OP Candidates Weigh In On Leading Issues; Just One Incumbent Among 12 Running

BERLIN – Candidates shared their views on everything from the importance of reserve funds to the role of the general manager at last week’s Ocean Pines Association candidate’s forum.

Eleven of the 12 candidates who have filed to run for the three seats available in this summer’s election attended the forum June 22. Several voiced criticism of the association’s current board of directors.

“The destructive relationship between the board and the general manager is at a crisis point,” candidate Slobodan Trendic said. “Challenges are poorly handled or not addressed. Business as usual is no longer an option. Elect members who know how to lead.”

Others were even more specific.

“It is time to have a board whose members do not threaten other board members,” candidate Steve Lind said.

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Candidates at the forum were given the opportunity to share opening and closing statements as well as answer two randomly selected questions. Questions focused on the community’s yacht club, funding methods, the relationship between the board and general manager and outsourcing, among other topics.

Opinions were split on the issue of outsourcing, which has primarily been discussed as a possibility for the restaurant at the yacht club. Candidate George Simon said he was totally against the idea.

“All you’re doing is lining someone else’s pocket,” he said.

Trendic and Lind both spoke in favor of it. Lind said that if it didn’t work when it was tried before that was because the board tried to micromanage the process. Trendic said the association should use outsourcing wherever it made sense.

“It’s an efficient, effective way to bring in new ways of running our amenities,” he said.

Candidates Tom Janasek and Frank Daly each drew the question asking what their number one priority as board members would be. Both  spoke on the need to improve the relationship among board members.

“My number one priority is to get the board functioning like a board,” Daly said. “Right now it’s functioning like a sixth-grade student council.”

Janasek said the bickering among board members needed to stop.

“There’s so much dissension. There’s so much infighting. It drives me crazy,” he said, adding that he’d also like to see the board hold its meetings outside the regular workday so more people could attend.

Candidate Sharona Ezaoui also spoke on improving the cohesiveness of the seven-member board.

“We all would like to improve everyday life,” she said. “We all have to do it together. We can get ideas from each other.”

When asked whether the community should repair or replace its aging bridges, candidates Doug Parks and Patricia Supik said the board needed to make a decision based on the engineering reports. They both said that if the bridges were a danger they needed to be fixed whether there was government funding for the work or not.

“The importance of safety outweighs whether or not we can get funding,” Parks said.

Supik offered similar comments and pointed out that the bridge situation illustrated the importance of maintaining a reserve fund that could pay for major projects.

“If you don’t have reserve funds, everything becomes a major problem,” she said.

When asked what he thought his role as a board member should be, candidate Brett Hill said he thought it should be to represent Pines residents — the shareholders of the corporation. He said the board needed to take more responsibility in managing the community’s assets. He pointed to the food truck that was proposed for the association as well as the late opening of the community’s pools as examples of poor management.

“The board has the responsibility to hold management accountable,” he said.

While he was critical, candidate Ray Unger — a former board member — praised the efforts of Bob Thompson, the community’s general manager. He said it was Thompson’s job to run the community under the supervision of the board.

“I think we’re very fortunate to have him,” Unger said.

Jack Collins, the only incumbent in this summer’s election, said the general manager was an employee and as such was under the control of the board. Collins said the board was tasked with moving the community forward but also needed to focus on eliminating unnecessary spending. He also pointed out that board members were all volunteers.

“Let’s get the political ‘who struck John’ out of the way,” he said. “Let’s move this community forward.”

Though candidate Larry Perrone was not able to attend the forum, he submitted a video statement in which he advocated for the rehabilitation of the community’s beach club and country club.

Ballots for this summer’s election will be mailed to residents July 11 and must be returned by Aug. 11. The results of the election will be announced at the association’s annual meeting on Aug. 13.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.