(Sept. 10, 2021) In light of a Worcester County Circuit Court hearing set for Sept. 27 concerning candidate Rick Farr’s election eligibility, the Ocean Pines Directors on Tuesday agreed to delay counting votes for the current board election.
On Aug. 30 in Worcester County Circuit Court, Judge Sidney Campen denied a request from Farr’s attorney Bruce Bright to extend an injunction that stayed the election on Aug. 11, while also agreeing to let the ballot count proceed.
Although Secretary Camilla Rogers certified Farr as a candidate on May 11, he was declared ineligible to run on July 27 following an “anonymous tip” that Farr was not a property owner at the qualification deadline of Jan. 1.
Director Doug Parks said Tuesday the board has a choice to make, while noting Campen was explicit in allowing votes to be counted but also encouraged the association to refrain from certifying results.
“We should wait for the court decision on Sept. 27,” he said.
Association President Larry Perrone said Campen has yet to issue an order in writing but did provide a decision from the bench.
“There’s nothing in writing yet,” he said.
In the court case last week, Bright, had argued that the injunction was intended to keep ballots in the custody of the Ocean Pines Elections Committee, while restricting counting returns or certifying results.
Ocean Pines resident Amy Peck questioned why the special meeting, which attracted barely a handful of residents, was convened at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
“Let’s try to have meetings where more people can attend,” she said.
Director Tom Janasek argued against entering closed session to seek advice for legal counsel.
“I’m against going into closed for something that completely involves everybody in Ocean Pines,” he said.
Director Dr. Colette Horn countered that the issue at hand involves pending litigation, and said the board was justified to enter into an executive session so legal counsel could speak freely.
“We’ll make a decision in closed and come back to open,” she said.
The board voted to close the meeting with Janasek the sole opposition.
Following the closed session discussions the board announced it voted to refrain from taking any election-related actions until after the court hearing later this month.