The following is a look at our endorsements for a number of local contested elections. These endorsements are intended to give readers a glimpse into why we have decided to support certain candidates. We take this obligation of offering our suggestions seriously at this newspaper, and it’s important to point out these are endorsements based on our independent analysis and not predictions. They are a result of an extensive review of each candidate and much deliberation.
State Senate District 38
Aside from the governor’s race, where we recommend Republican Larry Hogan, by the way, the race between incumbent Democrat Jim Mathias and Republican Mike McDermott is one of the most fascinating matchups for a state seat because it features polar opposites.
The party affiliations are only part of it, however. The candidates’ personalities, general approaches, ideology and campaign tactics directly contrast the other.
The pick here is incumbent Mathias because of his record of superior constituent service and the fact he will have more of an ability to have a voice at the table in the Senate when it comes to decision making.
While many of McDermott’s core campaign topics are on the money, such as his belief Maryland is an anti-business state and fiscally irresponsible, there is no place for extremism in Maryland politics. Valid campaign points and reasonable conservative ideals are one thing, but affecting a change and actually being able to acquire the ears of opposing party representatives as well as colleagues is critical in the Senate.
Due to his moderate beliefs, and his voting record confirms that in our opinion contrary to his flaming liberal portrayal in campaign ads, like the peas in a pod commercial, Mathias has a much better chance of providing representation for the shore and actually being a voice that is heard in Annapolis rather than simply dismissed as extremist.
House of Delegates District 38C
Republican Mary Beth Carozza’s vast experience in Annapolis and Washington serving in former elected officials’ top-level administrations gives her the edge to be the first representative of this new district. Carozza has arguably worked the hardest of all the regional elected candidates. She surely has been campaigning the longest and was knocking on doors well over a year ago. Her campaign has been organized and targeted. Carozza has a well-reasoned approach and sound familiarity with the issues facing the district and should be an articulate and respected representative in Annapolis, despite being on the minority side of the aisle.
Worcester County Commissioners
District 2: Diana Purnell is a good fit for the county’s minority district and should bring a new energy to the board and improved representation. Through her service for the organization BRAVE (Berlin Reclaim Attitude and Value Enhancement), she gained the respect of many and demonstrated a consensus building approach and a willingness to tackle difficult issues when no easy solutions are evident. She should make a great commissioner.
District 3: Twelve-year incumbent Bud Church deserves one more term. The veteran elected official’s unmatched experience and vast familiarity with county government operations serves him well in the community. He has been the commission president for the last five years and that means he is considered a leader by his peers on the board. One way to exhibit that leadership over his next term would be through bringing a dedicated ambulance service to West Ocean City where resident population and commercial interest are surging. Another would be improving the sidewalk situation in the area. We believe Church has the pedigree to accomplish these two necessary goals. In addition, he has established a degree of political equity within the county and beyond that could be helpful on the funding front if he exerts his influence.
District 4: We have endorsed him in every election dating back to 1998 and the reasons remain the same. Virgil Shockley personally cares about his county and district and his knowledge and familiarity with his constituents is impressive. His quest to see Snow Hill High School renovated was a stated goal in his first campaign and it’s finally happening. He deserves a pat on the back for seeing that through to the end as it was for years relegated to the back burner. As a school bus driver, elected official and farmer, Shockley has a diverse and balanced background that suits him well for elected office, and we see no reason why one more term should not be in order.
District 5: Chip Bertino is our favored representative to represent this Ocean Pines district. Two qualified candidates are on the ballot, but we give the edge to Bertino for his community familiarity and government knowledge gained through reporting on the County Commissioners at his newspaper. The major issues facing this district are the new Showell Elementary School and safety improvements along Route 589. Both require tons of funding and are long-range projects, but we think Bertino will be the best representative to see the district through the next four years and striving toward those goals.
This will likely be a tight race, but we give our nod to incumbent Beau Oglesby. As the county’s top prosecutor, Oglesby is the most criticized elected official in Worcester County. It goes with the territory because no other elected office in the county probably has more important daily dealings with citizens in unfortunate circumstances.
Due to his close ties to law enforcement, there are many who believe he is overly zealous in his prosecutorial policies and does not always use the appropriate judgment when it comes to trying cases. While there may be merit on some levels to those charges, we believe Oglesby overall has performed well as State’s Attorney and is deserving of a second term based on his four-year record and the fact he has done what he campaigned for prior to elected office. He’s tough on crime, a professional and leads a solid team of prosecutors.
Ocean City Council
Positive and reasoned discourse without ulterior motives is healthy for elected bodies, and that goal was the driving motivation behind our endorsements in the resort.
Respectable division is healthy and the expression of diverse viewpoints often makes government function at a higher level than it does when all vote the same way, and we encourage the four endorsed candidates to be independent and stay true to the values and principles they bring into office if elected.
Unfortunately, because 12-year Councilman Lloyd Martin did not respond to attempts to be profiled by this newspaper, as well as other media outlets, and has seemed uninterested (or maybe it’s just over confident) throughout the campaign, he was excluded from the judgment process.
For the four open council seats, we endorse the following:
Wayne Hartman: The most impressive overall candidate on the bill in our view. We believe he will form his opinions independently and be clear with his positions after evaluating the matters before him. He has gained a familiarity with how government works through his service on the Worcester County Planning Commission and his volunteer roles on the Ocean City Development Corporation. Hartman will be a nice addition to the council and we expect him to be a free flyer not easily influenced by others.
Tony DeLuca: A retired executive in charge of franchising for a fast food company, he will bring a unique skillset to the council. If elected, it will certainly not be the first time a retiree has held elected office in Ocean City, but his managerial and financial background in the corporate world does make him an exemplary candidate and he’s primed to be a successful councilman. His stated goals of transparency, protecting residential neighborhoods and maintaining a healthy and diverse business community are important concepts. He is the favored choice among sitting council members, but we will be interested to observe how independent he will be once in office.
Chris Rudolf: At the AARP forum, he proved to be a knowledgeable and reasoned individual more than capable of being an effective councilman. Surely, there will be matters that surface that are new to him at the council level, but we are confident he will do his homework and review all issues in a judicious fashion. At 27 years of age, we believe he will bring a young voice to the council that is needed to make it a diverse leadership board. His retail experience on the Boardwalk and his legislative background will serve him well and provide a solid foundation.
Matt James: Although his youth, unfamiliarity with government and dearth of life perspectives could be viewed as negatives, we believe these facts will eventually result in the 21-year-old being a valuable asset on the new council. While there surely will be a learning curve and he will need to be an ardent worker bee to be effective, we believe an elected official with current hotel experience and inside public safety knowledge is needed on the council and has been missed for some time. James has grown up in the hotel industry working for and with his father, a respected businessman and valued tourism voice in not only Ocean City but Maryland. We expect him to be prepared for every meeting and to add a lot to the council through his intimate familiarity and understanding of the town’s extreme seasonal economy and drastic tourism swings.