OCEAN CITY – Tuesday’s Ocean City’s Municipal Election results blew the last election’s voter turnout out of the water with the highest voter turnout seen in years as incumbents Mary Knight and Doug Cymek, along with former Council President Joe Mitrecic and former City Manager Dennis Dare, were elected to fill the four open council seats.
Complete council election results were Dare, 1,952 votes; Knight, 1,853; Mitrecic, 1,778; Cymek, 1,680; incumbent Jim Hall, 929; Bob Baker, 842; incumbent Joe Hall, 806; Sean Rox, 533; John Adkins, 314; and Philip Sayan, 304. Approximately 3,200 people voted in the election, compared to just 1,521 in 2010 and 1,484 in 2008.
On the mayor’s side, incumbent Rick Meehan was re-elected, securing 2,238 votes compared to challenger Nick Campagnoli’s 629 votes. Additionally, the general employees’ union referendum was soundly defeated in with 1,723 against and 931 for it.
After being forced to resign as city manager by a 4-3 council vote following 21 years of service in the post, Councilman-Elect Dare has made a comeback being elected to council with the highest amount of votes.
“It has been a whirl wind,” Dare said the morning after the election. “I am tired but most of all I am grateful that the voters supported me … My resignation or dismissal was something that the council had every right to do. I came to work every day for 21 years knowing that everyday could be that last day. I am just really grateful for the public support. The voters realized I have a lot of experience and knowledge to contribute.”
Dare furthered that he is looking forward to working as a team with the Mayor and City Council, along with the citizens and employees of Ocean City.
Councilwoman Mary Knight will be returning to the City Council for her third term on the council after receiving the second highest amount of votes.
“I feel very happy and very happy for the future of the citizens and our employees,” she said Wednesday. “I believe we have created a council that is very strong, and we are going to work together to come up with some excellent solutions for whatever faces Ocean City.”
Joe Mitrecic, who received the third highest amount of votes, will be returning to the City Council following a two-year break after he lost his seat in the last election by less than 50 votes.
“I am feeling awesome. It is always better to win than lose,” Mitrecic said. “I am looking forward to getting up there and working with the new council and moving the town forward … I would like to thank the citizens all for all of their support and having the faith in me to help guide Ocean City into the future.”
Councilman Doug Cymek, who finished in fourth place, said Wednesday he was excited to be re-elected and looks forward to returning communication to the council.
“I’m elated with the results and so happy that we are going to be able to again sit down and work through issues now. We won’t always agree, but we will able to continue to talk about it until we come to a consensus. That’s what we have lost over the last two years. There was no conversation, and it was very disheartening. It’s a great feeling to know we are now going to move in a true new direction, and I think it’s going to be great for Ocean City. I couldn’t be any happier,” he said. “I really enjoy my job as a council member and working in the best interests of the town. It was just so gratifying when it was obvious what the voters were saying. They were tired of what was going on and saw through all the negative ads and mudslinging.”
Looking forward, Cymek said he hopes decorum will return the council and mentioned Council members Brent Ashley and Margaret Pillas, who with Jim Hall and Joe Hall formed the council majority that ousted Dare in September of last year.
“I sure hope Council member Ashley and Pillas will begin to participate in the conversations with us. I’m looking forward to working with them. I truly am,” Cymek said.
Jim Hall, who finished a distant fifth place and suffered his first loss in a council election in 25 years, was unavailable for comment.
Joe Hall, who finished in seventh place, took the opportunity to wish the new council luck.
“I am perfectly happy with the results. The important part is the democratic process worked. We were able to get all of the issues out on the table, and I think that the whole election was well covered and the issues were clearly talked about and in the end the voters made a decision. That is what it is all about,” he said. “I clearly would have hoped that I would have won but at the same time 800-plus people clearly agree with me and my vision of the future.”
Joe Hall said that everyone who ran for council and was elected to fill the seats is fully capable of serving Ocean City.
“The difference between me and them is we all have very similar goals we just have different visions on how to get there and how we should go about that, but the voters clarified that last night,” he said.
Joe Hall added that he has not ruled out running for City Council in the future.
“I am going to just allow God’s path and God’s will to guide me. I have no political plans into the future at this time but right now I have to deal with today’s world,” he said. “I believe in Ocean City. I believe that Ocean City will always have great leadership and I trust them. I appreciate the service that I have been able to give the town. It has been a very valuable to me and I appreciate it. Thank you to everybody.”
An organizational meeting was Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall where the new council will be sworn in and a council president and secretary will be elected.
The organizational meeting held following the municipal election two years ago was full of surprises when the self-proclaimed majority at that time, which included Joe Hall, Brent Ashley, Jim Hall, and Margaret Pillas, went against the grain and voted to terminate all of the town’s subcommittees except for the Police Commission. Jim Hall was selected as council president at that meeting.
The general consensus among the new council Wednesday was the organizational meeting will go as planned with no plan of immediate action.
Knight said if action is made to reinstate the town’s sub commissions it will be done after City Manager David Recor’s strategic planning process is completed.
The strategic planning initiative is a process that will result in a vision statement with defined, value-based principles that describe the preferred future for the town with a 15-year planning horizon.
“The timing of the strategic planning with a consultant, we have a two-day workshop in December, is very important and I know that timing will help us determine what kind of actions to take in the future,” Knight said.