The process started at 7pm. Going in alphabetic order, the Council first interviewed Lewis Bracey for the seat vacated by the now imprisoned Daryl Jones. Each sitting Councilman then asked all ten hopefuls a barrage of questions. For instance, John Grasso specifically requested each one to define diversity. Meanwhile, Jamie Benoit sought details about their respective experiences. By the time Steven Wyatt concluded this process at 9:45, most assumed District 1 would soon have a new representative in Annapolis. By midnight, the Council dismissed without agreeing on a victor.
To earn the coveted seat, a candidate needed support from four of the six Councilmen. After the first roll call, Marine Lieutenant Peter Smith secured votes from Jamie Benoit, Chris Trumbauer and Jerry Walker. Meanwhile, Derek Fink and John Grasso endorsed former Senator Michael Wagner. Moreover, Dick Ladd lent his support to Richard Forgo, a former primary opponent of Daryl Jones. By the next roll call, Mr. Ladd changed directions and joined Fink and Grasso in supporting Wagner. After almost 2 hours and approximately 100 subsequent roll calls, none of the Councilmen would budge on their guy.
At times, the debate got heated. Often defiant and confrontational during the entire process, Mr. Grasso suggested they stay all night if needed and concluded that such a tactic would ultimately end the stalemate. Meanwhile, Chris Trumbauer got visibly annoyed when Grasso challenged his support for Mr. Smith. “I am not going to be bullied, Mr. Grasso”, stated Trumbauer, suggesting such tactics worked against the ultimate goal of selecting a successor for Jones.
Later, Jerry Walker questioned why Mr. Wagner attempted to buy tickets to Dick Ladd’s fundraiser just days before this hearing. Calling the actions “unethical”, Mr. Walker openly questioned the motive behind such a tactic. Mr. Ladd immediately dismissed the allegations, explaining he returned the donations once the matter got brought to his attention.
With no winner established, the Council agreed to reconvene on Tuesday, February 21st, at 2:00pm.