Sheriff’s Race: Janney, Sutton Rematch in November

September 15, 2010

   Incumbent Republican Barry Janney will again face Democrat Chris Sutton in the November general election, after Janney won the Republican primary and Sutton defeated challengers in the Democratic primary Tuesday.

      Sutton soundly defeated challenger Robert “Skip” DeWitt, racking up 3,128 votes to Dewitt’s 1,855. A third candidate, William Gerczak, received 594 votes. Sutton received 56 percent of the vote to DeWitt’s 33 percent, while Gerczak tallied 10 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.

     On the Republican side, Janney also faced a three-way primary but ended up with 3,322 votes, or 53 percent of the total. Dan Slater, who had waged an increasingly aggressive campaign, came in second place with 2,011 votes or 32 percent of the total.  Al Michael came in third, with 932, or nearly 15 percent of the vote.

    Janney and Sutton ran against each other four years ago. Sutton has been running a virtual campaign almost since he lost that election and he formally declared his candidacy more than a year ago.

   Both men have raised susbstantial campaign warchests  Janney has held a sizeable amount in reserve for the general election while Sutton spent heavily on the primary challenge from DeWitt, a current deputy and the son of the late Jack DeWitt, who was a popular Sheriff of the county for many years.

Cecil County Goes to the Polls

September 13, 2010

  In a previous life, we wrote or edited many of the “Maryland Goes to the Polls” front page articles in The Baltimore Sun on every election day. It was a guide to basic voting information, names and political affiliations of candidates,  and otherwise a chance for readers to take a deep breath and think about their  choices without a lot of last minute back and forth charges and counter-charges among candidates. That might seem like a quaint custom from the days before the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and instant news, and to some extent it is. Quaint, but valid.

  At this late stage, with voters heading to the polls in a few hours, it is time for individuals to make their own choices– without the Cecil Times reporting every second of every comment that has been swirling through cyberspace for the past 24 hours. And there have been a lot of things written or posted by people who may take two aspirin and regret it in the morning.

  We will, however, bring our readers up to date on two significant issues, with links to places where you can read more information and make your own judgments.

  –Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich appeared at a weekend fundraiser for incumbent Delegate Richard Sossi (R-36) to firmly reiterate his support for Sossi’s re-election. Sossi has been the victim of last-minute negative mailers and robo-calls, attributed to his primary opponent, Steve Hershey, and Sen. E.J. Pipkin. Cecil Times filed an updated report on the Sossi-Hershey race here: 

 Del. Sossi has posted about the matter on his Facebook pages here:

–The hotly contested Democratic primary for Cecil County Sheriff has had a last-minute back and forth over responses to a questionnaire to candidates from the Cecil County Patriots group. In his responses, Chris Sutton discussed the costs of having deputies assigned to the public schools. There is much debate raging in cyberspace over whether the comments meant he would pull the deputies out of schools and put them on patrols or whether he meant the school board should come up with some funds to help pay for the costs. You can decide for yourself.

   The link to Sutton’s answers to the questionnaire is here:

 There is a raging debate on the matter on the unmoderated Topix bulletin board here:

(For those readers unfamiliar with Topix, it is rough and tumble and people can post under any assumed name they choose. It is not for the faint of heart.)

  For voters looking for some last-minute information on the many candidates on Tuesday’s ballot, the Cecil County Patriots have compiled a non-partisan voter guide that includes videos of their two forums for County Commissioner candidates (one for Democrats and one for Republicans.) It adds up to four hours of videos that might be a bit much to take in all at one sitting, but here is the link to the Patriots’ candidate information page:

  The Cecil Times also covered both Commissioners’ forums and our reports can be read here, for the Republicans:  and here, for the Democrats:

   For the 36th District House of Delegates and state Senate races, Cecil Times covered the League of Women Voters candidates forum in Centreville and filed this report:

    You can also click on the Politics 2010 tab at the top of the Cecil Times homepage and find links to all our political coverage of the season, including our exclusive campaign finance reporting.

    We thank our many readers who have expressed their support for the original reporting Cecil TImes does on politics and local news issues, and which you won’t find elsewhere, either in newspapers or in the regular blogosphere.  We will be back Tuesday night with our election night reports.

   Until then, we will just say: exercise your right to VOTE, regardless of the candidates you choose. Remember, there are brave men and women serving our country overseas who will be voting by absentee ballots. Honor them by going to your local polling place on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Sheriff’s Campaign Finances

September 9, 2010

    Cecil Times has published multiple reports on the campaign finances of the crowded field of candidates running in the Democratic and Republican primaries for Cecil County Sheriff. Here is a brief update on where the candidates’ finances stand as of the most recent reports to the state Board of Elections, filed Sept. 3.

Democratic Primary Candidates:


 He raised an additional $14,688 since his last campaign finance report. After expenses of $8,978, plus a carry-over balance of about $24, he ended up with $5,684 cash in the bank.  Most of his funds came from another golf fundraising event.

 But he also had several large donations, the largest of which was $1,250 from Sentman Distributors in Elkton. He also had several donations from businesses in the southern part of the county, including $500 from TD Enterprises in Earleville, $400 from First Choice Concrete in Earleville, and a $300 donation from the Chesapeake Inn in Chesapeake City.

Republicans contributing  $440 each for entry fees for the golf event included Chris Zeauskas, whose campaign in the GOP primary for 2nd District county commissioner previously received donations from Democrat Sutton;  Michael Halter, a GOP primary candidate for State’s Attorney; and Will Davis, who ran as a Republican candidate for State’s Attorney four years ago. Halter and Davis also participated in an earlier golf fundraiser.


   He raised an additional $1,200, and had expenses of $1,537.  His largest expense was $1,095 for a full page ad in the Cecil Whig. 

   Adding in his $2,231 carryover bank balance from his last report, he ended up with $1,894 cash in the bank.

   DeWitt’s fundraising came from individual and business donors, with no new fundraising events. White Horse Apartments in Perryville contributed $400 while Wright’s Auto in Elkton gave $300.


  The last-minute entrant into the Democratic primary had been all but invisible on the campaign trail but surfaced with a fundraiser event in Port Deposit. But the $2,056 costs of the event were more than the $1,985 it raised from  ticket purchases.  Gerczak, a former Baltimore City police officer, received a $500  Political Action Committee donation from the Fraternal Order of Police, Baltimore City Lodge 3.

  He had no campaign printing expenses but did receive an in-kind donation of $300 worth of signs and pamphlets from Donald Allen of North East. He has $429  cash on hand in his bank account.

Republican Primary Candidates:


The pre-primary campaign finance report that was due to be filed Sept. 3 has not yet been filed, according to the state Board of Elections website. The Board has assessed a late fee/fine of $40 as of Thursday, Sept. 9.


   Slater continued to pick up the pace of his campaign, with new fundraising and contributions totaling $3,785 since the previous pre-primary report he filed in early August. Most of his funds came from a dinner he hosted at the Hack’s Point fire hall in Earleville. Despite the southern Cecil County location of the event, most of the ticket purchasers were from the northern part of the county, as well as purchasers from Pennsylvania and Harford County. However, direct donations to his campaign in the latest report showed the largest sum, $300, came from an Earleville resident, Pat Smart.

  After expenses of $1,986,  and a carry-over bank balance from his last campaign finance report, Slater had  net proceeds of $1,868 cash in the bank.


   He contributed another $120 to his own campaign, and after spending $307 on a newspaper ad, had just $33 cash in the bank.

Sheriff’s Race: Incumbent Janney Conserves Campaign Cash

September 3, 2010

    Incumbent Cecil County Sheriff Barry Janney, while facing two challengers in the Sept. 14 Republican primary, appears to be conserving his considerable campaign funds for a general election race against the winner of the Democratic primary for Sheriff.

    Janney raised $21,990 from January through August 10,  plus he raised another $25,250 in 2009, for a total of  $47,240, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state Board of Elections. Janney also had a carry-over balance from his last election campaign fund of $15,895, giving him a cumulative total  of $63,135 available for this year’s election season.

  But Janney’s fundraising falls short of the total raised by Democrat Chris Sutton, who raised $27,816 from January until August 10, on top of his 2009 fundraising of $38,313, for a total of $66,129, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state.  Sutton is facing a spirited challenge for the Democratic nomination for Sheriff from Robert “Skip” DeWitt. (See Cecil Times report on Sutton here: 

 Janney’s most prominent challenger in the Republican primary is Dan Slater, who has raised a total of $13,770.  But, after expenses, Slater only had $69 in the bank as of August 10, according to state elections reports. (See Cecil Times report on Slater’s fundraising here: )

  Despite his GOP primary opposition, Janney has conserved a substantial part of his campaign funds, apparently looking forward to the November general election. Even after spending of $29,530 from January to August 10 and campaign costs of $14,268 in 2009, Janney still had $19,337 cash on hand in the bank as of August 10.  (Sutton had just $24 in the bank as of the August 10 closing date of the first pre-primary report filed with the state.) Janney’s largest campaign materials expenses — $9,327– have been for billboards promoting his candidacy, and he has paid in advance to keep billboards up through the general election, the reports show.

  In past election campaigns, Janney has raised as much as $100,000, with much of it raised through golf fundraisers. Janney has continued to hold golf fundraising events in this election season, as well as hosting a $100 a ticket seafood buffet at the Wellwood. [He has scheduled another golf fundraiser for Sept. 10, which should yield another boost for his campaign balance.]

  Janney had mostly larger donations and ticket purchases, rather than a lot of small contributions, and quite a few of his donors live outside the county or out of state.

    His largest individual donor is also his campaign chairman: Harry Hammond, who has contributed a total of $1,679. Janney also received a $2,000 donation from a business, Covenant Cove Marina,  in Chesapeake City; $1,000 from Ken Graybeal of North East; $1,000 from Phillip Farmer, of Elkton; $800 from Duane Rhine, of Baltimore; and $500 from Upper Chesapeake Flex One, (related to the Stewart enterprises) of York, Pa.

   Businesses associated with Cecil County Commissioner Brian Lockhart, a Democrat, also donated to the Janney campaign.  Cecil Bank, where Lockhart is a member of the Board of Directors, donated $600 and Monterey Refuse Services, Inc., of Nottingham, Pa,  which Lockhart owns, provided $800.  Lockhart personally donated $600 as part of Janney’s September, 2009 golf fundraiser, bringing the total of Lockhart-related donations to $2,000. Lockhart was the chairman of Janney’s past campaigns but gave up that position when he ran for County Commissioner in 2006.

  Janney has established a detailed website, , which includes a comprehensive overview of his accomplishments while Sheriff. He cited as a key benchmark the planning for expansion and renovation of the county detention center. Ground was broken for the $31 million project a few days ago. Half of its costs will be paid for by state grants. Janney said the project came out of a planning process he led with his staff, beginning in his first term, to create a long-range master plan for corrections needs through the year 2030.

  UPDATE: In an interview with Cecil Times, Janney said he had decided to conserve  his campaign funds in anticipation of a general election contest because he did not want to “have to go back to people again and again in these hard economic times.” He said he decided after the last election to continue his tradition of an annual golf fundraiser in the fall as a way to slowly but steadily build his campaign account so that people could give smaller donations over time. He said that after his golf event this month,  he expects his campaign will have raised a total of about $70,000.

  “We’re all in the same boat,” he said of the economy’s impact on campaign fundraising. “Its hard to ask anyone for money.”  He said he had built up name recognition over his career as Sheriff and had been “blessed with a large group of loyal supporters” who have continued to support his campaign despite the economy.

   Janney said he felt he had paced his campaign and its fundraising and did not jump into the fray too early. “You can jump out too early and burn yourself out” with the voters, he said.

    As to which Democratic candidate in that party’s primary he would prefer to run against, if he wins his own party primary, Janney said: “It doesn’t really matter to me.” He said it would be “up to the people to decide” which candidate has the best experience and qualifications.  “We’ve done a lot of good things,” he said of his administration.

Sheriff’s Race: Sutton Out-Fundraises Janney, but Cupboard is Bare

September 2, 2010

   Chris Sutton, candidate for Cecil County Sheriff in the Democratic primary, has achieved what some might have considered impossible a year ago when he declared his candidacy: he raised more campaign funds than the incumbent Republican, Sheriff Barry Janney, long a local legend for his big-bucks political campaigns, according to reports filed Aug. 17 with the state Board of Elections.

   Sutton raised $27,816 from January until August 10, on top of his 2009 fundraising of $38,313, for a total of $66,129, according to reports filed with the state. In contrast, Janney raised $21,990 since January,  plus he raised another $25,250 in 2009, for a total of  $47,240. Janney also had a carry-over balance from his last election campaign fund of $15,895, but even with that large cushion, his cumulative total available for this year’s election –$63,135– was still short of Sutton’s total, according to the state reports. [Cecil Times will file a separate report on Janney’s fundraising.]

    Sutton’s impressive fundraising efforts took a few pages out of Janney’s political  playbook: golf fundraisers. Most of his campaign funds stem from golf events, but he has also hosted a variety of  venues, from a down-home dinner and silent auction in Cecilton to a large pig roast event and a dinner-dance with an auction that featured some of the most unusual items ever seen at a local political fundraiser, such as an autographed picture of Gene Simmons (the KISS band leader and reality TV show star) that raised $100 for the campaign. The auction also featured bidding on gift certificates, generally in the $25 to $50 range, provided by a wide variety of local businesses.

Sutton, a veteran deputy and a supervisor with the rank of Corporal in the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department, ran unsuccessfully in the general election against Janney four years ago and has been running a virtual campaign almost since the day after that election. Sutton started fundraising and spending campaign funds on flyers, billboards and a website last year, after formally filing for the race in July, 2009.  The early activity would normally scare off a potential primary challenger, especially since Sutton has a high profile and name recognition from the last campaign. But nothing is “normal” about Cecil County politics this year.

   Sutton had the Democratic field to himself until Robert “Skip” DeWitt, another veteran deputy and the son of the late former Sheriff Jack DeWitt, suddenly entered the Democratic primary on May 22 of this year.  As a result, Sutton has had to put resources into the primary campaign that he would otherwise have been able to put aside for the general election. (Another Democrat, William T. Gerczak, was a last-minute filer and has been largely a no-show on the campaign trail.) Cecil Times reported previously on DeWitt’s fundraising here:

   Despite all the campaign money that came in, Sutton has been spending it almost as fast as the money is raised. As the Cecil Times reported previously on his January campaign finance report here:  Sutton spent heavily on printing, billboard rentals and other start-up costs of the campaign, including his impressive website,  He has continued to pour out the campaign spending in the past few months, with the result that his “total bank account balance” or cash on hand was just $23.72 on August 10, according to his campaign finance report.

   Sutton told Cecil Times that he has held another fundraiser since the cut-off date for the state Elections Board report and said he will show a profit of $7,000 to $8,000 for the event. (Yet another deadline for filing campaign finance reports with the state is coming up this week and will reflect fundraising and expenditures by candidates since August 10.)

   The Sutton campaign has benefited from donations from Cecil County FOP Lodge 2, which represents deputies in the Sheriff’s Department.   Lodge 2 and its Political Action Committee reported donations totaling $1,190 to Sutton’s campaign this year and the Lodge also donated the Gene Simmons picture as well as other pictures (including John Travolta and Toby Keith) for a total of $500 of in-kind donations for a campaign auction. The FOP Lodge 124 representing Elkton town officers purchased $300 in tickets to Sutton fundraisers and sponsored a golf hole for $400.

   Sutton also received a $250 donation from Cecil Bank plus the bank sponsored a golf hole for $400. Some Republican names also show up on the roster: Michael Halter, who is running in the GOP primary for State’s Attorney, and Will Davis, an unsuccessful GOP candidate for State’s Attorney in the last election, dusted off the golf clubs, with Halter chipping in $400 and Davis $300.

  Contributors and ticket purchasers represent a broad cross- section of individuals and local businesses, with no one geographic area or industry dominating the roster.

  In an interview with The Cecil Times, Sutton was pleased to learn that he had out-raised Janney so far in the campaign season. “I hadn’t realized that,” he said. ” I think it is great that people have been willing to support us like that in these tough economic times.”

   Sutton said the late entry of DeWitt into the primary had forced his campaign to “adapt” and re-focus its aim on the primary. “Yes, we had to raise more and spend more than  we would have liked to,” he said. “We’ve been trying not to put the cart before the horse,” he said, and he has told his campaign supporters to focus on the primary now and then think about a general election campaign later.

   He said he was pleased that his campaign has struck a balance between old-fashioned grassroots campaigning and modern Internet-savvy political tools. He has had a clever website, with a rolling tickertape listing newspaper crime news headlines,  since early in the campaign and he has long had a presence on Facebook and Twitter social networking sites. “It’s the 21st Century; you have to reach people in new ways.”

    Sutton said he wants to stay focused on the primary in the final days leading up to the Sept. 14 election. But if he wins the primary, he said he would be ready to jump into a general election contest and expected to hold  a fund-raising dinner.

    Since he already has his campaign infrastructure, with website and billboards in place, a general election campaign could probably be carried off with modest additional fundraising.

Sheriff’s Race: Skip DeWitt Runs Slow but Steady, with $ in the Bank

August 30, 2010

   Robert “Skip” DeWitt has been running a low-key, door-to-door campaign for the Democratic nomination for Cecil County Sheriff and his campaign fund-raising and spending reflects a back-to-basics style. Some donors may be hedging their bets on his prospects in the primary against his much better-financed rival, Chris Sutton.

    DeWitt was a late entrant into the Democratic primary campaign, while Sutton has been officially campaigning for more than a year. DeWitt’s recent campaign finance report to the state Board of Elections shows he has raised $7,275 and spent $5,044, leaving him with  $2,231 cash on hand. That’s a lot more than Sutton had in the bank– just $24– according to his campaign report,  despite the fact that Sutton has raised a total of $66,129 for his campaign.

 [The Cecil Times will be posting  a separate report on Sutton’s campaign finance filings.]

   DeWitt’s spending report reflects the style of his campaign: just printing for yard signs, a dozen campaign shirts for volunteers, and the costs of a modest pit beef fundraiser. He has spent a total of $5,044. No billboards and just one small newspaper ad to promote his fundraiser. In the final few weeks before the Sept. 14 primary, DeWitt could tap into his bank balance for some last-minute signs or ads.

   DeWitt has received $4,775 in direct contributions and earned $2,500 from purchases of fundraiser tickets. He received two large donations of $1,000 each from Fay Weaver of Elkton and Larry Dales, of Naples, Fla. Weaver is the president of Weaver’s Liquors on Route 40 and in the past has given small donations to other Democratic candidates. We found no local connection for Dales, just a picture of him visiting a Florida tribal casino as a customer that was published in a Florida newspaper.

  [UPDATE: DeWitt told The Cecil Times that Dales was the chief deputy to his father, the late Jack DeWitt, who served for many years as Cecil County sheriff. “He’s an old family friend and we have stayed in touch over the years,” DeWitt said.]

  DeWitt’s fundraising includes mostly small donations  and ticket purchases from individuals and local businesses.

  But we found an interesting both sides donation. DeWitt received $200 from Real Trust Associates, of North East. That real estate firm is owned by Norm Wehner, who is well-known in local Republican and realty circles, and his wife.  But Norm Wehner also personally donated a total of $200 to incumbent Republican Sheriff Barry Janney in this election season. Wehner has routinely contributed to local Republican candidates in past elections but state records show no  previous donations to Democrats.

  UPDATE: DeWitt told Cecil Times that he and Wehner have been friends for about 25 years and that “he believes in me and in my plans for the Sheriff’s Department.”  DeWitt added that he expected he would receive “many more donations from Republicans” after the primary.]

For DeWitt, the primary is make-or-break and most political pundits would urge him to pour his remaining campaign funds into the final days of the primary contest, with the expectation that if he were to score an upset in the primary, donors would come out of the woodwork to support him in a general election contest.

 But DeWitt has been running his own style of campaigning, following in the footsteps of his late father, who used to take his son on the campaign trail and focused on making a personal connection with voters.  DeWitt has been going door-to-door with family members, covering a wide swath of the county with personal contacts. But in a concession to the modern era, Dewitt has established a campaign website, that reflects his modest campaign style and he is also on Facebook.

[UPDATE: DeWitt said that last weekend he knocked on over 500 doors in the county and is averaging 100 or so homes a night. “I’ve already worn through one pair of sneakers,” he said with a laugh.

   He said he is deliberately holding back some of his campaign funds for a general election campaign and has already paid for most of his advertising that will be printed through the primary. “The day after I win the primary, I’m going to be ready to go forward,” he said. “I’m looking for victory in November.”]

Sheriff’s Race: Slater Picks up the Pace; Latecomers Penniless

August 27, 2010

  Dan Slater, a candidate for Cecil County Sheriff in the Republican primary,  picked up the pace of his fundraising and broadened his financial appeal to voters throughout the county in recent months. But going into the Sept. 14 primary, his campaign is all but broke and poorly positioned for a general election campaign.

  Slater is the leading Republican primary challenger to incumbent Sheriff Barry Janney, who in the past has raised up to six figures in his  well-funded campaigns.

  Slater got an early start on his uphill battle last year and in January filed his first campaign finance report. As  The Cecil Times reported in January here: Slater’s initial fundraising report showed he had concentrated his fundraising efforts in his North East area homebase. He raised a total of $5,965 but spent $4,813, leaving him with nearly $1,152 in the bank.

  In his latest campaign report, Slater has picked up the pace, and geography, of his campaign fundraising. Since January, he raised $7,805, including $3,435 in direct contributions and $4,370 in tickets sold to fundraising events. 

 Among his events were a barbeque held in Crystal Beach, in the southern Cecil County community of Earleville. That event scored him some political points, if not a big cash benefit, since southern Cecil residents often feel slighted by candidates running countywide.    Slater also held a bullroast at the Wellwood in Charlestown and raffled off a shotgun to raise money for his campaign.

  The largest donor to the Slater campaign is RKB Investments, LLC,  of Rising Sun. The business entity donated $200 in July, after previously donating $1,000 to the campaign as listed in Slater’s January report to the State Board of Elections. Slater also received a $500 donation from PEPCO, Inc., listed at a Water St., Charlestown address; and $200 from AMNF, Inc., of Elkton.

Slater has had a solid presence around the county with yard signs and larger signs along key highways. But that presence doesn’t come without a price.  In his latest financial statement, he reported spending $8,887 on printing, campaign materials and the costs of putting on fundraising events.

As a result, Slater has just $69.01 in the bank. That figure, about the cost of a full tank of gas in an SUV, gives him nothing to fall back on for a general election campaign against a Democrat if he were to pull off an upset victory in the GOP primary. The late primary this year gives candidates little time to reinvigorate their campaign accounts before the November general election.

 The winner of the Republican primary for Sheriff will face the winner of the Democratic primary in November. The leading candidates in the Democratic primary are Chris Sutton– a corporal in the Sheriff’s Department who ran unsuccessfully against Janney in the general election four years ago– and Robert “Skip” DeWitt, a longtime deputy and the son of the late Jack DeWitt, the widely popular Sheriff of the county for many years.

  Among other lesser-known candidates, campaign funds are short to non-existant.

 Al Michael, of North East, a former state trooper and former police chief in Rising Sun, was a late entrant into the Republican primary but has been raising his profile a bit by peppering the county with a single-spaced letter outlining his views on the issues and he appeared at a public candidate’s forum. His bare-bones campaign has been largely self-financed, with $1,911 out of his pocket to pay for signs, printing and ads. He did hold a fundraiser with $1,320 in tickets sold, but expenses of his fundraiser, at the Nauti-Goose, almost equaled the funds raised from ticket sales. So after raising $3,231, and spending $3,011, he has a cash balance of just $220 in the bank.

  The last candidate to file for Sheriff, William T. Gerczak, a Democrat from Rising Sun, filed an affadavit stating that he had not raised or spent over $1,000 on his campaign. Gerczak, a former Baltimore city police officer, filed a few hours before the July 6 deadline. There has been much speculation whether his candidacy was put forward as a “spoiler” to split opposition to Sutton in the Democratic primary and draw votes away from DeWitt, who has emerged as a strong challenger to Sutton in the primary.

Cecil Times will be posting separate articles on the Janney, Sutton and DeWitt campaigns in upcoming days. For Janney’s and Sutton’s reports, we needed to go out and buy new ink cartridges for our computer printer and are thinking of adding arm lifts of their weighty reports to our exercise routine.

Teaser: Campaign Finance Reports Tell Some Tales

August 18, 2010

  We know our readers look forward to Cecil Times reports and analysis of local candidates’ campaign finance reports and we are hard at work on searching and reviewing the latest pre-primary reports that were due to be filed with the state Board of Elections this week. The state Board and the computer databases have been swamped and the reports of some important candidates who have filed are not yet available online. We will be doing detailed reports in all key races in the county and District 36 state contests in the course of the next few days.

  But we thought we’d tantalize you with a few nuggets, to be mined more fully later.

Sheriff’s Race:

— Incumbent Republican Barry Janney is, as usual, well-financed but his campaign pockets are nowhere near as full as in past campaigns when he had far less competition. He has raised nearly $21,000 so far this year, adding on to a carry-over balance from 2009 of  $26,877. After expenses, he has $19,337 left in cash on hand to carry him through his contested Republican primary.

–GOP challenger Dan Slater gets the gold star for most improved fundraising, expanding his reach to southern Cecil County with a Crystal Beach barbecue and other events. His latest report shows he raised $7,805 since January. He began the year with a cash balance of $1,151 but after expenses, he is just about tapped out. He has just $69.01 cash in the bank.

–Democratic candidate Robert “Skip” DeWitt has made a strong showing after entering the primary late in the game, after rival Chris Sutton had been fundraising for over a year.  DeWitt has raised $7,275, and after expenses still has $2,230 cash on hand.

  Sutton’s report has been filed but was not yet available online.

In other races:

–County Commissioner Brian Lockhart (D-3) is a major bankroller of Democratic Commissioner Wayne Tome’s campaign for re-election in Dist. 4.

–Wonder of wonders, Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) has actually filed his latest finance report on time! He has been levied late fee fines repeatedly in the past by the State Elections Board, in one case for filing well over a year late. This year,  Smigiel has had to rely heavily on personal loans to his campaign as well as some political action committees and out-of-district donors.

We’ll be back with much more, soon. But first we have some unfinished business, following up on the League of Women Voters candidate forum from Tuesday night.

BREAKING NEWS: New Sheriff Candidate, GOP Committee Wars

July 6, 2010

  It’s been a very busy morning at the Board of Elections office, with many new candidate filings– and a few surprises– for this year’s elections before tonight’s 9 p.m.  filing deadline.

 NEW SHERIFF CANDIDATE: Just when we thought the ballot couldn’t get any more crowded, William T. Gerczak, of Rising Sun, filed Monday as a candidate in the Democratic primary for Sheriff.  According to a Cecil Times check of court records, there is a Baltimore City police officer by that name who has appeared in court in prosecution of drug cases in the city. No home phone was listed nor did he give any phone number in his filings with the state Board of Elections.  The Democratic primary is already crowded with Chris Sutton, a current corporal in the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department and unsuccessful candidate in 2006, and Robert “Skip” DeWitt, a long-time deputy and the son of popular former county sheriff Jack DeWitt.

SCHOOL BOARD: Donna Zane, a member of the county’s first elected school board who had said she would not run again, suddenly filed for re-election Tuesday morning, according to state election records.  Zane, of Rising Sun, filed in the 4th district school board race in which Bill Herold, a controversial member of the old appointed school board, has declared his candidacy for election. Also running in that district is Thomas Wesley of Elkton, a retired school principal. Another late entry, June S. Reasin of Conowingo, filed July 1.

REPUBLICAN CENTRAL COMMITTEE: It’s been a minute-by-minute update as allies of State Senator E.J. Pipkin (R-36) and Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) troop on in to the elections board to file for the 9 slots on the county’s Republican Central Committee. County Commissioner Jim Mullin, R-1st, from the Earleville area, filed this morning, as did Mike Dawson, a Republican candidate for county commissioner in the 4th District.  Both Mullin and Dawson are strongly aligned with the Pipkin-Smigiel camp.

   In addition, the Cecil County Young Republicans Club, another bastion of  the Pipkin-Smigiel powerbase, has fielded three other candidates for the GOP committee. One of those candidates, Michael W. Dunn of Rising Sun, has also filed in the Republican primary for 3rd District County Commissioner. Dunn is a longtime legislative aide on the payroll of Del. Smigiel.

    As the day wears on, we’re sure there will be even more candidates filing in what is shaping up as a power struggle between the current Central Committee and the Pipkin-Smigiel forces trying to gain control over the party structure in Cecil County.

   Cecil Times will continue to file updates as news events unfold throughout the day.

“Skip” DeWitt Files as Democrat for Cecil County Sheriff

May 24, 2010

   The already hotly contested race for Cecil County Sheriff in the 2010 election has ramped up a notch with the candidacy filing of Robert ( Skip ) DeWitt, a current Deputy and the son of a very popular former Sheriff, to challenge fellow Democrat Chris Sutton in the primary election this year. Skip DeWitt’s filing late Friday afternoon took Democratic Party members by surprise, after his previous declaration that he would not run this year.

  DeWitt, 47, a resident of Chesapeake City, filed his candidacy papers at the local Elkton office of the state Board of Elections late Friday afternoon, according to a  Board spokeswoman. In Monday interviews with The Cecil Times, DeWitt confirmed his filing as a candidate and outlined his biography. He said he has been a  Cecil County Deputy for 19 years and currently holds the rank of Deputy First Class, assigned to the support services unit, handling evictions and court services. He also previously served  for 10 years in the patrol division and also worked in criminal investigations, he said, including a brief stint working with the drug task force.

   Sutton has a higher rank– Corporal– and supervisory experience, serving as road patrol supervisor.

  DeWitt’s sudden filing took many local Democrats by surprise, after he initially told the county’s Democratic committee this winter that he would file but then a month later he recanted and said he would not enter the primary against Sutton.  Sutton filed as a candidate last summer and was the unsucessful Democratic nominee in 2006 against incumbent Republican Sheriff Barry Janney, Sr.  DeWitt also acknowledged in the interview that he had posted on an Internet website that he would not run this year and would remain “neutral” in the 2010 election.

 What changed? DeWitt said that initially it appeared that fellow Democrats were “satisfied” with Sutton’s candidacy. But he said that as he spoke with many Cecil County residents, they were “not satisfied with these candidates– and I was not satisfied.”

   DeWitt said he believes his greatest strength as a candidate, and as Sheriff, would be that he is “easy to talk to” and that he would be “the best communicator” with county residents. (So far, he has not established a website or social media  presence on sites such as Twitter.) DeWitt also said that he is dedicated to the Sheriff’s position, it would be his “life”  and he is “in it for the long haul” for many years to come.

  Asked about his differences with fellow Democrat Sutton, DeWitt emphasized that he was  a “better communicator” and would hold town hall-type meetings to discuss crime problems with local residents. Asked about his differences with incumbent Republican Janney, DeWitt initially paused and said his top priority was the party primary. When pressed, he added that he has communication skills with departmental employees and would “stand by them” on salary and benefit issues. 

 Janney has been criticized by many deputies for joining with the county Commissioners in opposing binding arbritration in salary and other disputes  between the county and Deputies. After a  legislative battle in Annapolis, which pitted several Republican members of the state delegation against the County Commissioners, the Commissioners largely prevailed on a bill that provides collective bargaining but non-binding mediation for Sheriff’s Department employees.

   The sudden filing by DeWitt as a Democratic candidate for Sheriff has many Deputies and Democrats scratching their heads–and wondering whether his step is really a distraction to give Sutton a hard time in the Democratic primary. Janney is already facing two Republican primary opponents–Dan Slater, a current Deputy, and Al Michael, a former state trooper and ousted police chief of Rising Sun.  Janney, who announced his re-election bid several months ago, has had a so far non-existent campaign but will have to pay attention to and spend campaign funds on a crowded primary. With a previously clear field in the primary, Sutton had an advantage to focus on the November general election, presumably running against Janney.

  But with Skip DeWitt’s entry into the Democratic primary, Sutton will have a credible challenger. Many older voters remember Jack DeWitt, his father who served as Sheriff from 1974-1990 and was very popular with voters.

   Asked for comment upon Skip DeWitt’s filing, Sutton told The Cecil Times: “At least there’s another deputy that realizes that the current Sheriff isn’t doing a good job.”