I am a 25-year resident of Ocean City and I have always paid attention to who represents us for mayor and City Council.
In the interest of transparency, I have known Councilman [Matt] James for 17 years. I have actively worked with his campaign for City Council twice in the last four years and I am very proud of his leadership and accomplishments.
With that said, I write this as a concerned citizen. I watched the Ocean City Council meeting on Thursday night (Nov. 8) where the council members were sworn in and where the City Council nominates and votes on their new president.
Councilman [John] Gehrig nominated Councilman James for council president and was second by Councilman Paddack (and Paddack pointed out it was for discussion purposes only). Councilman Dare nominated Councilman Martin and was second by Councilman Paddack.
Councilman Gehrig then gave an impassioned and convincing speech about why he was nominating Councilman James. His reasoning was that Councilman James’ 600-vote margin of victory was significant and he has received 70 percent of the vote each time he has run for office.
The other council members who ran did not even receive 50 percent of the vote. Councilman [Lloyd] Martin received 46 percent.
He stated that he believes the voters of Ocean City have spoken. He believes that it is the responsibility of good government to make sure that leaders with the right skill set and who are ready to lead are given the opportunity which James clearly is.
His speech was not only good and thought provoking, it was very convincing and reasonable.
When given the opportunity, no other council member chose to speak about why either candidate would get their vote. As a citizen, I wanted to hear their reasons one way or another for each candidate and none were provided.
The mayor and City Council had no problem sending me a letter (at the taxpayers’ expense) three days before the election to tell me not to vote for the charter amendment but all of a sudden there is a vote for council president and no one with the exception of Councilman Gehrig explained their reasoning for their vote.
Councilmen James and Martin each stated why they thought they should become Council president and the vote was taken. Councilman Martin was elected president when council members Martin, Dare, Paddack, DeLuca and Knight voted for Councilman Martin.
Councilman Gehrig and James voted for Councilman James. The vote was 5-2.
I am not concerned because Councilman James did not become council president and I truly appreciate all of the years that Councilman Martin has served us as council president.
I am concerned because I believe the council is not listening to the voters of Ocean City. I am concerned because with the exception of one council member, no other council member had anything to say on such an important topic. It’s as if this vote was a backroom deal already pre-determined to keep the status quo.
I’m thankful for Councilman Gehrig’s forward thinking on this matter whether it was for Councilman James this time or for critical votes in the future. He is listening to the voters and that is exactly what we elected him to do. The other council members should take note and try to be a little more transparent next time.