Today, the Wicomico County Council voted to keep John D. Psota as Acting County Executive at a special Legislative Session.
In a split 5-2 vote the Council elected to retain Psota as County Executive until 2022. Councilmembers Hastings and Acle voted against the move. Following the Council’s decision in late August to reopen the selection process and accept new applications for County Executive, two individuals applied: State Delegate Carl Anderton, who represents part of Wicomico County in the General Assembly, and Lawrence Pate Matthews, the County’s General Services Supervisor. Several Councilmembers expressed that they believed retaining Psota was the best way to move the county past what has been a tricky selection process.
Background on the process:
- Wicomico Council Begins County Executive Selection Process
- County Executive Bob Culver’s untimely passing triggers Section 407 of the County Charter which states that if a vacancy in the position of County Executive occurs after the first 12 months of an elected term, the vacancy shall be permanently filled by resolution with a majority vote of the members of the County Council within 45 days after the vacancy occurs (in this case the deadline would be September 9, 2020).
- County Administrator John Psota is serving as acting County Executive.
- After the deadline for applications on August 11th had passed, four candidates emerged: State Delegate Carl Anderton who represents part of Wicomico County in the General Assembly, District 5 Councilmember Joe Holloway, former county Finance Director Michele Ennis, and Rene Desmarais a cardiologist who ran in 2014 for a seat in the House of Delegates.
- Holloway Withdraws His Name From Wico. County Exec. Race
- After legal advice and guidance from County Attorney Paul Wilber, Council Attorney Robert Taylor, an Attorney General’s opinion, and the county’s Ethics Commission, it was determined that councilmembers would not be able to vote for Councilmember Holloway, and he withdrew from the race.
- Wicomico Council Names Rene Desmarias as New County Executive
- The Council conducted interviews in a socially distanced public session at the Wicomico County Youth & Civic Center on August 20th where candidates were asked a variety of questions and had the opportunity to share their vision for the county.
- Following interviews and after a closed deliberation period, Council Vice President John Cannon put forth Anderton’s name for consideration, a move supported by two of the Council’s Democrats: Councilmembers Josh Hastings and Bill McCain. The remaining Councilmembers voted against the proposal and subsequently selected Desmarias for the role, with Councilmember Nicole Acle making the motion.
- Newly Chosen County Executive Declines Post
- Dr. Rene Desmarais said in a statement: “Thank you for the opportunity to become the next Wicomico County Executive. Although it would be a privilege to lead our great county, I must respectfully decline to accept the appointment. I wish you the best in your future selection.”
- Wicomico Council Meets to Readdress County Executive Appointment
- In an administrative session on August 28th, the Council decided, after much deliberation, to reopen the application window and has set a new deadline of September 14th.