Acle, Scott square off in Wicomico District 2 election

District 2 voters will decide on Election Day who will represent them on the Wicomico County Council as a replacement for Mark Kilmer who gave up his seat in June 2019 to return to his native Idaho. 

Councilwoman Nicole Acle was appointed to the County Council last year.

For the past 14 months, Nicole Acle has filled the spot after she was appointed by County Council members, but under the terms in the County Charter, the county must hold a special election to allow voters to pick their representative for the next two years.

The 47-year-old Republican is being challenged by Brick Room owner Alex Scott, a Democrat, who previously ran for the District 2 seat, losing in a lopsided 2018 challenge to Kilmer.

District 2 includes a large, mostly rural area of the county’s west side, that includes Sharptown, Mardela Springs, Hebron, Whitehaven and parts of Salisbury near the east bank of the Wicomico River.

Alex Scott is seeking the Wicomico County Council’s District 2 seat for the second time in two years.

None of the other six County Council seats are not on this year’s ballot. All council members will face re-election in 2022.

Nicole Acle

In the 14 months since Acle was appointed to serve as the District 2 representative on the council, she has found herself at the center of several issues and was nearly the kingmaker in the battle to name a new County Executive.

Following Bob Culver’s passing in late July, Acle was a vocal booster of Dr. Rene Desmariais’ appointment as County Executive.

Acle’s husband, also a doctor, had been a former partner of Desmariais, which triggered an ethics complaint and eventual ruling that Acle could vote on the cardiologist’s nomination.

In a PAC 14 “One On One: election-edition interview, Acle said she felt Desmariais was the right person to help the county through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Desmariais was confirmed on a 4-3 vote, but formally declined the post just a few days later. Later, Acle voted “no” on John Psota’s ultimate selection as Acting County Executive.

Acle had little to say on PAC 14 about the selection, except that her no vote was against the process, not Psota himself.

“I think it has been a learning experience for all of us,” she said.

A resident of the West Nithsdale community in Salisbury, she is the first woman to serve on the council since Republican Stevie Prettyman held the same seat in 2014.

Acle is the owner of Medical Nutrition Therapies in Salisbury. She is a former Pennsylvania resident who has lived in Wicomico County for 19 years.

She has stated that public education will be her top priority as a county leader — she has three children in the public school system — followed by economic development and the environment.

She has been an aggressive questioner when school administrators have appeared before the council. She has said a key to improving education is to re-engage parents who have placed their youngsters into private schools.

Strengthening schools will lead to economic growth and will keep families in the county, she said.

A proponent of renovating Mardela Middle and High School, Acle said she was happy to play a role in getting the project back in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.

In addition to quality education, Acle said her main goals for the county are fiscal responsibility and public safety.

She is Board of Directors President for Habitat for Humanity of Wicomico County and a previous winner of the Maryland Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service.

Her campaign website is nicoleacle.com.

Alex Scott

The owner of The Brick Room on North Division Street in Downtown Salisbury, Scott lives in Mardela Springs and is regarded as one of Salisbury’s young and upcoming business professional leaders.

The district skews conservative and has only been held by Republicans, so Scott, a Democrat, is touting himself as a political moderate and someone who will work across party lines. A current newspaper advertisement lists by name 25 prominent local Republicans who support him.

Scott was an outspoken proponent of Delegate Carl Anderton’s selection to succeed Culver and has lobbed criticism of Acle’s involvement in the process.

“The selection process was rushed with all sorts of backroom shenanigans,” Scott said. “In the end, the best candidate was voted ‘no’ on twice — the least-qualified candidate was offered the job and then refused to accept it.”

If elected, Scott said he would like to reopen the selection process for a county executive. Psota is doing a great job, but the County Council should follow the charter, he said.

“Carl Anderton is hands down the best choice,” he said in the PAC 14 interview.

At 40 years old, Scott is a lifelong resident of the county, having graduated from Parkside High School in 1999. He studied History and Business at Salisbury University and has said an internship at Walt Disney World in Florida propelled him to a sales and business career. 

As the owner of a small business, Scott said he knows how hard it is to open a business and stay in business.

“Our government should make that easier. Period,” he said. “From reforming archaic liquor licenses to investing in tourism, our county government can do more for our businesses.”

Like Acle, he is committed to improving local schools and is a proponent of renovating Mardela High School.

“I think that’s my biggest focus of this year,” he said.

Scott also wants to see broadband internet access in his rural district where many residents have been struggling with online classes and business meetings during the pandemic.

Support for local farmers and the environment are also among his top issues.

His campaign website is alexwscott.com.

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