Kent County Election Results — Updated

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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.

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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)

*****

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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%

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

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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 Commission Candidates

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Tom Timberman, candidate for Kent County Commission, is interviewed by members of the Social Action Committee. From left: Tilera Wright; Timberman; Paul Tue; Arlene Lee; 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 early in October. The first two four-hour sessions were held at Sumner Hall, while the final group of candidates was interviewed on the second floor of Chestertown Town Hall. No audience was present for the sessions; only members of the Social Action Committee and representatives of the press were in the room. 

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 (i.e., the Board of Commissioners, the Board of Education, the State’s Attorney’s Office).

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. 

The candidates for County Commissioner include the three incumbents – Democrats William Pickrum and Ron Fithian and Republican Billy Short – along with Democrat Tom Timberman and Republicans Tom Mason and Bob Jacob. There are three seats to be filled, and the three candidates receiving the highest vote totals will be elected.

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.

Candidates for County Commissioner were asked nine questions, beginning with “Please describe how you see racism in Kent County,” and “What will you do to lead Kent County in the dismantling of the current barriers experienced by people of color in this County?”

Timberman, who was the first to be interviewed, said he was stunned to see physical segregation in Kent County. “It’s the worst I’ve seen in the United States,” he said. He said there is discrimination in employment and in the public schools and a lack of affordable housing in the towns. “The economy is the key to everything,” he said, citing a “Kent 2025 Strategic Plan” he has crafted as part of his campaign. The county will “collapse” unless it can bring in more businesses and residents to provide more tax revenue to county government. He said a “21st Century technical training center” could be a key step toward developing job skills for a modern economy.

Tom Mason (left), answers questions from Charles Taylor, Arlene Lee and Airlee Johnson of the Social Action Committee

Mason, who also interviewed on the first day, said there seems to be “a division between people,” and that they “don’t seem to want to mix.” “It’s always seemed to be that way,” he said, noting that he had attended a meeting of the county commissioners where State Highway Administration officials delivered their annual report and saw no African Americans there. He said that African American leaders “need to step up and involve people in programs.” He said he grew up in Cecil County, where he said segregation and racial divisions “weren’t an issue. I never experienced it.” “Some of my best friends are black,” he said. He said that the commissioners need to be open to community leaders and do whatever is needed to remove barriers. “But it has to be both ways – it’s hard to involve people if they don’t show up,” he said.

Kent County Commissioner William Pickrum (left) answers questions from SAC members Ned Southworth and Sherrie Tilghman

Pickrum, who was born in Kent County and graduated from then-segregated Garnet High School, said he was “very familiar with discrimination and racism.” He noted that when he moved back to the county some 25 years ago, after a career in the U.S. Coast Guard and in aviation, he attended a county economic development meeting where he was the only black person present and was asked: “Who are you and why are you here?” “Irritated” by that question, Pickrum said, he got involved in politics. He said there is a “lack of welcome” still prevalent today, more among natives of the county than in recent arrivals. “I don’t see anyone like me,” he said, when he visits stores and banks in Chestertown. He said that lack of welcome is the reason many black people don’t take part in community events. For his part, Pickrum said, during his time on the commission, the county hired its first black department heads and its first female department heads, plus its first two female county administrators. He said he had worked to find people of color for county boards and commissions. The fight against discrimination is an on-going process, he said.

County Commissioner Ron Fithian answers a question as SAC member Airlee Johnson listens

Fithian said that when he grew up in Rock Hall, there was plenty of work for everyone, with many people of color working as watermen. “We worked together and played together,” he said. “Some of my best friends are African-American.” He went on to describe his relationship with various individuals over the years. “Sure, racism exists,” he said. “But it doesn’t with me; I do what I can to deal with it,” treating others the way they treat him. Fithian noted that several important department heads at the county are people of color, including the warden of the county detention center, Herbert Dennis, and Myra Butler, director of Parks and Recreation, and other employees “throughout our system.” He added that he had fired one county employee for being disrespectful to African Americans. “Racism is around because people don’t understand one another,” he said.

Candidate Bob Jacob with SAC interviewers Mel Rapelyea and Arlene Lee

Jacob, another Rock Hall native, told of playing baseball and other sports on the same teams as African Americans. “Race didn’t matter,” he said. “We went to school together, we rode together to games. We never thought about race.” He said he had heard about job discrimination in the county, but not what specific jobs were affected by it. He said it should be “a priority” to end discrimination – “We should be past this. This is 2018. It blows my mind that people are still like that. It’s all about getting the job done,” he said.

Billy Short, who has been a commissioner for six years, described himself as “one of the naïve ones” about racial issues. He said he was born and raised in the Big Woods area, where many of his neighbors were African Americans. “I don’t stereotype people or judge them by their color,” he said. He said he does hear people “being nasty,” which he described as an unfortunate part of “the culture we live in now.” He said that many of the barriers black residents face are “in the private sector.” He said there are plenty of job openings in the county, with more people coming into the county to work than commuting outside the county for jobs. “I don’t know how to force people to work,” he said.

Commissioner Billy Short and SAC interviewer Arlene Lee

All the candidates were asked whether they would agree to complete racism-awareness training or attend an Undoing Racism workshop during their first year in office and whether they would ensure that their staff would take such training. All agreed that they would take such training and that they would request that their staff do so. Timberman said he was surprised that county staff had not already been asked to take such training, and added that sexual harassment training should also be required. He said such training would be one of his highest priorities. Mason said he would hope that county staff had already had training on racism – “If not, why not?” Short said the county’s personnel department had already conducted some workshops for staff. Pickrum said he had received such training while in the U.S. Coast Guard. He said such training is an ongoing process with county staff, though he added that it was “not as robust as I’d like.”

On a question about what initiatives they would take in their first 120 days in office to increase the number of jobs in the county, the incumbents naturally had a different perspective than their challengers. Pickrum pointed out that local government does not create jobs. It can “level the playing fields and facilitate the process,” he said. He noted that the county has built infrastructure, such as the fiber-optic cable it has financed, and made an effort to see that its students are trained for the “jobs of tomorrow.” He also pointed to the “Hot Desks” facility created partly by the county economic development office as a way to make opportunities for entrepreneurs within the county.

It’s tough to bring in jobs,” said Fithian. He said that students graduating from high school – including his own daughter – often find it necessary to leave the county to find suitable work. He said he hoped the fiber-optic installation would bring in some jobs. He said the county’s successful efforts to retain Dixon Valve would be rewarded by new employment opportunities, and suggested that the newly upgraded Route 301 corridor, which the county has designated as a growth area, would lure new employers, especially around Millington.

Jobs are here if people want to work,” said Short, pointing to Dixon Valve, which he said will bring in 400 to 700 jobs in its expanded facilities. The new Chesapeake 5 movie theater, to which the commissioners extended a $75,000 loan, will bring in 15 to 20 jobs. And the Route 310 corridor could be expected to bring in jobs with its improved access to the Middletown Delaware area. He ranked the fiber-optic installation as the best thing the current commissioners had done for the economy, with the retention of Dixon Valve second best.

Mason said he would direct the county’s economic development office to spread the message that “Kent County is open for business.” He said the developers of Dollar General stores told him that Kent County was one of the worst places to build, that they had to “fight, fight, fight” to get anything approved. He pointed to the Route 301 corridor as “a golden opportunity,” and that the county should do anything possible to start development there. He said Queen Anne’s County is already working to exploit the potential, with the attitude in Queen Anne that “Kent won’t do anything.” He also said current businesses should be encouraged to expand. He pointed out that every new chicken house built by a farmer would increase the county’s property tax base.

Timberman said the county should develop a strategic plan including the five incorporated towns, with local businesses’ input. He said the county also needs to focus on the needs of seniors, with residents over 60 years old constituting 38 percent of the population. Identifying what they need could be a key to areas of economic expansion, with areas such as health care, housing, and physical training as opportunities. He would also move funding from the tourism office to economic development – they’re not separate operations, he said. While he would start these efforts in the first 120 days, realistically speaking they would take years to complete, he said.

Jacob said he would talk about the school board budget earlier in the year and launch a study of why the county’s revenues and population are not increasing. He said the county needs to find out why the schools lost 61 students since last year. “We need people here to increase revenues,” he said. The county “can’t just live off Dixon Valve and Lamotte,” he said. “You need people to live here – you can’t tax commuters.” He said that many of the county’s vacant houses could be rental properties for vacationers.

Other questions for County Commission candidates focused on ways to bridge the achievement gap between students of color and white students in the county schools; ways to use public/private partnerships to provide public transportation and affordable housing in the county; and ways to encourage local employers to develop workforces comprised of local residents.

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

The spy will report on interviews with the candidates for States Attorney and for the county Board of Education in upcoming articles. 

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.

Kent County Commissioner Race: A Conversation with Ron Fithian

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Every election year, the Chestertown Spy uses the power of multimedia to introduce candidates for local office in a way that is far less traditional than the typical community forum or debate. Rather than be limited by a set amount of time to state policy views or answer questions, the Spy has used the video interview format to understand more fully a candidate’s points of view as well as their personalities. We continue this practice again this year with six conversations with those running to be one of the three Kent County Commissioners. During these chats, candidates have been asked questions on economic development, public school funding, public transportation as well as understanding their backgrounds and motivation for running for office.

We continue our series with Ron Fithian. Ron is the town manager for Rock Hall and has served on the Kent County Commission for the last twenty years.

This video is approximately minutes in length

Kent County Commissioner Race: A Conversation with Bob Jacob

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Every election year, the Chestertown Spy uses the power of multimedia to introduce candidates for local office in a way that is far less traditional than the typical community forum or debate. Rather than be limited by a set amount of time to state policy views or answer questions, the Spy has used the video interview format to understand more fully a candidate’s points of view as well as their personalities. We continue this practice again this year with six conversations with those running to be one of the three Kent County Commissioners. During these chats, candidates have been asked questions on economic development, public school funding, public transportation as well as understanding their backgrounds and motivation for running for office.

We continue our series with Bob Jacob. Born and raised in Kent County, Bob is the owner and president of Chesapeake CNC Manufacturing Center, producing Swiss Screw Machining of precision parts and assembly.

Kent County Commissioner Race: A Conversation with Tom Mason

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Every election year, the Chestertown Spy uses the power of multimedia to introduce candidates for local office in a way that is far less traditional than the typical community forum or debate. Rather than be limited by a set amount of time to state policy views or answer questions, the Spy has used the video interview format to understand more fully a candidate’s points of view as well as their personalities. We continue this practice again this year with six conversations with those running to be one of the three Kent County Commissioners. During these chats, candidates have been asked questions on economic development, public school funding, public transportation as well as understanding their backgrounds and motivation for running for office.

We continue our series with Tom Mason. Born and raised in Cecil County, Tom began his career as a dairy farmer after graduating from the University of Maryland. He has been actively involved in state agricultural policy and on the Maryland Farm Bureau and a trustee of the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.

This video is approximately twenty minutes in length.

Kent County Commissioner Race: A Conversation with William Pickrum

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Every election year, the Chestertown Spy uses the power of multimedia to introduce candidates for local office in a way that is far less traditional than the typical community forum or debate. Rather than be limited by a set amount of time to state policy views or answer questions, the Spy has used the video interview format to understand more fully a candidate’s points of view as well as their personalities. We continue this practice again this year with six conversations with those running to be one of the three Kent County Commissioners. During these chats, candidates have been asked questions on economic development, public school funding, public transportation as well as understanding their backgrounds and motivation for running for office.

We continue our series with William Pickrum, a Democrat incumbent on the Kent County Commission. A product of Kent County public education, William earned his BS degree from the Coast Guard Academy and a masters degree in public administration from New York University. After serving as a commander in the  USCG, Pickrum is a project manager and adjunct professor at Delaware State University. He has served on the Kent County Council for fifteen years and acts as its president in the current term.

This video is approximately twenty minutes in length.

The Movies Are Back!

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Ribbon cutting at the Grand Opening of Chesapeake Movies 5 in Chestertown – Linda Kuiper, Billy Short, Bill Ingersoll, Rebecca Murphy, Ira Miller, Chris Cerino, Ron Fithian, Mike Klein, Marty Stetson, Ellsworth Tolliver, Kay MacIntosh – Photo by Jane Jewell

The Chesapeake 5 movie theater held its grand opening Friday, Oct. 12, and a good crowd was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony in the lobby.

On hand to wield the scissors was Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino, accompanied by council members Linda Kuiper, Marty Stetson, and Ellsworth Tolliver, along with county commissioners Ron Fithian and Billy Short. The economic development directors for the town and county, Kay MacIntosh and Jamie Williams, were also present; both took significant roles in helping bring the theater back to town.

Movies playing the first weekend at Chesapeake Movies 5 in Chestertown through Thursday, Oct 18.  Starting Friday, Oct. 19, will be “A Star is Born” and “Halloween 2018”- Photo by Jane Jewell

Mike Klein, Ira Miller, and Bob Weinholdt, principals of Chesapeake Movies, were also on hand for the opening – as well as a good crowd of interested locals.

Cerino, in opening remarks, described the process of returning the theater to town as“a long haul,” and he thanked the owners for sticking it out. He also thanked the county commissioners for their part in extending a $75,000 loan to the theater to allow them to complete renovations. The loan will be repaid from proceeds of the town’s entertainment tax.

Trying out the new recliners at the Grand Opening. – In front are Rebecca Murphy, Community Liaison for Chesapeake Theaters, and Chris Cerino, mayor of Chestertown. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Weinholdt, who performed much of the renovation needed before the reopening, described the local people he met while working at the theater, as some of “the nicest people I’ve ever met.” He said the theater had used as many local contractors as possible, as well as hiring locally.

Mike Klein and Ira Miller, the other two principals of Chesapeake Movies along with Weinholdt, spoke eloquently about how much movies had meant to them growing up and how they hoped to bring back that small town movie theater experience where families go to movies together and young people go on their first dates.  You make memories as well as seeing movies, they said.

The theater was open for tours, with visitors invited to check out the new recliner seats and the other amenities, including snacks and drinks.

Erin Jedlanek, Mike Klein, co-owner of Chesapeake Movies, and Elise Davis. Jedlanek and Davis have both worked with Klein at his other movie locations and are now helping get Chestertown’s theater up and running. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Your Spy reporters returned Friday evening to check on attendance to the first night’s shows. Not surprisingly, plenty of movie-goers made it to the opening night. The biggest draws were “Venom” and “First Man,” according to box office personnel.  “The House with a Clock” and “Night School” will be shown through Thursday, Oct 18.  The other three movies, “Venom”, “First Man”, and “Venom” will continue for at least another week with “A Star is Born” and “Halloween 2018” opening on Friday, Oct. 19.

Almost all the recliners, which patrons can reserve by phone or online, were sold out.  Patrons can reserve recliners days or even weeks in advance and pay for them online at the theater’s website.  General admission tickets after 4:00 pm are $9.00 for adults with $7.00 for children 12 or under and seniors 62 or over. Recliners are $2 more in each category.  Matinees before 4:00 pm are a dollar off for adults.  See seating chart below or online.

The rocker chairs up front in general admission have cup holders while the recliners do not. But there are new eating areas just outside each theater door where patrons can sit at small tables with their food and beverages while waiting for their movie to start.  In addition to popcorn ($4.50 small, $6 medium, $7 large), the theater has cheese pizza for $7 ($7.50 with pepperoni) and chicken tenders with french fries for $7.50.  Hot dogs are $3.50.  Sodas run $3 for small, $4 medium, and $5 for large.  But refills are free!

Employees at Grand Opening on Oct 12 at Chesapeake Movies 5 in Chestertown – Front row – Rachel Kruger, Jordan Payne, Alan Yang, Jillian Thomas, Back row – Becca Darwin, Emily Kruger (sister of Rachel), Justin Gunter, Eric Ireland – Photo by Jane Jewell

Two or three experienced employees from one of the owners’ other theaters were on hand during each shift to help the new employees learn the ropes.  Almost all of the new employees are local hires from Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties.  Quite a few are Kent County High School grads. Two– Jillian Thomas and Alan Yang– are current students at Queen Anne’s High School.

The ticket office and concessions stand workers – about a dozen, all told — were almost as excited as the patrons, who were pleased to see movies returning to town after a nearly 18-month hiatus. With Saturday and Sunday matinees, discounted prices on Tuesdays, free drink refills, and a points system in which regular customers can get rewards for their ticket and concession purchases, their patience appears to be amply rewarded.

You can see current and upcoming movies and sign up for the theater’s weekly email and rewards program at the website, www.ChesapeakeMovies5.com.   If you sign up online before your first movie, your ticket price will go toward reward points.  Just be sure to give your email to the box office or at the concession stand.

Welcome to Chestertown, Chesapeake Movies!

Photography by Jane Jewell and Peter Heck

Seating plan for Chesapeake Movies 5 in Chestertown. Blue indicates three rows of recliners in back. Orange is general admission rocker chairs in front three rows. – Photo by Peter Heck

Anne Charles relaxes in recliner B3 Friday afternoon just after the noon ribbon cutting at the Chesapeake Movies Grand Opening. Just four more hours till the first movie! – Photo by Jane Jewell

Jamie Williams, Kent County Economic Development Director, enjoys a coke at the grand opening. Refills are free!

 

A new eating area outside theater door. Note sign giving the title, time and rating of the currently playing movie in that theater. Jana Carter, Gay Slagle, & Kate Houbowicz

Joyce Luff, on left, and Linda Kuiper, on right, town council for 2nd district in Chestertown,  in the new recliners at Chesapeake Movies 5 in Chestertown 

Concession stand at new Chesapeake Movies 5 in Chestertown – Photo by Jane Jewell

 

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Kent County Commissioner Race: A Conversation with Bill Short

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Every election year, the Chestertown Spy uses the power of multimedia to introduce candidates for local office in a way that is far less traditional than the typical community forum or debate. Rather than be limited by a set amount of time to state policy views or answer questions, the Spy has used the video interview format to understand more fully a candidate’s points of view as well as their personalities. We continue this practice again this year with six conversations with those running to be one of the three Kent County Commissioners. During these chats, candidates have been asked questions on economic development, public school funding, public transportation as well as understanding their backgrounds and motivation for running for office.

We continue our series with Bill “Billy” Short, a Republican incumbent on the Kent County Commission.  A product of Kent County public education, Billy has been a local entrepreneur for several decades with the creation of three businesses, including Eastern Interiors on High Street in Chestertown. Appointed to replace ailing Commissioner Alex Rasin in 2012, Short consequently has won two elections since that time.

This video is approximately nineteen minutes in length.