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Skipjack race canceled due to lack of wind

Under 18 voters receive ballot in error

CAMBRIDGE — Continued mixed messaging about the security of mail voting for the upcoming November election has left voters across the country, including those in Maryland’s Mid-Shore, lacking confidence in the system responsible for counting their vote.

In Cambridge, several instances of underage residents mistakenly receiving ballots in the mail for a municipal election undoubtedly has fueled voters’ concerns. Cambridge resident Kristi Krewson said her 16-year-old son is among more than 50 ineligible voters who were mailed a ballot ahead of the city’s local election in October.

Dorchester County elections officials assured Krewson they would right the wrong, though she said she’s not confident they will. Krewson said her son’s wrongly receiving a ballot leaves her to further question the security of mail-in voting.

“Why did this happen in the first place?” she said. “Luckily, we are honest people and would never commit voter fraud.”

Dorchester Elections Director Gwendolyn Dales said the ballot flub was a result of Cambridge’s vendor, True Ballot, going ahead with distribution of the ballots before the city’s eligible voter list was set to be finalized on Sept. 29.

Dales said voters are allowed to register to vote at age 16, but they still are not eligible to participate in an election until they’re 18. If an underage citizen tried to cast a vote, she said, their ballot would be scanned and rejected because of their birth date, which is contained in ballot’s the bar code.

The 51 ineligible voters in Cambridge who were mailed a ballot due to the vendor’s rush to send out the tickets will be receiving a follow-up letter explaining why they erroneously received a ballot and when they will be eligible to vote.

In Talbot County, Elections Director Jeri Cook said she “can pretty much guarantee” ineligible voters aren’t being mailed ballots in the county.

“We send out information to underage voters, but we did not send out ballots,” Cook said, adding that elections coordinators mail a letter every election year to underage registered voters that reminds them they’re underage and therefore ineligible to vote.

While Cambridge’s ballot distribution misstep won’t directly impact the 2020 presidential election, it cripples voters’ trust in their elections officials and threatens the integrity of the city’s upcoming election — for which mayoral and city commissioner hopefuls are up for vote.

Brenda Roberts of Cambridge called the ballot blunder “kind of scary.” Roberts said if that’s happening in “just one little town,” it worries her about what’s happening in the rest of the country as ballots continue being sent to voters.

Cook said voters can rest assured their ballots will be secure in Talbot County. The County Board of Elections has advertised registered, voting-age citizens can drop their mail ballots in a drop box at the BOE at 215 Bay Street or at the Easton Volunteer Fire Department at 315 Leonard Rieck Rd.

Ballots dropped in the boxes are picked up multiple times per day, and the drop boxes are video-monitored for security, the elections board said.

In Dorchester, the ballot drop box is located in front of the Dorchester County Office Building, 501 Court Lane, Cambridge.

breaking featured
Fed chief meets with Cambridge leaders

CAMBRIDGE — The head of the regional Federal Reserve Bank that includes Maryland visited business and community leaders on Wednesday, Sept. 23, in Cambridge.

Tom Barkin, the president and chief executive officer of the Richmond Fed, is responsible for the bank’s monetary policy, bank supervision and regulation, and payment services, as well as oversight of the Federal Reserve System’s information technology organization.

Barkin held meetings in Cambridge with business owners and representatives, developers, and workforce and economic development directors.

Barkin travels widely through small towns and rural areas in the Fifth District (West Virginia earlier this month and Somerset County this week), in order to “get boots on the ground to learn the story, history, dynamics, and to find out the initiatives already in place.”

He said a major longstanding difficulty for small towns is when rural jobs and people move to the cities, but the massive changes to the economy and the status quo caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown have created an opportunity for small businesses. Residents of more heavily populated areas have been “awakened to the risks” and been more exposed to the downsides of city dwelling, while the response to the crisis created new ways for people to live and work.

Barkin said that while small towns can benefit in a shift of population and economic activity, the shift is “not going to help every situation,” and there will be big competition for full or part time residents that are moving from cities.

“I do think COVID is the moment for small towns,” said Barkin, as he explained that individuals and businesses are looking for a story. Towns need to “get their story out there, get everyone telling the same story.”

“Some scrappiness is required,” cautioned Barkin, who said that communities have to have an educational system that must be desirable to individuals, and that provides an adequate workforce for employers.

“Workforce and jobs are two levers that must be moved at the same time,” said Barkin of the combined need to have jobs for workers and workers for jobs. Barkin said the Cambridge area has potential, including the waterfront area that Cambridge Waterfront Development Inc. is working on.

Barkin said the Richmond Fed is able to help communities with economic, community development and business growth by using strong research abilities to find out what makes a community work and by connecting those areas with that information. Often, Barkin said, “small towns struggle with access to expertise,” and benefit from that outside information, and from support that comes from connections with other areas elsewhere that are facing similar challenges.

Additionally, the Richmond Fed has an upcoming conference on investing in small towns, a forthcoming publication of research about expanding rural broadband, and connecting prospective entrepreneurs with a broader set of lenders to increase the chances of getting the necessary loan.

When asked about the local housing situation, Barkin said that while the nation is “in a slightly difference place on home ownership,” more lower cost housing is needed. He said while older generations saw it as the single best path to wealth, the housing crisis of 2008 showed that home ownership at any cost is a dangerous goal. The creation of what Barkin called “workforce housing” works economically in cities that have affordable land and construction costs.

Construction is “coming out of the depths,” with strong residential new construction and steady commercial rehab work, according to Barkin.

“No one is starting office buildings,” which Barkin said is a reflection of the trend created by the COVID situation, the situation that presents such an opportunity for a smaller town or city with the right circumstances. He said that as construction potentially slows down, it could help to make that factor more affordable for workforce housing.

The Richmond Fed’s mission is to strengthen the economy and communities within the Fifth District, which includes the Carolinas, Maryland, Virginia, most of West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The Federal Reserve System is comprised of 12 regional Reserve Banks across the country, including the Richmond Fed, and the national Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.

Barkin joined the Richmond Fed in January 2018.

CWDI board member Jeff Powell said, “It was really encouraging.”

Powell said an examination of Barkin’s recent work and his comments and questions at the meeting show, “He really gets it.”

Bay Country Communications representative Brian Roche said the meeting with Barkin and his staff showed, “They’re trying to understand what’s going on in the local economy.”

“They mostly listened and asked good questions,” said Roche. “I appreciated the opportunity to talk about what’s going on locally.”

Dave Cannon announces Ward 4 re-election bid

CAMBRIDGE — Cambridge Commissioner Dave Cannon has announced his bid for re-election in Ward 4.

“We are fortunate enough to live in a nation whereby voting we can select those who lead us. City government is the closest to the people and it is at this level where the work done on our behalf is the easiest to see and experience,” he said. “Each election gives us the opportunity to review how well or poorly we have been served and the people of Cambridge once again stand at a time of decision.”

Having been born, raised and spent almost his adult life in Cambridge, Cannon said he has seen firsthand the lack of progress in some areas while also seeing some successes. He said it is his desire to serve as the people’s voice and represent local families in an honest effective way.

“There are several things I feel we need and which I will focus on working alongside of the council you as residents of Cambridge select. Firstly, we need to market our community and its natural resources to an increasingly large audience for one important reason, to recruit business owners and potential investors,” Cannon said. “If we fail to recruit new business, we have failed at the most fundamental level, giving our citizens an opportunity to make a living and better their lives.

“People depend on the leaders in our community and if leadership does not take the bull by the horns to bring work and good paying jobs to Cambridge, we have a limited positive future and will continue to live in a community where over 25 percent of our residents are on some kind of social assistance. Workforce development, recruitment of business and further development of our youth people along with supporting our small business community is a must.”

Secondly, Cannon said the council needs to focus on young people.

“They need opportunities for recreational activities and places to spend their time in positive ways,” he said. “It costs taxpayers approximately $13,000 per year to educate each child, which makes it imperative that our efforts be directed to provide opportunities for our graduates to build a future here at home. This effort must also include the youngest of our children who attend our day cares and kindergartens. These children in many cases enter schools not prepared for the next level of their education both in basic reading and social skills. After school programs are a must.”

Cannon said he would work to help find the funds needed to help improve the care and education of children.

Finally, Cannon said the council must provide a city that is safe, secure and livable for all residents.

“There is a need in every part of our city for sidewalks, better street lighting and the reduction of poor housing. Some sections need our help immediately and much more than others. With this in mind it is my intention to work with city staff, your council, community leaders and residents throughout Cambridge to focus on those areas of town,” Cannon said. “Without this commitment little else that we do is meaningful and will not bring the positive results you as residents of Cambridge deserve.”

If re-elected, Cannon said he will focus on these issues and respectfully listen to the concerns of all who live in, work in and visit Cambridge.

He invited residents to contact him at davcan4@gmail.com or call 443-477-4415.

Locals discuss creating Tubman statue for Dorchester

Meeting participants brave torrential rain to discuss bring a statue of Harriet Tubman to Dorchester County.

CAMBRIDGE — Dozens of community members braved torrential rain on Saturday, Sept. 26, to discuss the possibility of bringing a permanent Harriet Tubman statue to Dorchester County.

The rally, hosted by Alpha Genesis Community Development Corporation, began with a teleconferenced conversation with the sculpture’s creator, North Carolina artist Wesley Wofford, and including comments from attendees about the idea of bringing a statue to Tubman’s home county.

“I want to get feedback from you,” Wofford told the participants over a video feed. He said a copy of the current statue is not an option due to the way the work was commissioned. The current statue in front of the Dorchester County Circuit Courthouse through Oct. 9 is the artist’s copy of an original that is privately owned.

mdetmer / MIKE DETMER 

The visiting Harriet Tubman sculpture will be in front of the Dorchester County Circuit Courthouse through Oct. 9.

Wofford said that it’s better that local residents give him input about what a potential representation of Tubman to be located in Dorchester would look like. “That’s how I work.”

As she started the discussion about what a possible statue could incorporate, Alpha Genesis founder and president Adrian Green Holmes said, “There are awesome stories here that we as a community can ponder on, (and decide) about what we want to tell as a community.”

mdetmer / MIKE DETMER 

A profile view of the Harriet Tubman statue shows a look of determination.

Alpha Genesis Executive Director Jermaine Anderson carried the microphone to audience members as they contributed their thoughts. The first round of ideas centered around what key words the participants associated with Harriet Tubman, including resilience, perseverance, determination and strength.

Wofford asked, “Are we building an icon, a symbol of freedom, or showing her as a person?” Responses suggested portraying Tubman’s human characteristics with other symbolism included, similar to the statue currently at the courthouse.

Anderson then introduced the topic of paying for a statue, stating the cost to commission and purchase it is an estimated at $150,000 to $200,000. Multiple participants vocalized support for helping to obtain funding, and Alpha Genesis asked for interested people to join an ad hoc fundraising committee. For more information about Alpha Gensis CDC, visit https://alphagenesiscdc.org/.

Top Shot fundraiser co-organizer Rob Kramer walks back up range after scoring targets during the shooting competition. Of his unique garb, Kramer said, “I lost a bet.”

Patriot Point Top Shot Rob Kramer