Nicholas Eastman is campaigning to bring family values back to our beaches. While he may be a political newcomer, he feels that he has what it takes to restore Ocean City’s reputation as America’s finest resort town.
After a year like unlike any other, Nicholas Eastman passionately believes that he is the voice that the Ocean City Council needs. The young candidate is imaginative, and if elected, promises to offer a distinct perspective.
A Gaithersburg native and frequent visitor to Ocean City, Nicholas Eastman currently works for the nearby town of Salisbury. He fondly remembers spending time at the Sea Watch with his family and friends. Now, with a degree in criminology and invaluable life experience under his belt, Eastman is ready to advocate for change. Public safety and American recruitment are the core issues at the heart of his campaign.
Why Eastman is Running
Aside from the challenges facing OC, Nicholas Eastman was compelled to run because of his simple adoration for the town. “Growing up, I always came to Ocean City. I felt like I was immersed in a great family atmosphere,” he recalled. “I had the opportunity to come work here and decided to make it home. I am Greek, and believe it or not, I feel like this city and the ocean is almost a slice of Greece sometimes. That’s yet another personal connection.”
Even more important to Eastman than combatting Covid-19 or unsanctioned events is giving ordinary people a seat at the table. “I am upset with the way things were handled this year,” he said. “However, I am most disappointed that the residents were left out of the conversation. As a councilman, I wouldn’t go at it alone. I want to hear from our people.” Despite his inexperience in local government, he assures voters that he is up to the task. “I have the perseverance and drive that others do not. I am willing to go the extra mile to help the community the best that I can. I think my inexperience is a good thing. I’m not coming into this with any prejudgments.”
While Eastman is certainly not the type of candidate to spar with the people he will face on election day, he does acknowledge that it is time for a new era inside City Hall. “We need new leadership on the council,” Eastman said. “It’s time for fresh ideas and representation. I’m ready to change some minds.”
Fighting for Public Safety
June has always been recognized as a difficult month for Ocean City due to a large influx of young visitors, yet they became especially unruly this summer, taking advantage of the unprecedented situation. As an earnest believer in family-friendly events, he sees the postponement of the annual June Air Show as a major factor in the events that played out on the Boardwalk. “Losing the Air Show was terrible. It’s such a great family event, but it left this vacuum where other people who don’t share our values came down and caused problems,” Eastman said.
To keep disorderly people off the Boardwalk in June and out of the streets in September, Eastman is looking for ways to stop groups from organizing online. “A lot of what we saw this year was put together on social media. We do not want these people coming anymore and causing problems. So, we should blackball them from social media. Let’s keep them from coming here in the first place.”
From Eastman’s perspective, the cause is quite similar to the solution. He credits the loss of June events with bringing in problems, and he trusts that by bringing in family events, the right people will arrive in Ocean City. Eastman is particularly interested in youth sporting events such as little-league, cheerleading, soccer, and volleyball tournaments. He is also considering drive-in movies at the convention center.
Public Safety 365
Even though the summer presents the most challenges for the town, Eastman thinks that more safety is needed year-round. “We need more community watch groups in our neighborhoods. When you see something, say something. We should also take advantage of technology. Ring video doorbells are an important aspect of security. If the devices were purchased under the premise that they could be shared with the police in the case of a crime, we could offer tax incentives.” He is also a proponent of adding more officers to the Ocean City Police force and even deploying them on bicycles. While officers cannot be everywhere, Eastman hopes that an increase in personnel will make a difference.
Tackling safety and security will be tricky, but Eastman says that his unique position as a lifelong visitor and now resident equips him with the knowledge needed to get the job done.
On the safety front, Eastman thinks that there is a lot Ocean City did wrong. However, he does not feel the same when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was a really hard situation, and there wasn’t any plan. The mayor and council acted in a good manner,” he said. “I want to work hard for our businesses, and we have been doing our best to protect them. I am happy that we opened up early. That was key.”
He also hopes to use this platform to shine a light on the negative mental health effects of the pandemic.
In a campaign cycle where most candidates are sticking to the key topics of Covid-19, the economy, and public safety, Nicholas Eastman’s outspoken support for a separate issue is setting him apart from the others.
One of the most devastating effects of the pandemic on Ocean City was the loss of the J-1 workers. Approximately 4,000 foreign students travel every year to serve in the hospitality industry, but travel restrictions hindered them from arriving. With similar crowd sizes but a dwarfed staff, restauranteurs and hoteliers struggled to power through the season.
The situation for next year and beyond remains unclear, but Eastman sees the events of 2020 as a wake-up call. “The loss of the J-1 workers was a result of coronavirus, but it could be caused by the whims of Washington next year. What will happen with Visas next year? We need to focus on bringing domestic workers here. I went to college in West Virginia, and my fellow students were hard workers. We could bring people like them here to help. We’d love to see our J-1 people come back, but by hiring Americans, we would create a better situation moving forward.”
Financially, there is undoubtedly a benefit for domestic workers. Maryland’s minimum wage currently stands at $11.00 an hour. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Maryland is far ahead of its neighbors. This would incentivize people to spend their summers in OC.
Eastman’s Vision for Ocean City
“Ocean City must live up to the idea of America’s finest resort town. We have to make families feel welcome at our beaches. That is my top priority. We can’t let any of this happen again. It was foreign. It was not Ocean City.”
The young candidate needs the help of the people. He encourages his supporters to donate and visit his Facebook page. More than anything, Eastman wants to build a grassroots campaign for the future of Ocean City.
Eastman makes clear that while he hopes to be elected himself, he will remain a public advocate for residents and tourists regardless of the outcome.
Election Day is November 3
For local election information, click here.
Along with Nicholas Eastman, Councilmen Tony DeLuca and John Gehrig, Frank Knight, Peter Buas, and Daniel Hagan will be on the ballot.