OCEAN CITY – A voter rally was held this week and, judging by the mood in the room, there is support for a new majority on the City Council with a strong message shared on the importance of registering to vote.
On Tuesday evening, the Citizens For Ocean City held a rally at Seacrets for election candidates and citizens to come together to network and share the message in the importance to “get out and vote.”
About 100 people turned out for the event and were welcomed with the opportunity to register to vote on site just in case they weren’t prepared for the upcoming election on Nov. 6.
Candidates in attendance included incumbents Mayor Rick Meehan and Council members Doug Cymek, Joe Hall and Mary Knight. Also, council hopefuls Dennis Dare, Joe Mitrecic, Robert Baker, Frank Adkins, and Sean Rox attended.
Council Secretary Lloyd Martin was also in attendance. Council President Jim Hall and Council members Brent Ashley and Margaret Pillas were not in the room.
“This is to get people out and vote,” Citizens For Ocean City spokesman Joe Groves said.
Groves explained voting is especially important for him as a result of his experience as a combat veteran fighting for this country and the fact his son is serving his third tour overseas in Special Forces.
Meehan, who is being challenged by Nick Campagnoli for the mayor’s seat, was the featured speaker and thanked the Citizens For Ocean City for organizing the event and promoting the importance of voting in the upcoming election more than ever.
“Tonight’s rally is really about the future of Ocean City, but I want to take a few moments to reflect back on the past couple of years,” he said. “As the mayor, former council president and councilman, I have served this community for 27 years, but I don’t think I have ever been through a two-year period that has been as difficult as we have just gone through in Ocean City.”
Meehan reflected back to the swearing in ceremony following 2010’s election when former Council President Joe Mitrecic handed over the gavel to Jim Hall and newcomer Brent Ashley took his seat behind the dais.
Meehan recalled that this was when the self-proclaimed new majority, which included Ashley, Joe Hall, Jim Hall, and Margaret Pillas, made it clear they were in power to make changes.
“That night they abolished all of the council committees and commissions, and they closed the door on open discussions at the council level. That is how it started,” the mayor said. “The path of destruction started when they passed 10 ordinances that directly affected the salary and benefits of all of our future employees without doing any of the actuarial studies necessary to determine what the cost of those changes would be to you, the taxpayers, or the ramifications would be for our employees. As presented, they could have potentially cost today’s taxpayers millions of dollars.”
Meehan reminded the room that it was during those discussions when comments were made that insulted city employees and led to their justifiable loss of trust and confidence in the City Council.
“I vetoed those ordinances, all of them, but there is a silver lining in everything,” the mayor said. “It was these actions that led to the formation of the Citizens For Ocean City and it was your support that helped get us through that first wave of tough times. Your presence and outcry for help limited the possible long-term effects of those ordinances on both present and future employees. You did your job and thank God you were there.”
Meehan said the next major event came last September when the majority made the decision without council discussion to dismiss then-City Manager Dennis Dare after 21 years on the job.
“The Citizens For Ocean City again stood strong and voiced their vehement opposition against the council majority,” the mayor said.
Meehan said it was the belief of the majority that by the time this year’s elections approached their decisions and actions would have been forgotten.
“I can tell you I don’t think any of you have forgotten. Have you forgotten?,” the mayor asked as the audience yelled out “no”.
Meehan concluded that now is the future and the future is in the voters hands.
“If you agree with the actions that have taken place in the past two years, then you know what direction you want to go. But, if you want to restore the trust and integrity in Ocean City Council, and if you want to bring back open discussion before decisions are made, if you want to get rid of Washington-style politics that the self-proclaimed new majority has brought to our Ocean City, if you want the council to truly represent all of the citizens of Ocean City there is a right direction and I challenge you to spread that word and to get the people out to vote,” he said.