Wicomico Co. Executive Calls for Council President to Give up Le - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Updated: Wicomico Council Responds to County Exec's Call for Council President to Give up Leadership Post

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SALISBURY, Md.- The Wicomico County Council fired back at County Executive Bob Council on Thursday, after he called for the president of the council to step down from his leadership post.

As WBOC first reported on Wednesday, County Executive Bob Culver sent a three-page letter to County Council President John Cannon earlier this week outlining his grievances with Cannon. 

One of the points of contention is the former Poplar Hill pre-release corrections facility on Nanticoke Road, which county officials want to turn into a residential drug treatment center. Plans for that conversion have not happened yet. 

"Led by you, you proclaimed the Executive's office did not show to answer questions on Poplar Hill and we were stomping our feet and not showing up because we did not get our way on another request," Culver wrote to Cannon. "You continued to proclaim that this was such a tragedy for the citizens of Wicomico County and it was no fault of the County Council. Furthermore, you continue to place blame on the Executive's office."

Culver also accused Cannon of interfering with the county executive functions, which Culver claims is a direct violation of the county charter. 

After further detailing his grievances with Cannon, Culver concluded his letter by calling for Cannon to "step down as Council President and allow another member to step into your role to better accomplish the business and goals of the Wicomico County citizens."

"If you find this a harsh request, then maybe we can refer this matter to the Ethics Commission for resolution," Culver wrote.

On Wednesday, Culver elaborated on why he wrote the letter.

“Last week the rhetoric being said on public TV, PAC14, was out of hand.
He is the president and should be able to reign this in. Instead, he is leading the rhetoric and so much as said things that were not true," Culver said of Cannon.

Despite requesting that Cannon step down from his leadership role, Culver's letter did not call on Cannon to resign from the council.

Cannon told WBOC he has no plans to resign as council president. 

"It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances. It’s a disturbing letter to say the least and reflects poorly on the executive and Wicomico County," said Cannon.

On Thursday morning, the Wicomico County Council sent a letter of its own to Culver, and provided the media with a copy of it, just as Culver did with his own letter. In the letter, the council told Culver, "There will be no change in county council leadership."

"The county executive's call for the council president to step down is completely inappropriate," the council wrote. "The county executive has no role to play in the intern workings of the county council - the council is a separate branch of government that does not answer to the executive. To attempt to meddle in the internal governance of the council shows a stunning ignorance of how county government works and a profound disrespect for the charter that Wicomico County voters have approved." 

The council additionally wrote, "Wicomico County deserves elected officials who will focus on the public good, not private disagreements. The executive may wish to focus public attention on personal issues he has with individual council members, but it is our job to work for the betterment of Wicomico County."

After Culver's letter became public Wednesday, other local leaders weighed in on the controversy. Bill Chambers, president and CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, said the letter makes the entire county look bad. 

"Disagreements between councils and county executives are not uncommon, not only in Maryland but nationwide," Chambers said. "The level of disagreement on this issue as well as other lingering issues is a detriment to the betterment of the region."

Chambers said the response may also impact people's outlook on the region.

"If I'm a business entity and I'm looking to locate to Wicomico County, with this level of dysfunction and shenanigans, I'm probably going to look at a different location to relocate my business," Chambers said.

Others who spoke with WBOC, like Wicomico County Councilman Bill McCain, said he hopes Culver and Cannon can reach a resolution soon, for the sake of the people they serve. 

"It's fine to have differences, and differences can sometimes get us to the right answer a lot of times, but what we don't want to happen is personality differences get in the way of our good decision making," McCain said. 

Both Culver and Cannon said on Wednesday that the controversy will not keep them from governing effectively. 

Below are Culver's letter to Cannon followed by the Wicomico County Council's letter to Culver.

 

 

 

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