County Executive: A Q&A on the selection process

Q. Why did Dr. Rene Desmarais ultimately decline his appointment?

A. In a statement, Desmarais — who works as a cardiologist for the Peninsula Regional Medical Group — said he had concluded “the greatest benefit I can provide to my patients and to my friends in Wicomico County is to continue practicing medicine.” There has been speculation that Desmarais believed he could continue to see patients while serving as County Executive, but the County Charter makes clear the executive must be dedicated entirely to county employment.

Q. What happens now?

A. Under the charter, the County Council has until Wednesday, Sept. 9, to name a successor to Bob Culver. The council seemingly has two options: Select from among the two other applicants; vote at this Tuesday’s meeting to reset the clock, reopen the applications process and spend another 45 days searching for a consensus replacement.  

Q. Who voted for Demarais and who voted for Carl Anderton?

A. Republicans Larry Dodd, Joe Holloway and Nicole Acle, and Democrat Ernie Davis supported Desmarais; Democrats Bill McCain and Josh Hastings, and Republican John Cannon voted for Carl Anderton.

Q. What about Michele Ennis?

A. None of the council members presented Michel Ennis’ name for a possible vote.

Q. Why wasn’t the public allowed to offer input prior to the vote?

A. The public had a chance — sort of. The council revealed the names of the applicants on Aug. 13, so people could have reached out to council members in advance of the hearing. The council, however, voted immediately after last Thursday night’s interviews, so there was no opportunity to address the council in a public hearing setting.

Q. Why did the council members not pick Carl Anderton?

A. None of the four who refused to support Anderton declared their reasons. Again, there is plenty of speculation to go around, with each member having his or her own concerns.

Q. There was a conflict of interest suggestion involving Councilwoman Nicole Acle. What was that about?

A. Acle’s husband, himself a medical doctor, reportedly had a business connection with Desmarais. Acle, however, announced that the business arrangement ended in February, and she was therefore free to vote. She said the county Ethics Commission ruled her to be conflict-free. (The Salisbury Independent has requested supporting documentation from Ethics Commission Chairman Ernie Colburn.)

Q. Is there a recall process for County Council members?

A. The County Charter contains no provisions for a public removal of elected officials. Council members can, however, be forced to forfeit office “if convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.”

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