PRINCESS ANNE — Primary election season is now on as early voting at Somerset County Technical High School ends Thursday and election day is Tuesday, July 19 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (except on Smith Island where voting at Ewell School ends at 3 p.m.).
Due to Maryland’s closed primary system only voters who are Democrats or Republicans vote, and sample ballots by party and district were mailed weeks ago. The mailing also noted where balloting will occur as several polling places open before COVID-19’s outbreak in 2020 will not be reopening this time around.
Mail-in ballots can continue to be requested in-person at the Board of Elections office in Princess Anne or online before midnight Friday. These may be deposited in official drop boxes located in front of the County Office Complex, SCTHS, or Crisfield High School.
The primary election will pare down candidates by party for both federal and state offices to run head to head in the Nov. 8 general election. That includes U.S. Senator, Congressman, Governor and Comptroller. Locally it will be Republicans alone who decide the next Somerset County Sheriff and County Commissioner representing District 2 as no Democrats filed.
Marion Lee Brumley was first to file for Sheriff as a Republican last September, and then in November Sheriff Ronnie Howard changed parties, filing for his third term in February as a Republican.
A former state trooper, Sheriff Howard served as chief deputy for former Sheriff Bobby Jones before being elected in 2014. He cites school safety as a priority and is working with the County Commissioners and Board of Education to have school resource officers at all mainland schools this fall — with a decision on that likely this week.
His accomplishments include adding an additional criminal investigator position, reactivating the marine and K-9 units, starting an Explorer Post for students and holding Citizen Police Academy programs. To keep the department competitive with surrounding agencies there have been pay raises for deputies who are now eligible to be part of the Law Enforcement Officers Pension System (LEOPS).
Sheriff Howard has completed a strategic plan that looks ahead five years and provides clear direction and continuity of the Sheriff’s Office and to improve its service to the community. It includes four goals: preventing, reducing and solving crime; roadway patrols; supporting the citizenry; and retention, recruitment and training with each category broken down with by the personnel responsible, the timeline and funding source.
That plan will be further shared with the community as he continues his open-door policy for the public. He’s been endorsed by several sheriff’s across Maryland, and also among his supporters is former Crisfield Police David Dalfonso.
Challenger Lee Brumley not only was a Sheriff’s Office deputy but an officer and former chief of the Pocomoke City Police Department which adds to his experience. He is committed to increased safety for children and wants multi-agency drills conducted and more communication with the school board.
Although it will the GOP that decides who is elected, Mr. Brumley wants Democrats to know he respects their concerns and is for positive change on a bipartisan basis. He wrote, “My hope as Sheriff, if elected, is to fairly serve ALL of our citizens and not make divisive decisions that divide us further.”
Republican voters in District 2 will select either Caleb Shores or Darryl Webster to succeed retiring Democrat Rex Simpkins — all from Mt. Vernon. Mr. Shores was elected to the Board of Education in 2020 and filed for the current campaign in January. He describes himself as a “We the People First, Christian Conservative Republican.”
His goals include taking a hard line on unconstitutional state mandates, strengthening the Sheriff’s Office, and finding new ways to fund the county to reduce the burden on taxpayers. A small business owner, he would also like to see the meetings moved to 4 p.m. so working people can attend.
Mr. Webster is a retired assistant warden at ECI who operates Blowin’ Smoke BBQ. He filed in April and on a Friends of Darryl Webster for County Commissioner Facebook page he expressed good response to his campaign so far.
Commissioner Simpkins is completing his fourth term on the board and did not seek re-election.
Voting on Tuesday in addition to Ewell Elementary and SCTHS is at Princess Anne Elementary, Crisfield High and Washington High. Smith Island voters will cast a provisional ballot which will be taken to the mainland and qualified and counted at the Board of Elections office, which is why the cutoff time is 3 p.m.