Finally, the General Election is almost here. As is usually the case, there have been lots of political machinations over the last week or so and here are a couple that I reflected on this week.
•The Citizens For Ocean City group has only been around three years but there’s no question it has become an involved player on the micro-political front in Ocean City.
What’s debated by many is whether that’s a good or bad thing. My feeling is the group serves a valuable role, as I will almost always support concerned citizens coming together to affect change, as was the case in 2012 when this group advocated extensively for certain candidates to dethrone the former council majority that ruled with an all-too heavy and misdirected hand. Clearly, that group’s efforts helped to result in the clean sweep of its endorsed candidates and the resounding defeat of two other incumbents.
The Citizens group’s role in this election has been aggressive as well and some have been maintaining that it’s been essentially a bully on some fronts, particularly in light of last week’s Freedom of Information Act request for city documents involving a construction company owned by candidate Nancy Bolt, who had a decent shot of getting elected. The FOIA was filed about 30 minutes before Bolt decided to terminate her campaign. Once Bolt dropped out, the FOIA request was dropped. Mission accomplished it would seem. Bolt seemed unaware of the documentation request last week when reached by a reporter. Additionally, the Citizens group took the lead on challenging the residents of two candidates.
Over the summer, I didn’t think the Citizens group would be as active in this election as it was in 2012. But in some ways it has played more of a role than in did during that “take back the town” campaign, which was rooted in the council majority at the time dismissing City Manager Dennis Dare over philosophical differences.
The Citizens group is an example of grassroots politics at its finest in my opinion, but several times over the last couple weeks the group has been cast in a negative public light, prompting group member Patti Miller to purchase ad space this week to make it clear exactly what the focus of the group is today and respond to a competing newspaper’s opinion that it is a “political machine that will do whatever it takes”.
Miller wrote, “Citizens for Ocean City is not a “machine”, it is a well-respected organization and has grown in numbers because it is made up of Ocean City residents who just want common sense, transparency and responsible government. Many residents have no desire to return to the days when a negative, radical, secret agenda for “change” disrupted our city council meetings. … Citizens for Ocean City believes that ‘Informed citizens, make good decisions.’ Research the candidates’ knowledge, experience, integrity and vote on Nov. 4th!”
•State’s Attorney’s races were not always this way. However, dating back to the earlier showdowns between former State’s Attorney Joel Todd and current State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby, the matchups have been quite heated.
Oglesby is apparently a lightning rod on the political front and two anti-Oglesby ads were purchased in this paper this week, excluding challenger Mike Farlow’s own ad. Oglesby did have ads of support from the Ocean City Fraternal Order of Police and the Ocean City Firefighter/Paramedics Association.
In Farlow’s own ad, former State’s Attorneys Joe Moore and Randy Coates express their support for him over the incumbent. Both men were opposed to Oglesby previously as well.
It’s been interesting to me to observe how polarizing of a figure Oglesby is around here. It’s as if he is either loved or hated and that’s confirmed by the narrow losses to Todd previously and the slim victory in 2010. This is a race I will be watching closely on election night.