OCEAN CITY – Doug Cymek might be the newest voice on the City Council, but don’t expect to hear him make a big fuss about it.
Cymek, who gained a seat at City Hall in his third try, has been the quietest of the council members in his first few months since the election, opting rather to fly below the radar and concentrate on researching issues that faces the town.
“I guess that’s kind of in my nature to be inquisitive being in the P.I. business,” said Cymek, a private investigator for the last 10 years. “I’m trained to listen to what people have to say and use the people’s opinions and the information that I’ve gained as my sounding board. So far, I find the job to be very exciting and very rewarding.”
The times in which Cymek has been vocal, most notably when he made a surprise motion to grant town advertising company MGH a $178,000 job to redesign the town’s website while some members on the council were deliberating over choosing a neutral site to use in the Request For Proposal process, he has been articulate and well researched.
Cymek thought that the controversial but successful 4-3 vote that split the council on the website was “the right one in the long run for the town” and knows that there are going to be more difficult decisions on the horizon.
“We’ve been looking at and trimming easy things off the budget like car wash contracts for town vehicles, but there’s some tough stuff coming up. We are going to have to pull out the books and go line by line on the budget,” said Cymek.
On the upcoming issue of the convention center expansion, Cymek has been seen taking measurements in the back section of the Roland E. Powell Center that would be enclosed and turned into 9,000 square feet of additional exhibit and dining space. Cymek said there are additional possibilities in that section by building outward an additional 35 feet by 220 feet that provide an additional 7,500 square feet in his estimation.
Cymek believes that the $5 million convention center upgrade will eventually get passed, but he, much like vocal opponents Jim and Joe Hall, agree that fixed seating might be a bad idea.
“I’ve been doing research about attractive but retractable theater-style seating and we have the means to store them,” said Cymek, “and they would still enable us to use that space for exhibitors that feel that main ballroom shouldn’t be split in half.”
Cymek, who ran his campaign based on the stance of being the “voice of the people,” said that he’s heard no complaints about his reserved candor now that he’s in the public eye. He feels that he has spoken up on the issues when he needed to.
“I don’t need to sound off and use my post as a grandstand or a soap box. That’s the type of stuff that we need to put aside on this council,” he said.
Cymek has not been free of criticism however, as one council member Margaret Pillas vocally criticized his appointment to the Police Commission during the recent legislative committee assignments. Pillas called his involvement on the committee a “conflict of interest”, perhaps alluding to his work as a private investigator and as a bail bondsman.
Cymek remains unfazed, claiming that, “no one else except for Margaret took exception to my involvement on the Police Commission and in anticipation that someone might, I ran it by the city solicitor and he told me that serving on that committee was fine. That was just her opinion.”
What surprised Cymek slightly was how well informed the general consensus of the town was, especially in the ongoing debate about putting a performing arts center in the convention center, claiming that he “couldn’t believe how many people wanted something like that in Ocean City.”
Cymek said that the public needs to know that the City Council is trying to be very clear about all the things that can be done to better the town and hinted where he stands on the proposed $5 million upgrade to the convention center, which would be paid for by the 1-cent food and beverage tax that all consumers pay when they buy food or drinks in Ocean City.
“When you look at the dollars and cents of it, it makes a lot of sense, and it is a pretty good deal,” he said. “Government shouldn’t just be dead in the water when times are tough.”
Cymek says the transition from private eye to life in the public eye has been a fairly easy one, despite tough issues or occasional criticism.
“I didn’t promise anything but to be accessible and make the best decisions I possibly can,” said Cymek. “I was elected to work hard and do a good job for the people of Ocean City, and I’m going to do that.”