Over the last decade, the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police has become a player in Ocean City elections. The lodge started playing a role when it launched its eventually successful bid for collective bargaining with binding arbitration and its active role has continued in recent years with candidate endorsements and high-profile visibility at the polls.
According to President Glen McIntyre, a lodge meeting was held Tuesday to vote on endorsements for the Oct. 21 municipal election. McIntyre confirmed the lodge is endorsing Mayor Rick Meehan, who is unopposed, resident Doug Cymek and City Council incumbents Jim Hall and Mary Knight.
“Basically what we did when it came to the council candidates, we opened up the floor for discussion. We talked about the good, bad and ugly of all the candidates, mostly good, especially the incumbents because we have a history with them and felt comfortable endorsing Jim Hall and Mary Knight,” McIntyre, an Ocean City police corporal, said. “With Doug, we have a long history with him. He has been an FOP supporter for some time and is actively involved in public safety issues in and around town, a number of civic groups and currently sits on the Noise Board. He was one of those new candidates we thought would make a pretty good splash as an incoming council candidate.”
When asked to elaborate on why only three candidates were endorsed when four seats are open, McIntyre said, “What ended up happening with that last seat was we had an inability on the floor to come to a consensus as far as where we should go. So we opted not to endorse a fourth candidate.”
Word spread fairly quickly around town about the lodge’s endorsements and there was a mild surprise former police officer and current Councilman Jay Hancock did not receive a vote of confidence as he did four years ago. “We’ve developed some deep-rooted philosophical issues amongst the rank-and-file members and how Jay views and sees the police department. Some of the comments he has made in the paper over the years have rubbed our young guys the wrong way,” McIntyre said. “… We just couldn’t reach a common consensus on an endorsement of a fourth candidate and felt comfortable ending the process at the three we picked.”
Although it may seem like a minor move, last week’s disqualification of William Steiner as a City Council candidate is a significant turn of events and will impact the Ocean City election. Past history shows that even the least knowledgeable of candidates, and one who never lived here in the first place, for example, can influence elections. There’s no need to embarrass anyone here with names, but the last place finisher in the 2006 election received 200 votes. In 2004, the cellar dweller claimed 165 votes. Putting this in perspective, back to the 2006 election, 74 votes separated Mary Knight and Joe Hall for the final council seat. Back in 2004, it was just 50 votes that allowed Joe Hall to edge Margaret Pillas for a seat. Therefore, using past history as a guide, it stands to reason that Steiner, who operates a strip club in Anne Arundel County, would have at a minimum diluted the vote and subsequently impacted the race.
A number of new state laws went into effect when the calendar rolled to October. Here’s a few to chew on.
— First, and incredibly unimportant, the Smith Island cake became the state’s official dessert. Unless you are a merchant who has reaped the benefit of the added exposure, this is a move most could care less about. My favorite is the chocolate and peanut butter followed closely by the banana.
— The “official state exercise” is now walking. This is another one that I can’t imagine anyone is concerned with, but it’s interesting because the bill was vetoed back in 2003 by then-Gov. Bob Ehrlich Jr., who reportedly felt it was underestimating the state’s populace. Apparently, he favored jogging, biking or swimming over a brisk walk.
— Teens younger than 18 are now prohibited from using tanning beds without a written consent from their parents. Enforcement is the big question mark here.
— The day after Thanksgiving is now a holiday for state employees with the designation of Black Friday as American Indian Heritage Day. Most took this as a vacation day anyway so now it’s a paid day off instead.