Name: Michael McDermott
Occupation: Delegate, District 38 B (Wicomico & Worcester counties)
Hometown: Pocomoke City
How did you end up in Maryland?
After college and the army, I was a police officer in North Carolina, but I came up here to take over my father-in-law’s chicken farm, right over in the Eastern Shore. He got sick and he couldn’t do it. Raised chickens for about a year and a half. Then, he had to sell the farm and it was go back to North Carolina or it was go back to my trade. So I went and applied with the sheriff in Worcester County. I’ve stayed ever since. I’m still a lieutenant in Worcester County sheriff’s office. I’m retiring this year.
How did you get involved in politics?
I got in because I went to a concerned citizens meeting in Pocomoke City, they were making some changes to some local building and zoning laws … basically the city council and the mayor at the time were very rude to us. And we were just there to ask some questions, not there with swords and torches or anything. And after we left I said, “You can’t treat people like this.” So I went home and told my wife, “I’m going to run for city council.” But then somebody else I talked to, the mayor of the town I was chief of police in, he took me aside and he said, if you really want to make changes in the local government, run for mayor. So I became mayor in Pocomoke City.
What did you learn from chicken farming?
Well, I learned humility. It’s a very lonely time, you’re generally out there by yourself, working long hours. You find out how much you don’t know. I didn’t grow up on a farm, so that was new for me. You’re having to pick up the dead birds, and your cleaning out after the flock is done. You have to take the top layer out of the house where it’s all caked over from the birds and the manure. That’s actually very profitable for the farmer. When you are responsible for live things, feeding and watering and caring for them, you develop a real understanding and respect for the animal, there’s a real pride in producing something.
What was your favorite thing about chickens?
You don’t name the birds. You focus on the job at hand, making their life while they’re with you as pleasant as possible.
A few weeks ago, you read a speech by George Washington in the House of Delegates. Can you say why you chose that?
I read his Earnest Prayer, from when he was decommissioning the army, reporting the conclusion of hostilities. I love history, whenever I get the opportunity to expose my colleagues to our heritage. I think of Washington resigning his commission, he did that inside our old Senate chamber. There’s a plaque on the floor there. The first day I ever swore an oath in this house, one of the things that I did was go and just stand in front of that plate on the floor. Because that’s where our Republic began, right there at that spot. There were people at that moment that wanted him to be a king and he said no, he sought something better for us. … I am telling you, I am undone by history when I go into the State House ... I just want to be a good builder on the foundation they laid.
Where’s your favorite place to eat in Annapolis?
I like that El Toro Bravo. The food is great and the service is wonderful. And I can walk right to it.
This post has been updated.