OC Mayor Faces Two Challengers; Five Council Candidates On Ballot

OCEAN CITY — The filing deadline for the Ocean City municipal election passed late Tuesday evening with another new face joining the race for three council seats and a familiar face joining a three-horse race for mayor.

Among the seats up for election on Nov. 6 in Ocean City are the mayor’s seat, currently occupied by longtime incumbent Rick Meehan, who formally filed for re-election last week.

Local resident and former city council candidate Joe Cryer filed early on to challenge Meehan. Joining the mayor’s race this week was former councilman Joe Hall, who came up short in two prior runs for re-election to the council after holding a seat for 10 years previously. In 2012, Hall finished seventh in a crowded field of nine candidates for four open city council seats.

In that election, current councilman Dennis Dare was the top vote-getter after being ousted after a 29-year career as city manager by a then-council majority that included Joe Hall. Dare was the top vote-getter that year, followed by current Council Secretary Mary Knight and former councilmen Joe Mitrecic, now a county commissioner, and Doug Cymek.

Hall made another run for city council in 2014 and finished sixth overall in an election that featured top vote-getters Matt James, Wayne Hartman, Council President Lloyd Martin and councilman Tony DeLuca. Hall did not seek a return to the council in 2016, but late last week through his hat in the ring to challenge Meehan. As a result, the three candidates for the mayor’s seat on Nov. 6 include Meehan, Cryer and Hall.

Hall said this week he has not lost his passion for Ocean City and its politics since leaving the council.

“Since being out of elected office, my passion of serving my Ocean City community in an elected capacity has not waned,” he said.

He also said seeking the mayor’s seat has long been a dream, one that could obviously not be realized without throwing his hat in the ring. He pointed to a moment in his early life as a catalyst for his desire to one day serve as mayor.

“The mayor’s office has been a dream of mine since singing Christmas carols with my fourth-grade Ocean City Elementary School class to the great Mayor Harry Kelley,” he said. “So, my dream had zero chance if I never filed. Since filing, my dream now has some chance of living. I believe in my calling and I look forward to sharing why I’m a more than capable choice for the position of Ocean City’s mayor.”

There was a late entry just before the filing deadline on Tuesday to the field of candidates for three city council seats up for grabs on Nov. 6. Emily Nock, president of Nock Insurance and active member in the local Jaycees organization, joined a field of four other candidates seeking council seats.

Up for grabs in November are the three council seats currently occupied by Martin, James and 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 November and also ensuring at least one new Ocean City councilmember.

Incumbents Martin and James have filed for re-election. They are joined on the ballot by local resident Chris Rudolf, who ran in 2014 and finished in a close fifth for one of four council seats open in that election. Also filing last week for one of the three open council seats was Ocean City Police Department Sergeant Mark Paddack, who is retiring at the end of the month after a 29-year career with the department.

Nock’s filing late Tuesday rounds out the field of candidates for three open seats at five with incumbents Martin and James being challenged by Rudolf, Paddack and Nock. Nock grew up in Ocean City at the Nock Apartments, a business handed down from her grandparents to her parents. She is a Stephen Decatur High School graduate and joined the Nock Insurance Agency where she currently serves as president in 1999.

Nock has served as the president of the Salisbury and Maryland Jaycees and this year helped start the Berlin-Ocean City Jaycees.

She currently serves as a National Vice President for JCI USA (the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce).  In addition, she serves as the Recording Secretary for the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary Post #166 and a board member for both the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the American Red Cross Delmarva Chapter.

“Ocean City is my home,” she said this week. “This town has given me so much over the years and helped to shape me into the person I am today. It is my turn to give back to the town. If elected, my mission is simple- to fairly represent all citizens of Ocean City and do everything within my power to help Ocean City continue to be the town beloved by so many for generations to come.”

Another key element on Ocean City’s municipal election ballot will be a referendum question regarding binding interest arbitration for the resort’s firefighter-paramedics. In March, the Career Firefighter Paramedics Association of Ocean City, or IAFF Local 4269, submitted a petition seeking binding interest arbitration after collecting signatures throughout much of the last year.

In April, the town’s Board of Elections confirmed the IAFF’s petition met the required number of signatures of 20 percent of the town’s registered voters. With 6,067 registered voters in Ocean City, the union would have needed 1,213 confirmed signatures and the petition submitted came in at 1,414. As a result, the IAFF’s petition for binding interest arbitration will appear as a referendum question on the town’s municipal election ballot on Nov. 6. This week, the IAFF’s campaign signs for the referendum question started dotting the Ocean City landscape.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

Alternative Text

Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.