Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

The political winds are blowing and it’s official election season is upon us. It’s actually been in full swing for some time, but once the holidays are over and the calendar flips to 2014, it’s going to be a mad sprint to the June 24 primary for many candidates.
The biggest news this week was not unexpected. Senator Jim Mathias expressed his intention to seek his third term in the State Senate. He will be looking to extend his undefeated election streak that dates back to his start on the Ocean City Council in 1990. Although there may be other entries in the race, Mathias at present will square off with Delegate Republican Mike McDermott, who was obviously targeted by the state’s Democratic leadership when legislative boundaries were redrawn earlier this year, pitting him against an ally in the new district. Mathias and McDermott are a study in contrast, and it will be interesting to see how the lower shore weighs in. Mathias, a Democrat, leans toward the moderate status, while McDermott does not mix words about his hard right, conservative beliefs
On the Worcester County Commissioner front, Commission President Bud Church has already announced at events he will be seeking re-election in District 3, which includes West Ocean City and parts of Berlin. Church ran unopposed in the 2010 election. Word he will seek re-election squelches earlier rumors that he was mulling a House of Delegates run, although he has repeatedly said in the past he has no higher elected office aspirations.
Commission Vice President Merrill Lockfaw has filed for his second term in District 1 (Pocomoke area). District 2 is expected to be open to newcomers for the first time ever, as long-time Commissioner Jim Purnell is reportedly leaning toward stepping away from politics after more than 16 years as the county’s minority-designated representative.
In the western District 4, incumbent Virgil Shockley will probably run for his seat again, but the reliable word is he is being wooed for potential state agriculture posts by gubernatorial candidates. I expect to see him file for re-election, but his future might be more dependent on the governor’s election than what takes place on the micro-local front.
District 5 (South Ocean Pines) will see a large field due to incumbent Judy Boggs retiring. Two candidates have already come forward, but early indications are this will be a crowded field with the primary being pivotal in sorting out who will advance to the November General Election.
District 6 will see a Republican primary rematch in June involving incumbent Jim Bunting against former Commissioner Linda Busick. I hear at least one other well-known Republican might enter the fray. If that happens, it could be tight, but time will tell here.
Besides District 5, the most compelling race will be in District 7, which includes all of Ocean City. Commissioner Louise Gulyas, who has been in office since 1998, has privately confirmed she will not be running again, sources maintain. I expect a few well-known resort residents to vie for this seat as a result. Based off the Facebook goof a couple months ago when his Ocean City page was inadvertently altered to a County Commission reference for a short time, Councilman Joe Mitrecic seems like a certainty to seek the seat. Even in saying he had nothing to do with his election page being changed, he made it clear he is at least considering a run at the county post. It would make sense because he would have a free shot at the seat. Even if he lost, he could stay on the City Council because he will be in the middle of his term. He will not be alone in seeking the seat, and I expect familiar names on both party sides to get in the mix.
It’s going to be a fun election season to follow on several fronts.

Questions about the motive behind the suicidal man who set himself ablaze and walked into the rectory of the St. Paul’s by the Sea Episcopal Church were cleared up somewhat this week. It appears he wanted to inflict damage on the rectory and kill those within. That’s not a shocking conclusion, but it just underscores how mentally ill the man was and how his well-documented addiction issues made matters even worse.
Speaking to News Editor Shawn Soper from her hospital bed, Dana Truitt, who came into contact with the man inside the rectory and was able to escape with major injuries, was able to provide some insight into how it all went down back on Nov. 26.
“When I looked outside, I saw the guy set himself on fire. He came in and said to me ‘you’re not getting outside’ and ‘you’re not leaving and you’re not getting out of here alive.’ I said ‘yes, I am’ and I fought my way by him. I got outside and that’s how I survived it,” Truitt said. “He was able to grab my right side. He grabbed me and said ‘you’re not going anywhere’ and I said ‘you watch me.’ That’s what I did. I pushed by him and I got back outside and the first thing I did was start to take my clothes off because I knew I wouldn’t live and I didn’t have any choice but to take my clothes off.”

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That’s how Berlin should take word that Salisbury is introducing a free New Year’s Eve ball drop celebration, featuring live music as well as a disc jockey and off-site alcohol sales. Three years ago, Berlin held its first ball drop celebration and it has grown each year since.
“For the community to have a chance to celebrate a New Year’s Eve in Downtown Salisbury is an incredible leap forward. A new generation of leaders is emerging that will take the downtown to even greater heights. I plan to be there for the ball drop, and will take every opportunity to invite the public to be a part of NYE Salisbury,” said Mayor Jim Ireton in a press release. “I encourage our community to send a clear message with this event:  The ‘Bury is the Place to Be on NYE.”