A message from Mike Dunn, CEO & President:
These comments were made on August 24, 2020, by GSC President/CEO Mike Dunn regarding the selection process that is in place for choosing the next Wicomico County Executive.
Mr. Dunn delivered these comments on the steps of the Government Office Building in Downtown Salisbury. Also, making comments on the process were representatives from the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, the Wicomico NAACP, and the Wicomico GOP State Central Committee.
My name is Mike Dunn. I am the President/CEO of the Greater Salisbury Committee. I am joined, in the crowd, by many GSC members, and – as you will soon see and hear – by other community organizations. On behalf of GSC and our community partners, thank you for attending on August 24, 2020.
Four days ago, the Wicomico County Council convened a meeting to interview three people for the position of Wicomico County Executive. They met in open session, at the Civic Center. The public was invited to attend, and we applaud the Civic Center staff for making the venue a safe one, as we applaud the dedicated staff of PAC 14, who was there to record the interviews.
We also applaud the three citizens who threw their name into the ring to be the next County Executive: Dr. Michele Ennis, the former HR and Finance Director for the County; Dr. Rene Desmairis, a cardiologist who has been practicing in Salisbury since 1993; and Delegate Carl Anderton, a former Mayor of Delmar, and currently, the District 38B Representative in the Maryland General Assembly. Let’s give them a round of applause for their willingness to serve.
We are here today, with our community partners, NOT to support or critique any of the three candidates, or the choice that was made by the County Council. And let me be clear, this is NOT a rally for or against any of the three candidates. GSC looks forward to working with the next County Executive to help in any way we can.
We are here today because it has become obvious in the four days since the Council made its decision – as shockwaves have rattled the public – that two questions are looming rather large over the selection process:
And, what in the world just happened?
Today, we are here, as are our community partners, to talk about the selection process. Put simply: we believe it was flawed, and it did not serve the public well. Here are our concerns:
- We salute and applaud the Council for having PAC 14 on hand to tape the meeting. But we ask: Why wasn’t this meeting broadcast live, so that the citizens could see it and react in real time? Quite simply, not broadcasting the interviews live was a mistake. We believe the Council should have found a venue that could accommodate LIVE capabilities. During this pandemic, our local governments have done an amazing job coordinating their meetings so the public could watch them LIVE, often via Zoom. Yet, in this most important of meetings, the Council failed to find a venue that could allow the viewing public to watch the interviews in real time.
- The Council chose the next County Executive within minutes of concluding the interviews, and BEFORE most of the public had a chance to listen to the interviews, and before those in attendance at the Civic Center had a chance to offer comments.
- Three council members involved in the voting never said a word the entire night about why they were or were not supporting the two candidates who were nominated.
- This was, ultimately, a job interview. As most of us know, people who interview for jobs are not usually offered the job “on the spot.” The Council did NOT need to make its decision on Thursday night. But four of the Council members CHOSE to. The Council could have waited until the PAC 14 taping was aired and public reaction could have been gauged or received before making its decision. They CHOSE not to.
- There was not one question asked the other night about two of our most important community topics: agriculture and education.
- Two months ago, three council members: Larry Dodd, Joe Holloway, and Nicole Acle insisted that a decision on bringing public water to the SBY/Wicomico Airport be delayed until a full public hearing on the matter could be held. And yet, on Thursday, those three council members voted on this decision, without requesting a similar public vetting.
As a result of the flaws just outlined, GSC is recommending the following:
- That the County Council and County Executive appoint a Charter Review Committee
- That the public view the interviews – which are now available on the PAC 14 YouTube channel
- That the 3 council members who said nothing about why they did or did not support the two candidates, explain their votes.
- That the Council, at its next scheduled meeting on Tuesday, September 1st, allow public comments on the interviews at the top of their meeting, before they take the next step on the County Executive decision.
- That the Council – after hearing public comments at their next meeting – reconsider the Resolution that it passed on Thursday night. Short of that, we ask that the Council, which has until September 9th to make its decision, delay further action on this question until it listens to public comments at the September 1st