Rumors are blowing around on the political front these days, thanks largely to lower shore Senator Lowell Stoltzfus announcing he would not seek another term. One piece of gossip circulating this week was that Delegate Jim Mathias had privately decided he would seek the senate seat, but would not be confirming publicly until a week or so before the start of the General Assembly session early next year. That seemed to be extremely detailed for a rumor so I asked the former Ocean City mayor about it Wednesday.
“That’s not true,” said Mathias, who has never lost in eight previous elections. He said no decision has been made yet. “Let’s just say my attention has been caught. … The decision is under construction, and there’s a tremendous number of people that are talking to me about it. I am flattered and we are working through it,” Mathias said.
When pressed on a timeline for a decision, Mathias said, “I want to be clear with you … given the relationships I have with people in the district, in the legislature and throughout Maryland, it will come clear when the time is right. I would prefer to think through all the elements of the decision and know it’s a good decision. The people I want most comfortable with it is my family, my core supporters and the people of my district. I welcome them to contact me to let me know what they think,” Mathias said. “I was asked back in 2001 by President [Mike] Miller [to run against Stoltzfus], but I didn’t feel it was my time then, based on a variety of factors. To be frank with you, this is not about Jim. Most importantly, I want to continue my public service to our citizens and be sure my family is at peace with the decision. When that times come clear with my faith, it will come clear.”
Is the Maryland State Firemen’s Association convention worth keeping in Ocean City? It’s an interesting question. Clearly, the annual June event is not the draw it once was for the town, but it would seem foolish to let the event slip away if it at all possible. Earlier this month, convention representatives came before the town’s Tourism Commission to let officials know the convention may have to relocate or even cease to exist if Ocean City does not become more affordable, specifically hotel room prices. This is an interesting situation here. There seems to be a desire among some city elected officials to keep the convention in Ocean City for years to come, but it’s unclear whether the business community views firemen’s week as deserving of special treatment. That’s exactly what fire officials are seeking when they requested a list of lodging establishments willing to cut special room rates for convention goers during this week in June.
It’s not anyone’s fault, but the annual Maryland Association of Counties conference is long on fluff and short on substance. Last week’s event means little to the average citizen, but it does bring some sales to local business owners, although attendance was reportedly down this year. The convention essentially consists of a lot of staged gatherings and seminars on relevant matters of the day, such as the economy. However, finally after a number of public relations stops in the area, Gov. Martin O’Malley talked money on Saturday night while giving the keynote speech at the concluding banquet. He articulated what many knew was obvious, but few want to openly accept. Serious funding cuts, in the neighborhood of $500 million, are coming next year.
“We’re not going to be able … to spare any levels of our government, whether it’s state, whether it’s local or whether it’s municipal from this recession. … None of us are going to be able to be spared from the sort of cuts that are coming, the sort of reductions that are coming from one of the most dramatic, rapid and historic contractions in the economy that we’ve ever seen. I cannot sugarcoat it,” the governor said.
In other words, Worcester County, perennially considered one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in Maryland as a result of an absurd formula used to calculate per capita wealth, needs to be ready to see big cuts.