Bertino, Wilson Vying To Replace Boggs As Ocean Pines Commissioner

Bertino, Wilson Vying To Replace Boggs As Ocean Pines Commissioner

BERLIN – One candidate pushed world experience while another touted Worcester County experience at a forum featuring the District 5 Worcester County Commissioners this week.

Long-time Ocean Pines resident and newspaper publisher Chip Bertino, a Republican, and local volunteer Tom Wilson, a Democrat, shared their thoughts on the challenges facing Worcester County and the best way to promote it at a forum hosted by the Coastal Association of Realtors and Ocean City Today on Oct. 22. Both are vying for the seat held by retiring commissioner Judy Boggs.

Bertino told voters he has spent years attending county meetings as a newspaper publisher and knew the ins and outs of local government.

“I’m proud to be from Ocean Pines,” he said. “We are an engaged community. We want what we want, and we’re not afraid to ask for it. We deserve to have vibrant, dedicated representation.”

Wilson, who spent time as finance director for the Peace Corps and executive officer for the African Development Foundation, retired to Ocean Pines 11 years ago. He said he had a history of getting things done.

“I have experience and I know how to work with government,” Wilson said. “I’m not going to sit here and blame the state for everything.”

Wilson said he considered the biggest problem in Worcester County to be the lack of year-round employment. He said the County Commissioners boast about the work Worcester County’s economic development director had done, but he maintains, “It’s not enough.”

Bertino, on the other hand, said the most pressing issue in Worcester County was the budget. He said the county had to be more cautious with its funding and to think of the future.

“I think it’s very important we start to take into account where we need to be and where we want to be in 2017 and 2018,” he said. “Four years from now, I don’t want to stand in front of this group and say we’ve had to raise taxes.”

When asked what could be done to promote rural Worcester County and not just its beaches, Wilson said the area needed to stop relying on a tourism economy, one that goes away every winter.

“We need to focus on keeping the jobs we have and work on getting more,” he said. “I love it here and I’m confident we can bring in others if only we try.”

Bertino said the county’s economic development team was helping to generate interest in the area but that more support was needed from the state.

“We’re doing a lot of things right and we’re not getting exactly what we need at the state level,” he said.

An audience member asked what each candidate would do to support public safety.

Bertino said his son was a law enforcement officer and it’s an issue h takes seriously.

“Anything we can do to protect our officers is a family matter in our household,” he said, adding that he would do whatever he could to help local law enforcement.

Wilson said his time as president of Diakonia had put him in contact with police and other law enforcement officials. He said he had seen the problem heroin was becoming on the Eastern Shore. Part of supporting law enforcement, he said, was supporting the prevention services offered by the Worcester County Health Department.

“It’s not just putting people in jail it’s also prevention,” he said. “It needs to be a coordinated approach. We need to work together to address these problems.”