Thoughts From The Publishers Desk

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The local election
season is heating up. The county offices are exempt this year, but there are
seats up for grabs in Ocean City and Berlin.
With Berlin’s filing deadline passing this
week and five people filing so far for the four open council seats in Ocean City,

we are getting a better picture of the upcoming elections. In Berlin, we know it will be a two-headed race

with interim Mayor Gee Williams challenged by former Mayor Rex Hailey. We also
are certain now three people are seeking retiring Councilwoman Ellen Lang’s
District 2 seat and that Councilman Elroy Brittingham has been re-elected to
another four-year term by virtue of being unopposed. In Ocean City,
until this week, it was unclear if there would even need to be an election
because of the low number of candidates for the four open seats. With five
candidates, including three incumbents, vying for the four seats, there’s now a
reason for voters to head to the polls next month. The race is not yet set,
however, as it has been standard practice in recent years for candidates to
file immediately before the filing deadline, which this year is Sept. 23.
However, all sources indicate the field will be smaller than usual this year.

As is usually the case,
since election season in full swing, the rumor mill is working overtime. One
piece of gossip I had to investigate Wednesday was whether it was true
Councilwoman Margaret Pillas was mulling a challenge to Mayor Rick Meehan
because of her contempt for politicians running unopposed. Not true, Pillas
said emphatically when I spoke with her this week. Pillas even reiterated an
earlier statement that her political career would end in 2010 when her current
term expires. “It was never my intention to run for more than one term. I will
not be running again. If you ever hear anything otherwise, it’s not coming from
me,” Pillas said. However, Pillas said do not misconstrue that to mean she
dislikes being on the council. “Oh my gosh, I love it. I really like being with
the people and hearing from the people and trying to solve their problems and
telling people how government works. I get up there and do my homework,” she
said. “I just want to put my four years in and not worry about trying to please
everybody.”

On the heels of a new
report detailing the increasing rate of teen-related accidents, a movement is
being organized to increase the legal driving age to 18. While maybe some
states need to reconsider how they handle teenage drivers, I think Maryland has enough
safeguards in place and handles the issue just fine. For those who don’t know,
the process for a teen to get a driver’s license today is a lot different than
it was years ago. It used to be the day you turned 16 years old was a
monumental date in your life. It meant driving in the early morning to the MVA
with a parent to take the driver’s test. Depending on how you did, it was
either a wonderful day or one to forget. Currently, turning 16 means nothing as
far as driving. The big day now comes at 16 years, three months. Here’s the
process – Learner’s permit, applicants must be 15 years, 9 months old and pass
a vision and knowledge test and only drive with an adult; Provisional license,
eligible after holding a learner’s permit for six months and completing
required training and allows driving without an adult from 5 a.m.-midnight and
prohibits cell phone use; and a full license, granted 18 months after
provisional license expires and prohibits new drivers under 18 from
transporting minors with the exception of family members without an adult
present.

A few numbers to
consider:

– Two: The number of
business signs spotted in Ocean City spelling last week’s tropical storm wrong.
Apparently these folks were not paying much attention to the news leading up to
Saturday’s dismal conditions because they would have known it was not spelled
with two ‘h’s.
– Three: Number of candidates seeking the District 2 Berlin council seat. As
best I can tell, this is a first for the town, which is traditionally asleep
when it comes to politics. However, there’s no question things are changing in
Berlin. There’s interest in politics and younger folks with families are
starting to get involved and that’s a wonderful thing to see. Observing apathy
among the electorate for so many years was depressing.

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