The mayor and new City Council took their first group photo at the Ocean City convention center on 40th Street last Thursday. Pictured, from left, are Mark Paddack, Peter Buas, Matt James, Tony DeLuca, Mayor Rick Meehan, Lloyd Martin, Frank Knight and John Gehrig. 

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated the second-longest serving woman on council served for 10 years, when in fact former Councilwoman Nancy Howard served 12 years on the council. We apologize for this error. 

Tony DeLuca takes on role of secretary; Mary Knight says goodbye, thanks to all

(Nov. 13, 2020) A new generation will lead the Ocean City Council, after the council last Thursday voted to install Matt James as council president and Tony DeLuca as council secretary. 

The purpose of last Thursday’s session was to acknowledge the winners of last Tuesday’s election, to establish the council’s organization, and to allow one elected official to say goodbye to a 14-year career. 

“I know that most of you are here this evening for the swearing-in of the candidates, but in my memoirs I’m going to pretend you were all here for me” former Councilwoman Mary Knight said.  

Knight recalled her excitement as a council freshman back in 2006 and how she would share stories of her new duties to all.

“Little did I know that not many folks liked to talk about wastewater management at a cocktail party,” Knight said. “When you follow it up with demoflush, you stop getting invitations to all of those events.” 

She spoke about her role in the lawsuit against topless sunbathing and her pride in the “No Profanity Please,” campaign, which caught national attention after being picked up by the Associated Press. 

“First, believe it or not, I would like to thank the press and the editors,” Knight said. “They have always been very fair and very kind over my 14 years. I want to thank the councilmembers that I have worked with past and present.” 

Knight thanked Worcester County Commissioner Joe Mitrecic for advising her to not investigate an adult store in the northern half of the resort, as her car was easily recognizable. 

Knight thanked the various city managers, department heads, staff and constituents she worked with over the years.   

She then expressed her gratitude to daughter, Frankie Knight Zurla, son-in-law, Jay Peter Zurla, as well her husband, newly elected Councilman Frank Knight. 

“Most of all I want to thank my sweet husband, who I love more than pizza and raw chocolate chip cookie dough, for coming to all of the meetings, for being there as my sounding board, for telling me I did the right thing when in his heart he knew I didn’t,” Knight said. 

She ended her speech with a message to women. 

“I implore young women to serve,” Knight said. “I’m the longest serving councilwoman, 14 years, the next [longest term] was 12 years. We need young women out there — it’s easy, get involved.” 

Following Knight’s speech, the victorious candidates took the oath of service, which was followed by nominations for the new council president and council secretary. 

“I would like to make the motion that we elect Councilman Matt James as council president,” former Council President Lloyd Martin said. 

The council unanimously supported the motion, and James and Martin switched seats to signify the exchange in power. 

“I want to thank and recognize Lloyd Martin for his eight years of leadership as council president,” James said. “On a personal note, I also need to thank Lloyd for the support he gave me when I was a very, very young council candidate in 2014. Your support then and the support you’ve provided in the years that followed mean a lot to me, and I won’t forget that. Thank you.” 

DeLuca’s installation came next, and also received unanimous support from the council. 

“I am truly honored to serve this great town and I’m especially honored to serve as your secretary,” DeLuca said. “I’ll continue to focus on my top three things, which is your money, safety and our beach.”

Josh covers everything Ocean City government and crime. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 2019 with a B.A. in French and Journalism.

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