Culver successor decision in County Council’s hands

County Executive Bob Culver, lower left, and Councilman John Cannon, upper right. Cannon is expected to apply to succeed Culver.

Under the County Charter, Director of Administration John Psota will serve as Acting County Executive until the County Council can appoint a successor.

With the office now vacant, council members have 45 days — or Sept. 9 —  to appoint a successor to serve until the 2022 election. That appointee would need to come from the executive’s political party — Culver was elected as a Republican — and would have to meet the same qualifications for office as anyone who might seek the job.

The charter makes no provisions for how someone might apply for the job and Culver has no obvious successor. The County Executive form of government has been in effect since 2006 and only two men have served in the post.

The council, therefore, is treading on new terrain.

Wrangling, presumably, will go on behind the scenes. The charter makes no mention of open interviews or transparency — it only says a majority of the seven members must make a choice within the 45 days.

The charter sets the County Executive’s annual salary at $85,000.

Also, the 4-3 Republican majority will likely want to select someone who will run for election in 2022; an appointment now will give the party a leg up, thanks to incumbency.

Following is a list of high-profile Wicomico Republican Party members who might be under consideration for County Executive.

John T. Cannon

John Cannon is the council’s current Vice President, but has served as Council President in previous terms.

He was first elected to the council in 2006, left the council to run for the House of Delegates in 2010, but was elected anew to the council in 2014, and re-elected in 2020.

Cannon lives in Kensington Woods west of Salisbury. He is the owner of Cannon Management & Rentals.

The Cannon family is considered Salisbury royalty and his ancestors were among the city’s founders. His father was politically active and served in the House of Delegates; his twin brother is a former Salisbury City Council President.

Cannon expanded his business through a purchase last year and moved aside as County Council President so he would have more professional time.

His name has always been among the list of people who might seek the County Executive’s post — and this may very well be his time.

Carl T. Anderton

Carl Anderton made Lower Shore political history when he knocked off longtime Democratic incumbent Norm Conway in 2014. The former Mayor of Delmar, Anderton has brought an everyman’s sense of personality to his lawmaker’s role.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Anderton has been known to work both sides of the aisle, reaching out to Democrats who control legislative proceedings in the State House.

The sense is that Anderton wants the job, but is hesitant about giving up the role he has carved out in Annapolis.

Matt Holloway

Matt Holloway served two terms on the County Council, from 2010 through 2018. A fifth-generation farmer in Wicomico County, he owns and operates multiple businesses, including a sod farm and a hydroponic lettuce operation. 

While on the council, he was seen as the body’s link to the farming community, as well as the young business leaders who are on the rise in the community.

Holloway has always been on the list of possible future County Executives, but he had a record of working closely with former Democratic incumbent Rick Pollitt and wasn’t prone to challenging him.

A Hebron resident, he left the council to concentrate on growing his family business and is unlikely to want the job now. Still, he’s someone who people declare as a worthy consideration. 

Sheriff Mike Lewis

When Hunter Nelms announced in 2006 that he would end what had evolved into a beleaguered tenure as Wicomico County Sheriff, everyone seemed to already know that Mike Lewis would be the next man to hold that post.

Nelms had fallen victim to his oversight of the county’s Drill Academy for young criminals, and morale in the Sheriff’s Office was low.

Lewis, then a freshly retired sergeant with the Maryland State Police, he had been a leading member of the Maryland Police Training Commission.

Lewis was easily elected sheriff in November 2006 and has been re-elected three times since. He is among the top vote-getters in Wicomico County history.

The Sheriff has long been on every Republican leader’s promotables list. There has been talk that he should run for state Senate, County Executive — even Governor or Lieutenant Governor.

The conventional wisdom, however, is that Lewis loves being Sheriff too much and would resist the work grind that would come as County Executive. 

Larry W. Dodd

Larry Dodd is the current Council President, which means his colleagues voted previously to make him their leader.

Dodd, who lives in Salisbury, represents District 3, which includes Powellville, east Salisbury and a large section of Fruitland. Dodd previously served on the council, but lost his re-election in 2004. After serving on the county’s Board of Education, he won election to the council in 2014 and was re-elected in 2020.

He retired as a Captain from the Salisbury Fire Department in 2013.

Dodd has shown little if any public indication that he wants the position. As this is new territory, however — and given the council’s previous decision to make him their legislative leader — his name could rise to the top.

Chris Adams

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2014, Chris Adams is a conservative pro-small-business advocate who represents District 37B, a large area that includes parts of Salisbury and huge sections of Dorchester and Talbot counties.

His family owns a well-established floor coverings store in Salisbury.

In Annapolis, Adams has pushed his small-business agenda as a member of the Economics Matters Committee.

There is no indication that Adams wants the job, but his House of Delegates territory is grinding — because he lives on the extreme easterly side of the sprawling district, he often has to travel 65 or so miles to attend constituent events. 

Joe Ollinger

Joe Ollinger is a retired Salisbury businessman who ran for County Executive in 2010, losing to incumbent Rick Pollit by just 912 votes.

Ollinger has served on numerous local advocacy and nonprofit boards, and also served a term on the Wicomico County Board of Education.

Ollinger, who lives near Shad Point, ran a solid campaign in 2010 and raised lots of great ideas for addressing various issues. Firmly retired and fond of international traveling, his desire for the seat might have passed.

As your community newspaper, we are committed to making Salisbury a better place. You can help support our mission by making a voluntary contribution to the newspaper.