The field for the four open City Council seats became more congested this week and that’s not good news for any of the individual candidates.
If this election’s outcome was uncertain before this week, it became further clouded with the council field now up to 10 candidates.
What happens in large fields like this is the voters have a lot of options with their four votes. Council elections are always tricky business because of the “single shot” factor, which is when a voter only casts one vote for a candidate, rather than four. For example, and the candidates will probably never admit to it, each of them will likely only cast one vote on election day — for himself or herself. That’s what gives them the best shot of earning a seat, according to the odds. The candidate’s family members and friends will likely do the same thing. That’s the best way to ensure a favorable outcome, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go about voting in a Democratic system. It’s just what happens in an at-large election system like Ocean City’s.
In the 2010 election, it was clear single shooting affected the outcome. Three council seats were up for grabs two years ago and consequently each voter had the ability to check three names. As is usually the case, many did not mark three in that seven-person field. Based on the 1,458 ballots cast, a total of 4,374 votes could have been cast for council candidates. In fact, 3,835 were recorded, meaning 539 possible votes were squandered. Readers will remember Councilman Brent Ashley edged Joe Mitrecic for the third council seat that year by 41 votes.
Armed with the knowledge that a large field can complicate the election, some folks have approached underdog candidate John Frank Adkins to remove his name from consideration. He said this week he will not oblige.
“Without a doubt, I am not going to drop out,” he said. “I would love to see 2,000 to 3,000 turn out to vote, that would tickle me to death … there is going to be a change in this council, that is a guarantee.”
Predictions are risky business in Ocean City politics, largely because of the single shooting tradition, but I think Adkins is right. All four incumbents will not return in November. What the exact makeup will be is what’s most interesting because each incumbent is reportedly being greeted on the streets with support, but as Council President Jim Hall acknowledged this week, the voters are a fickle bunch. “Voters lie to you, sometimes they will just say anything to get you off their porch,” he said.
As I sat watching the presidential debate on Wednesday night, I was reminded all politics are indeed local.
President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney were both guilty of lying at the most extreme or distorting the truth at the most minimum.
National politics is not our thing here, so I will digress on specifics, but surely all who watched the debate understand the two men were constantly accusing the other of not telling the truth and each used facts to demonstrate that the other was not accurately portraying his view. The end result is confusion among the voters and the debates serving little purpose as far as changing minds and serving merely as good theater.
Under the microscope that is the Ocean City election, this is playing out as well. People have their own views on matters and express them in interviews. Opponents then argue the reality is quite different than what was expressed in print, providing facts to illustrate their points.
This week’s interview with Council President Jim Hall serves as the latest example.
“It’s a personality race, but it shouldn’t be. It’s about the money. Do you want the ones who are going to spend or do you want the ones who are going to save?,” Jim Hall said of the clear choice before voters.
Councilman Joe Hall painted a similar picture last week, but many feel this election is more about community pride and unity than finances. It just depends on who is talking at the moment it seems.
Next week I will sit down with former City Manager Dennis Dare and the following week with Mayor Rick Meehan.