A strange election season in Ocean City got weirder yesterday when Ocean City Council candidate Nancy Bolt decided to withdraw from next month’s election. This is a significant move and will unquestionably have a major impact on this election.
An already diminutive field has now been shrunk to just seven candidates, meaning a majority of the Ocean City residents who filed to run will obtain seats. This is the first time I can recall more people will win in an Ocean City election than lose.
A review of recent elections in Ocean City shows that no single candidate who has run for a seat on the council has ever secured less than 100 votes. In fact, the last-place finisher in the last four elections received 304 votes, 2012; 124 votes, 2010; 355 votes, 2008; and 200, 2006.
Therefore, there is no question that Bolt’s decision to remove herself from contention will alter the outcome of the election. If Bolt had stayed on the ballot, she surely would have received well in excess of 100 votes and was surely among the candidates who have a chance of getting elected. Without her on the ballot, it’s even more of an open election and I expect this race to be decided by an incredibly small margin of votes as usually the case.
The 2012 election was an unusual affair, as the fourth-place finisher, Doug Cymek, received 1,680 votes, compared to Jim Hall, who received 929 votes for fifth place. That was an unusually large difference between securing a council seat and not. Traditionally, the council seats are decided by a much slimmer margin, such as in 2010 when Brent Ashley came in third place with 775 votes, beating out Joe Mitrecic with 734 votes. In 2008, Joe Hall came in fourth place and won a seat, beating out Brent Ashley by 52 votes. It was more of the same in 2006 when Mary Knight won a seat by a 74-vote margin over Joe Hall.
The point here is most council seats are decided by a small amount of votes, and Bolt’s decision to step away from the proverbial fish bowl almost assuredly confirms this will be a nail biter for the remaining hopefuls.
Ocean City Councilman Lloyd Martin received an unusual endorsement this month. It came from the law offices of attorney Peter G. Angelos, who just happens to be the majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles.
The letter to the law firm’s clients reads, “As you know, our office makes a practice of recommending to our clients the election of certain public officials who have, through their actions, demonstrated a commitment to the working people of the State of Maryland. … Your decision on election day will help determine the quality of the state and local government, and judiciary, for years to come.”
The letter then goes on to recommend Martin as the sole candidate receiving the firm’s endorsement in the municipal election. At this week’s council meeting, Martin was questioned about it and then read the letter as part of the council member comments portion of the meeting.
“It makes me feel great to get an endorsement like that. Peter Angelos has a lot of attorneys who own property in Ocean City … they actually endorse people they know have done a good job taking care of their property in the Town of Ocean City and they appreciate the hard work we do up here, and they know how much hard work it is up here and to be criticized by the public,” Martin said. “He thinks the town is running very well and this letter was written without my knowledge.”
This letter was yet another example of a bizarre week in resort politics.
There was good news reported by Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan at the conclusion of this week’s Mayor and Council meeting. Meehan confirmed the military banners that were posted along the Boardwalk this summer for the first time will return next summer.
Back in January, Pat Riordan of the Ocean City Elks Lodge asked the council permission to proceed with an Ocean City Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program to honor active duty personnel who hail from Worcester County. The council gave its blessing and the banners were hung along the Boardwalk.
At a ceremony last weekend, the Elks and American Legion presented the banners to the families of the service men and women. The tasteful banners featured a photo of the individual and his or her name. Meehan recapped the ceremony at this meeting, while making it clear the banners would be returning next summer.
“We receive complaints about a lot of different things and on the Boardwalk we hear complaints about specific things, but one thing that was consistent this summer were compliments about the banners. People were happy to see those banners in place and they really did serve a purpose and recognize the true heroes of our country — the men and women in our Armed Services,” Meehan said. “What they did at this ceremony was … present those banners to the families of the individuals, and each family got a chance to stand up and tell us a little bit about the individual serving in the Armed Forces. A couple of them were even here to accept them and they were very emotional about the community recognizing them. It was a great program and it will be continued in 2015 by the Elks and the Legion. That’s really what Ocean City and this community is all about.”