With exactly two weeks until election day, Daniel Hagan is working to push his message out to Ocean City voters. Amidst economic and public safety troubles for the town, Hagan is calling for swift changes. If elected, he promises to be the loudest voice in the room.
Daniel Hagan is one of the newest faces in the local government scene, and he is vying for the votes of Ocean City residents. Pushing for change, transparency, and safety, Hagan is ready for his first venture serving the town. He recognizes his inexperience, yet believes that his involvement in the community is paramount.
Originally from Glen Burnie, Daniel Hagan spent many family vacations in Ocean City. He now lives here full-time. Hagan took an interest in politics in high school and believes in family and community values. He feels that now is the perfect time to fight for change.
Hagan says that this is an uphill battle, but one he is willing to pursue. Running against well-known Ocean City leaders is no small feat. Hagan is quite critical of his opponents and the ways in which they have managed local affairs. From Covid-19, to the new pier franchising agreement, and the pop-up rally, he hopes that voters will recognize these critical issues and side with him come November 3.
Hagan’s First Political Venture
Hagan is seeking one of the four open seats on the City Council, but that was not always the case. He first filed to run for mayor against incumbent Rick Meehan. The mayoral elections have largely gone uncontested throughout Meehan’s 14-year tenure. Hagan decided that there are more opportunities to make change as a member of the council.
“I was originally going to run for mayor,” Hagan said. “I really think that I could be more effective as a member of the council. The council gets to vote on all the issues, while the mayor is a spokesperson for the town.”
Regardless of the office Hagan is campaigning for, name recognition and community presence are key. Over the next two weeks, he is planning to get on the trail. “I’m going to be everywhere. I’m knocking on doors, walking the streets, and going to the Boardwalk. I have a good support system. I have put a lot into this, and I mean everything I say.”
Hagan surely has a lot to say about his fellow candidates. He believes that many of Ocean City’s problems have been ignored and exacerbated by City Hall leadership.
“The two that are on the council have flaws that I am going to use. They say they have done a good job, but Ocean City hasn’t changed much. I don’t think they have been honest. They have done deals that could eventually bankrupt us. They only answer to the community when it’s convenient to them.”
June Boardwalk Incidents and September Pop-Up Rally
As businesses began to gradually reopen in time for the kickoff of the summer season, many young people flocked to Ocean City. To the detriment of the town, many of these visitors brought violence and unrest with them. Hagan agrees that this behavior is reprehensible.
Hagan was on the Boardwalk filming when many of the unfortunate scenes broke out. He says that aside from the harm done to Ocean City’s image, it was frustrating and saddening to see families running the other direction. “I was up there and saw people who were really scared. Things were thrown everywhere, and it was not what we were used to seeing. When a small town like this is covered by Fox News, that’s not a good thing. We have to have leaders that go up there and engage with the businesses. No one else was up there talking to people like I was.”
For any government official, working with constituents is extremely important. One of the primary reasons Hagan jumped into the race is because he does not feel that the town’s leaders are responsive to the people. “I set up an email account in June so that I could hear from residents and help address their problems. The common theme was that they emailed the mayor, and he did not respond.”
The problems in June are not new for Ocean City, but they escalated this year. Hagan claims that the town could have made better preparations. “Where were all of the officers we had in September when we needed them in June?” he asked. “Everyone’s excuse is that they didn’t know it was coming, but they did. There was national unrest happening.”
Addressing the Problems
Unrest broke out yet again for H20i weekend. In response to what he was seeing in the streets, Hagan posted a video in which he described the use of excessive force by police and claimed that not all of the people at these events are coming to wreak havoc on the town. That video has since been deleted.
Daniel Hagan says that his stance was totally taken out of context. “First and foremost, I support the police, and I’ve always done that. You have some people who cause problems, but there was a video of multiple police officers tackling someone, and that’s not good. I don’t know the situation, but I would further investigate it, so we avoid lawsuits.”
Most, if not all the other candidates passionately believe that these events should never return to Ocean City. Hagan thinks otherwise and that not every person in the H20i crowd is a bad apple. “They are saying that all the people are bad, but I saw a lot of good stuff,” he explained. “There are little kids here, and they light up when they see the cars. We need to figure out how to host the right people.” When pressed about the damage done to Ocean City, he agreed that the violence has no place in the town and that if the event is to return, serious investigating needs to occur.
The coronavirus continues to present problems for this resort town, even heading into the offseason. Most of the actions taken by local officials have been similar to those taken at the state level. Hagan says that he initially agreed with how the virus was handled, but that it quickly became political. “In the beginning, when everything was shut down, I thought Mayor Meehan did a good job. As time started rolling, I felt like it was being mishandled. I remember when a local bar had St. Patrick’s Day and Governor Hogan wanted to shut down businesses. I would have told Hogan no. Mayor Meehan did his best fighting against it, but eventually, he had a lot of pressure. The mayor and council did not do enough to protect businesses.”
An important turning point for Hagan was when Meehan enacted a mask mandate on the Boardwalk at the end of July. “Meehan pushed the mask mandate and wasted money on signs. At this point, I see it as a personal choice. My family wears masks where they are required, but people can make their own decisions. The government has no right to tell other people what to do.”
Hagan says that if elected, he will fight to protect local businesses and get them the help that they need.
Open Meetings Act Violations
The Covid-19 response is not the only thing that Daniel Hagan believes town officials botched. Of all the issues facing Ocean City, the Open Meetings Act violations handed down to the City Council is perhaps the topic on which Hagan is most passionate.
In June 2020, the Compliance Board served the town with three violations for closed-door discussions they had regarding a new franchising agreement for the pier. Council Secretary Mary Knight and Councilmen Dennis Dare and John Gehrig worked as an unofficial body to secure a new, decades-long deal. After months of negotiations, the deal was made public ahead of its approval. The council holds that if these negotiations were conducted in public, the town’s bargaining position may have been compromised. When faced with the violations, the council committed to improving their practices and made it clear that they did not knowingly break the rules.
Hagan is calling foul and believes that there should be more grave consequences. “They violated state law. It’s a big deal, and they all are liable. The entire deal should have been voided. How could they say that they didn’t know they were violating the Open Meetings Act? I think there was something bigger at play.”
Hagan’s Vision for Ocean City
“We need to reach out through marketing campaigns and answer the questions of those who live and vacation here. We can’t keep assuming things. Let’s figure out how to reduce music, weed, and trash on the Boardwalk. We have to bring the right people here and invest in the future. We need to plan for everything and stop working in the past.”
Election Day is November 3
For local election information, click here.