Common sense prevailed at City Hall this week when the Ocean City Mayor and Council decided to not hold a special election to decide a referendum question in the summer.
Last week the council was deadlocked on whether to hold a special election in August to determine a referendum that would decide if the city’s paramedics and firefighters should receive collective bargaining with binding interest arbitration rights or add the question to the November 2018 municipal election. Three council members wanted the matter decided in August, while the others opined it should take place when voters go to the polls next November to vote on the open Mayor and Council seats.
There was robust discussion last week about the issue, and it was unclear what the council would decide this week. Evidently, there was a lot of discussion privately about this issue because magically the council — or at least the six members in attendance this week — suddenly appeared on the same page. The typically chatting council members were silent Tuesday in their unanimous support for next November, representing a drastic change of direction.
No matter how it played out behind the scenes, the right decision was made. A summer special election would have had pathetic turnout. Residents and business owners are too busy from a heightened pace of life that comes with living at the beach. Additionally, less than two months would not be enough time for distracted voters to understand the complexities of the issue and to vote in an educated fashion.
In the meantime, with the matter to be decided in November of 2018, we like the idea put forward by IAFF Local 4269 President Ryan Whittington this week. He suggested a forum or town hall meeting where the union and the city could present their views on the referendum and allow attendees to hear the ins and outs of the issue in a professional discourse. That’s worthy of pursuing next fall prior to the election.
In the end, the council made the right call here. There was no need to rush this issue to a public vote, especially one held in the peak of the summer season.