On Wednesday, August 23, 2006, the League of Women Voters of St. Marys County sponsored one of two planned forums for local political candidates before the upcoming primary election. The event was held at the Public Library in Lexington Park. Audience members were able to meet and greet local candidates from 6:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. The forums began at 7 p.m. and ran until 9 p.m.
The event hosted two panels which played to a full room. The LWV noted that because of time constraints, only candidates in contested races were invited to speak. However, all candidates were invited to attend, talk to people during the meet-and-greet, and hand out campaign literature.
The first panel featured the Democratic candidates for the office of Sheriff. Incumbent David Zylak opposes newcomer Kevin Somerville in the upcoming Democratic primary election. The Republican candidate, Tim Cameron, faces no competition from other Republican candidates and thus did not participate in the forum.
The second panel featured the candidates for the office of President of the St. Marys County Commissioners. All five declared candidates for the office were in attendance. They were: Merl Evans (D), Michael L. Hewitt (D), Jack Russell (D), Joseph B. Bush, Sr. (R), and Dennis Jack Hubscher (R).
The sessions were divided in opening statements followed by a series of questions that were submitted by members of the audience and selected by the LWV staff. Each candidate had up to 2 minutes to respond to each question. Each candidate then provided a closing statement up to 1 minute long.
We have videos of the Commissioner President session. We have split the videos up into segments so you can just view the one(s) you are interested in.
Opening Statement: http://images.somd.com/news/2006_elections/lwv-smc-08-23/opener.avi (46.7 MB)
Q1: Low Income Housing: What plans do you have to address the lack of low income housing in St. Mary's County?
http://images.somd.com/news/2006_elections/lwv-smc-08-23/Q1.avi (30.8 MB)
Q2: Jail Overcrowding: How would you address the problem of overcrowding at the county jail?
Note: Sheriff Zylak who spoke earlier provided the following stats on the overcrowding conditions:
* The specified capacity is 230 persons.
br>* The average daily capacity is 275-280 persons.
* The capacity can reach 325 persons on weekends.
http://images.somd.com/news/2006_elections/lwv-smc-08-23/Q2.avi (23.3 MB)
Q3: Growth: How would you propose to control growth in St. Mary's County? Why is our impact fee so much lower than Charles and Calvert County?
http://images.somd.com/news/2006_elections/lwv-smc-08-23/Q3.avi (40.5 MB)
Q4: School Spending: How would you increase the amount spent per pupil in St. Mary's County?
http://images.somd.com/news/2006_elections/lwv-smc-08-23/Q4.avi (30.2 MB)
Q5: Chesapeake Bay & Tributaries: What do you think the Commissioners could do to support the Maryland initiative to improve the quality of the Chesapeake Bay?
http://images.somd.com/news/2006_elections/lwv-smc-08-23/Q5.avi (27.7 MB)
Closing Statement: http://images.somd.com/news/2006_elections/lwv-smc-08-23/closer.avi (28 MB)
Since you can not read the name cards in the video, the candidates as they appear from left to right are:
M. Evans (D)
M. Hewitt (D)
J. Russell (D)
J. Bush, Sr. (R)
D. Hubscher (R)
The videos are encoded in DIVX. If you don't have the codec, you can download it from www.divx.com.
Another forum is planned for tonight at the public library in Lexington Park. At 7:00 p.m., the Democratic candidates for the Maryland House of Delegates will speak. Clare Whitbeck and John Wood, Jr. from District 29A, and John Bohanan and James P. Cusick, Sr. from District 29B, are scheduled to attend. At 8:00 p.m. candidates for Judge of the Circuit Court, District 7 will begin their panel. Shane Mattingly, George R. Sparling, and Michael Stamm are scheduled to participate.