee and the Kent County branch of the NAACP. “Our questions posed to the candidates were based on the survey of many people at a joint meeting of the NAACP-Kent Branch and the Social Action Committee in May 2018. The members of both groups identified their primary concerns, needs, and passions regarding the quality of life and justice issues currently in Kent County. The Political Action Subcommittee of the SAC then took those responses and formulated the questions posed to the candidates, specific to each of the offices represented.

The final questions – between 9 and 11 per candidate, depending on the office – were drafted by the SAC’s political committee. As might be expected from the groups creating the questions, a number of them focused on racial issues affecting the local community. 

Each candidate was asked the same questions as others for the same office, in separate one-hour sessions. They did not see the questions until they arrived for the interview, at which point they were given a few minutes to look them over. Occasionally the interviewers would ask follow-up questions or request clarification, but in general, the candidates were allowed to take their answers in whatever direction they wanted. As a result, not all candidates gave equally long answers to all the questions.

The Social Action Committee consists of about 100 community members of all ages, who came together in 2017 to address racism in the community. The SAC is comprised of a number of subcommittees, each with a specific focus to actively dismantle racism in the community in areas such as education, jobs/employment, politics, and community social events/observances. The committee meets at Sumner Hall at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. All community members are welcome. For more information, contact Rosemary Ramsey Granillo, Director of the Local Management Board:  Office:  410-810-2673; email:  rramseygranillo@kentgov.org.

Talbot Special Riders to Host Fall Horse Show


Talbot Special Riders will host its second show of the Jaime Lee Hutchison Memorial Horse Show series on Saturday, November 17, 2018 starting at 9 a.m. at Timber Grove Farm, 6292 Statum Road in Preston, Maryland.

The series is held in loving memory of Jaime Hutchison who tragically lost her battle with cancer in 2017. “She was truly one of our special riders,” said Kim Hopkins, Executive Director of Talbot Special Riders. “She taught everyone how to live and love in the moment.”

Talbot Special Riders has been serving Shore area children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional needs since 1981. Over thirty of its program riders are expected to compete in a trail class and a barrel race. A rider recognition ceremony will be held at noon.

The public is invited to attend free of charge. Donations are welcomed and appreciated. Food will be available for purchase on site.

About Talbot Special Riders
Talbot Special Riders is a registered nonprofit organization and a member of PATH. Its mission is to build confidence, self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment for individuals with physical, cognitive, and emotional needs by utilizing equine assisted activities and therapies. Talbot Special Riders has been providing this service to residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne and Talbot counties for more than 37 years. Learn more at www.talbotspecialriders.org.

Kent County Early Voting Hits New High!


There were seven paper ballot booths and one electronic voting booth in the voting center at the Kent County Library for Early Voting. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Early Voting in Maryland ended yesterday, and official records indicate that the turnout topped all expectations.

According to Cheemoandia Blake, Kent County Director of Elections, 2,999 county voters, 22.8% of those registered, had cast their ballots as of the close of voting at 8:00 pm on Thursday, Nov. 1.

For comparison, in the 2014 gubernatorial election, 1,969 county voters took part in early voting, for a 15.47% turnout. This year’s total nearly matches that in 2016 — a presidential election, when turnout is almost always higher — when the county saw 3,364 early voters, nearly 26% of those eligible.

Alice and Garnett Demby of Chestertown were the last two voters in Kent County Early Voting at 7:58 pm on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. – Photo by Jane Jewell

As of the close of polls on Tuesday, the early voting totals included 1,249 Democrats, 756 Republicans, and 295 others — including Green, Libertarian, and unaffiliated voters. The total accounts for 20% of registered Democrats, 15.5% of Republicans, and 12.7% of other voters. On the final day of voting, 442 voters appeared at the polls, of whom 242 were Democrats, 146 Republicans, and 54 other parties or unaffiliated. These figures represent party registration only; how they actually voted won’t be known until the complete vote is tabulated after the close of polls Tuesday.

As of the end of September, there were 13,139 voters registered in the county. The total does not include new voters who registered during early voting, although that number is not expected to be large. Under Maryland law, 17-year-olds are allowed to register and vote in early voting, as long as their 18th birthday occurs before Election Day, Nov. 6.

New voters needed to register by Nov. 1 to vote on Election Day. A proposed amendment for Maryland’s state constitution on this year’s ballot would allow voters to register and vote on Election Day in future elections.

Early Voting poll workers finish up for the day.  

Early voting was reportedly heavy throughout Maryland, with more than twice the number who cast early ballots in the 2014 gubernatorial election having voted by Thursday, according to an article in the Baltimore Sun. National reports indicate a similarly large turnout in other states.

Tameka Johnson, Kent County Elections Technician stands by the daily totals of posted on the wall in the library. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Poll worker Allen Christy was in charge of the scanner, helping voters scan their ballot and troubleshooting any problems. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Chief Election Judge Sam Johnston with the official locked folder. – Photo by Jane Jewell