Weighing in on the Salisbury races

On Tuesday, Salisbury voters will head to the polls to elect their mayor and two of five City Council members in the last partial election before changes in 2015 would require all Council members and the mayor be elected simultaneously. So in essence we are picking some of these Council members and mayor for a half-term to be completed in the fall of 2015.

Honestly, it probably doesn’t matter who gets elected in District 1 because they will be advocates for the city’s minority population getting theirs rather than necessarily the benefits of the city as a whole. I heard a lot of complaining from the three women who are running about what the city didn’t do for their district, and while we all want the benefit of good jobs their district in particular is the product of people who made a lot of bad life choices. We also all want a thriving minority community, but it should be in the context of a thriving community as a whole. Moreover, in 2015 that district will double in size and become home to two Council members if the plans remain the same.

But while I can dismiss the District 1 race quickly, I have a lot to say about the mayor’s race.

In 2009, Jim Ireton told us that help was on the way. Well, the city isn’t exactly thriving, and it’s spent a lot of money just to maintain its place on the treadmill. Furthermore, it appears that even more money will have to be spent thanks to government mandates to clean up Chesapeake Bay – despite the fact millions have already been spent on what was supposed to be a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant. Meanwhile, Jim touts a lot of “accomplishments” which any halfway decent mayor should have been able to do in his sleep. This is what Jim lists on his website as “Improving Salisbury”:

Third Friday, The city’s first Latino Festival, lowering business capacity fees, people returning to downtown, the city dog park, improvements at Bateman/Onley Road. These are just a few of the important improvements to Salisbury that have happened while Jim has been Mayor. Coalitions across Salisbury have worked with Jim and city staff to move projects forward. Jim led the way on the city’s comprehensive plan, fought for and won a 60% reduction in business capacity fees, and hasn’t raised property taxes his entire time in office.

Jim has aggressively used the city’s revolving loan fund program to help businesses like Mojo’s, and he’s ordered the demolition of five slum properties and worked to close and demolish the Thrift Travel Inn.

Well, no wonder MoJo’s donated to his campaign! I’m just surprised they didn’t max out. But when you think about it – is that a worthy resume of four years in office? Oh, and he claims violent crime dropped 41 percent and he hired the first female chief of police.

Read more here.

The $19 Million Dollar Question in Maryland

Over the past few days mayoral candidate Joe Albero has taken to his Salisbury News website – you know, the one with no authority line – and thrice bashed incumbent Jim Ireton for scheming to raise city taxes and fees by $19 million. But is Albero correct in blaming Ireton?

Yes and no. One could extend blame to the party Ireton is a member of and the politician he supported twice for President for signing an Executive Order compelling the federal government and states to increase their tempo in restoring Chesapeake Bay. It allowed the EPA great latitude in determining a course of action (like these marching orders show – orders which include the stick of possibly “withholding, conditioning, or reallocating federal grant funds”) and established a “pollution diet” which had little to do with maintaining the economic viability of the region but more to do with pie-in-the-sky goals for the state of the Bay twelve years hence. This supposedly would “ensure that all pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025.” (Yet, as I’ll discuss in a bit, that won’t be the end of the road. Far from it.)

Thus, the state of Maryland became a greater participant in the effort – not that Governor Martin O’Malley, who Ireton also supported for election twice, was exactly going to be dragged kicking and screaming into the prospect of further power over and control of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay watershed population.

But it can be argued Ireton has his hands tied, and if Joe Albero wins? He still has to deal with it. As it turns out, this $76 million effort is just a portion of Salisbury’s share of costs to enact the Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan, lovingly presented to the EPA by the state of Maryland last year. This led to the mandate from the Maryland Department of the Environment for local officials to prepare a plan for Wicomico County:

As requested by MDE, each of the twenty‐three counties and Baltimore City were instructed to prepare a Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan that details / demonstrates how each jurisdiction will do their part in improving the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries across Maryland.

Read more here.

Lack of Depth in Salisbury Maryland Mayoral Race

The first press shots across the bow by Salisbury mayoral challenger Joe Albero came in a slickly produced press release decrying incumbent Jim Ireton for…not showing up at a boxing event.

When I saw the headline “Albero Supports Youth Sports Program” my first thought was, okay, where is he going to get the money to pay for it? Instead, the thin gruel I was subjected to went like this:

Salisbury mayoral candidate Joe Albero attended Saturday’s “Warriors of the Ring” event at the Main Street Gym. The event was in support of Main Street Gym’s youth boxing program. Albero and his wife Jennifer, along with other local businesspersons such as John Robinson and Danny Burt, were sponsors of Saturday’s event.

Albero stated, “The work that Hal Chernoff has done with our local youth is phenomenal! Boxing is a great sport which instills the values of hard work and discipline. These are the same traits which will help these young people succeed as adults.”

Albero lamented the absence of his opponent, incumbent mayor Jim Ireton. “I’m sorry that Jim wasn’t able to be here tonight. We were both asked to participate in tonight’s event. Regrettably, Jim felt that campaigning was more important than showing support for this great program and our area youth.”

Both candidates had been invited to participate in Saturday’s event. Ireton declined, stating that he was too busy campaigning for re-election.

So Jim Ireton decided not to show up at a boxing match in favor of “campaigning,” yet his opponent makes a campaign issue out of it. I think I’d be more worried if Ireton didn’t show up at a mayoral forum.

Read more here.

Joe Albero Announces Candidacy For Salisbury Mayor

Joe Albero files lawsuit vs. Mayor Ireton

In his line of work as a local news blogger and (ultra-conservative) provocateur, Joe Albero gets called lots of names he says can’t be published in a newspaper.

But he draws a line at being called a “Delaware blogger” — as Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton has learned.

Albero is seeking $200,000 from Ireton in damages related to the mayor’s twice calling him a First State resident at a recent news conference. The libel lawsuit, filed in Wicomico County Circuit Court in June, also accuses Ireton of making “defamatory statements” in telling the media that Albero lied about a prank phone call supposedly from the mayor.

Ireton declined to comment Wednesday for this report.

The lawsuit offers an ominous preview of next April’s mayoral election. No one has officially filed to run; Albero has publicly announced his candidacy, becoming a T-shirt-distributing, handshaking fixture at his downtown office and local events.

Albero alleges that Ireton called him a Delaware resident to raise questions about his eligibility to run for office.

City law dictates that candidates must be residents for at least one year before the election. Albero said he moved on March 24 from his home in Delmar, Del., to the second floor of his office on Salisbury’s Main Street.

Read more here.

Publicity Hound?

Originally I was going to use this item yesterday as part of the headquarters story, but on second thought I decided it deserved its own headline and post.

In five months beyond the November election, Salisbury voters will decide the fate of three of their leaders: District 1 Councilwoman Shanie Shields, District 2 Councilwoman Debbie Campbell, and Mayor Jim Ireton. I’m under the impression Shields won’t run again; the other two are presumably going to seek another four-year term.

You may recall that earlier this year I profiled a campaign kickoff by local realtor Adam Roop, for a yet-to-be-determined city elected office. But I hadn’t mentioned this effort by political gadfly and blogger Joe Albero – until today.

Now I understand my political advice is generally worth the price paid for it, but it seems to me that having shirts and bumper stickers will build name recognition but not give someone a reason to vote for you. As it stands right now, the website listed on the shirt simply redirects to his Salisbury News website, not a separate campaign site.

I can already see the comment now should Joe deign to add his two cents to this conversation, something along the line of “it’s my campaign, I know what I’m doing, you simply fail to understand my master plan to win this race.” Whatever – as I said, my advice is sometimes worth the price paid for it.

But if he’s as popular as his rhetoric makes him out to be, why would he be wheeling out a nearly full rack of shirts (presumably as a giveaway to supporters?) The shot was taken as he was leaving to go to another event, as Joe said to me.

I have a hard time taking Albero seriously as a candidate until I see a formal announcement and (as a Salisbury voter myself) his ideas on how to improve the city. Several of those I spoke with this afternoon felt similarly, preferring to keep their distance for the time being.

That didn’t have anything to do with the headquarters, nor will the local GOP be actively involved in the Salisbury city races because they’re non-partisan elections. Hence the reason I decided this should be a separate post. But I took the picture since Albero’s space was placed next to the GOP’s at the Farm and Home Show; aside from that, the Wicomico GOP has no official connection to the Albero mayoral campaign – or any other Salisbury one, for that matter.

Read more here.

Salisbury Blogger, Joe Albero, to Run for Mayor

Outspoken and sometimes controversial Salisbury blogger Joe Albero has decided to run for mayor in 2013.

Albero tells WGMD what brought him to make this decision:

Listen to the interview here.

Joe Albero For Mayor Of Salisbury? Publicity Stunt or Serious? What Say You.

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