SNOW HILL – After 10 years as one of the top elected officials in Worcester County, Commissioner Louise Gulyas has achieved the pinnacle of political success in county government after being elected president of the body.
Gulyas took over the presidency from Commissioner Virgil Shockley on Tuesday. Commissioner Bud Church was voted into the vice presidency the same day, taking Gulyas’ former slot.
The vote was not unanimous. Commissioner Judy Boggs voted “nay” on both elections.
“I just can’t bring myself to vote for a president and vice president who represent one small piece of the county,” Boggs said.
Boggs said she did not doubt the abilities of Gulyas and Church to do their jobs, but that she felt the presidency and vice presidency should be distributed among different areas of the county. Gulyas represents Ocean City, while Church represents West Ocean City and Berlin.
“I wanted to clarify I have every respect for them and their ability,” Boggs said.
Four commissioners represent northern county districts: Gulyas (Ocean City), Church (West Ocean City and Berlin), Boggs (south Ocean Pines), and Commissioner Linda Busick (Bishopville and north Ocean Pines).
Two represent mixed north and south districts: Commissioner Jim Purnell (Berlin and Snow Hill), and Shockley, (Snow Hill, and the western rural part of the county). Purnell has already served as vice president and then president of the commissioners. The single entirely south end district, centered around Pocomoke City, is represented by Bobby Cowger.
At the moment, Cowger said, the demands of his business would not allow him to hold either office.
“I have all the confidence in the world in them,” said Cowger.
“We serve the constituents in our district but we serve all of Worcester County,” said Busick. “I think that the job will be done well.”
Gulyas said later that she was not bothered by Boggs’ ‘nay’ vote, but disagreed that the new officers concentrate power in one small section of the county.
“It’s about all of us representing the whole county,” said Gulyas. “Everyone only has one vote.”
Little was said on Shockley’s ouster from the president’s seat.
“I want to thank Virgil for leading us for this year,” said Purnell. “He’s done a wonderful job. It wasn’t easy.”
Shockley, who helmed the meeting until the vote on the presidency was taken, swapped chairs with Gulyas after the vote.
“I’m very nervous,” Gulyas said, before taking charge of the meeting.
Later, Gulyas said her nerves disappeared quickly.
“I felt good after the whole day. I felt very relieved and very good about the job we did,” she said.
Gulyas has been interested in serving as president of the commissioners for some time.
“It’s something I’ve always had in the back of my mind to do. I’ve wanted to be president for a long time,” said Gulyas.
The economy and budget will be Worcester County’s biggest challenge.
“The commissioners as a group do not intend to raise taxes, therefore we’re going to have to slash and cut. We don’t want to see anybody furloughed,” said Gulyas. “We as a county have always been able to make do. So we’ll make do.”