OCEAN CITY — Days before the filing deadline for Ocean City’s municipal elections next month, the field became a little clearer this week with two more familiar candidates throwing their hats in the ring.
Several seats are up grabs in the municipal election on Nov. 6, again coordinated with state and national, including the mayor’s seat and three City Council seats currently occupied by Council President Lloyd Martin and Councilmen Matt James and Wayne Hartman. In June, Hartman won the Republican primary for the state House of Delegates District 38-C seat, essentially assuring his election to the state legislature and also insuring there will be at least one new member on the Ocean City Council following the November election.
James and Martin have already filed for re-election and were joined on the council candidate ballot last week by local resident Chris Rudolf. Local resident Joe Cryer filed early for election to the mayor’s seat, and current Mayor Rick Meehan formally filed this week for re-election. Also formally filing this week was long-time Ocean City Police Department Sgt. Mark Paddack.
With Paddack’s filing on Monday, the field of candidates for three vacant council seats with a just a few days remaining before Tuesday’s deadline includes incumbents Martin and James, along with Rudolf and Paddack. By way of clarification, Paddack can file for a seat on the council while still working for the town’s police department.
However, if he is successful in gaining a seat in the November election, he would be required to resign from the police department. In Paddack’s case, however, the point is moot because the long-time OCPD officer has chosen to resign on Oct. 31 in advance of the Nov. 6 election.
Paddack officially filed for office on Monday. He said this week his intentions for seeking office were simple after a long 28-year career with the OCPD.
“I am pleased and honored to announce my candidacy for the town council of Ocean City,” he said. “When I was considering my run for the Ocean City Council, I was asked ‘Why do you want to run for Ocean City Council?’ I said that my answer is very straightforward. I believe in Ocean City.”
Paddack said if elected, he will rely on his vast experience and knowledge of the town and its residents.
“As an almost three-decade servant of Ocean City’s public safety system, I know the local residents and small businesses that make our town work,” he said. “I am familiar with every single square block of the town of Ocean City. Wherever the citizens live in town and where they may work or shop, I have been there and can understand their concerns. I have listened to their thoughts over the decades and, moreover, helped resolved many of the individual challenges facing our residents and businesses.”
Paddack said he knows that there are many issues the council has faced and will face in the future. He points to four issues that he believes are of vital interest to Ocean City residents right now.
“First, we want to work together to maintain the current tax rate without diminishing the excellent services provide to our citizens by dedicated town employees,” he said. “Second, there is a need to improve methods to mitigate problems associate with too much noise and congestion during the town’s motor vehicle events. Third is the development of a realistic solution to the line-of-sight wind energy controversy that is important to both residents and visitors. Finally, there has to be an amenable way to balance out the tax differential between the Town of Ocean City and Worcester County governments.”
Meanwhile, some key dates for candidates and voters are quickly approaching. For example, the voter registration deadline is Oct. 16. Residents unable to go to the polls on election day must apply for and submit their municipal absentee ballots to the city clerk’s office by mail or by hand no later than Nov. 5 at 5 p.m. Early voting centers will not include Ocean City’s municipal election on the early voting ballot. To vote in the municipal election, residents must vote in person at the convention center on Nov. 6, or through the absentee ballot process.
There will also be ample opportunities for residents to get to know the candidates. For example, the American Legion Synepuxent Post 166 will host a candidate forum for Ocean City’s mayor and council candidates on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at its post on 22nd Street. The format includes a meet-and-greet social hour from 5-6 p.m. From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., each candidate will have 10 minutes to address the attendees, followed by a question-and-answer period.
A similar candidate forum at the legion will be held the following week on Wednesday, Oct. 24, for the candidates for state and local offices including the contested General Assembly seats and the Worcester County Commissioners, for example. The forum will follow the same format and time schedule as the municipal election forum a week earlier. The public is invited and encouraged to attend both forums.