Nicole Acle selected to Wicomico’s District 2 seat

Nicole Acle.

Wicomico’s County Council on Monday selected Nicole Acle to fill the District 2 seat recently vacated by Marc Kilmer.

A resident of the West Nithsdale community in Salisbury, Acle was one of four nominees put forward by the county’s Republican Central Committee. Officially sworn in on Tuesday, she is the first woman to serve on the council since Republican Stevie Prettyman held the same western Wicomico seat in 2014.

Acle’s confirmation had to withstand an initial vote Monday, in which Joe Collins’ name was submitted by Council Vice President Larry Dodd and seconded by Councilman Joe Holloway, both Republicans. Collins’ nomination failed to get a majority vote from the six council members.

Councilman Josh Hastings, a Democrat, then offered Acle’s name, which was approved unanimously.

Kilmer departed the council in June. Council members had expected to pick his successor at a meeting July 16, but couldn’t reach a consensus. As a result of that indecision, one of the nominees, Austin Whitehead, withdrew his bid.

Acle is the owner of Medical Nutrition Therapies in Salisbury. She is a former Pennsylvania resident who has lived in Wicomico County for 18 years.

In her interview with the council on July 2, she said public education would be her top priority as a county leader, followed by economic development and the environment.

She told council members that a key to improving education is to re-engage parents who have placed their youngsters into private schools. She also used her interview to point out that the council has no female representation, and described herself as someone “who could contribute some diversity and bring a voice to those who don’t have one.”

She is Vice President of the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity of Wicomico County. She is a winner of the Maryland Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service, a committee member for Salisbury Promise and a council member for Salisbury Youth Advisory.

She holds a master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from Penn State University and a bachelor’s in Dietetics from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

“I’m looking forward to serving and I’m very excited,” Acle said after the meeting.

Dodd said the selection process was a long one, with the Central Committee screening nearly two dozen applicants.

“It was really a tough decision to make,” said Dodd, who not only serves on the council but the Central Committee as well, “and I think it would have been better off to have an election and let the citizens make this decision, instead of six councilmen.”

The appointment is in effect until November 2020, when the polls will be open for the presidential congressional and elections, thereby creating a special balloting window for District 2 voters.

The 2020 Maryland primary is April 28 of that year. The winner of the November election would fill out the remainder of the term before standing election again — along with the County Executive and the rest of the council — in 2022.

The council was on a deadline to make the choice official. The county’s charter calls for a reappointment within 45 days of a resignation, making this Wednesday the deadline.

The four finalists nominated to fill the seat were publicly interviewed on June 18 and July 2. In addition to Collins, Whitehead and Acle, Julie Brewington of Eden was one of the Central Committee nominees.

When Whitehead withdrew, the GOP Central Committee floated the name of its Chairman, Salisbury businessman Mark McIver, for the post, but the council never acted on his nomination.

In being the first nomination Monday night, Collins seemed the preference of the council’s three Republicans, but the Democrats declined to support his bid.

A pilot for American Airlines since 2000 and Piedmont Airlines for five years before that, Collins has lived in Mardela Springs since 1998. He has held several local leadership roles, having been appointed to the county’s Redistricting Committee, elected to the Wicomico Central Committee and being appointed to the Board of Elections by the governor.

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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