(Sept. 19, 2014) As of this week, the Town of Ocean City’s upcoming municipal election is shaping up to be not much of an election at all.
Two recent campaign trail developments have left the town with four open seats in the Nov. 4 contest, and only four candidates – at most, given that only two have actually filed so far – vying to fill them.
After serving two four-year terms, Councilwoman Margaret Pillas announced at this week’s council session that she plans to retire.
“Since this is the last Monday night meeting before the filing deadline, I want to let everyone know that I will not be seeking another term on council,” Pillas said.
Under the city’s charter, all candidates for Mayor and City Council seats must file at least 28 days prior to the election.
“I want to thank everyone who I’ve served with…and everyone who has ever voted for me,” Pillas said. “I hope you still hold me in your confidence.”
Council President Lloyd Martin and Councilman Brent Ashley are also up for re-election this cycle, but both have yet to file. Neither would confirm this week that they intend to do so, although the local political establishment is clearly operating under the assumption that both will indeed win another four years in their seats.
Further, although his seat would not normally be open until 2016, Councilman Joe Mitrecic will be leaving in November to take Ocean City’s uncontested seat on the Worcester County Commissioners. Per the city’s charter, the fourth-place vote-getter in the upcoming election will fill the vacant two years of Mitrecic’s term.
Additionally, it was learned this week that another candidate, although a non-incumbent, will likely be taking his hat out of the ring.
Local resident Joe Cryer, who ran for council previously in 2010, filed for office some weeks ago. However, Cryer is now expected to bow out of his candidacy following a series of unusual outbursts late last week that apparently rattled City Hall.
“I’m still on the ticket right now, but we’re going to re-evaluate,” Cryer said this week. “More than likely, I’m not going to run.”
Last Thursday, Cryer made a series of disturbing Facebook posts expressing anti-Semitic sentiments and threatening Mayor Rick Meehan and Seacrets owner Leighton Moore, whom Cryer believed to be involved in some kind of financial conspiracy.
Cryer also made a series of bizarre phone calls to City Hall, resulting in additional security at the building earlier this week. While the Ocean City Police Department did investigate the issue, Cryer was not found to be a threat to public safety, according to the OCPD.
“To say they were upset would be an understatement,” Cryer said. “The things I said were totally inappropriate. I have apologized to both Rick and Leighton.”
Cryer, a military veteran, said he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that often makes his behavior erratic.
“I’m dealing with some combat-related issues and I don’t know that that’s fair to the rest of the council,” Cryer said regarding his candidacy. “I still want to contribute to the city…but I understand I’m limited because of my mental health.”
Cryer’s emotional instability also proved difficult for his previous council campaign, in which he was accused of making false claims regarding his service in the Navy.
Other than Cryer, only two people – Tony DeLuca and Chris Rudolf – have actually filed for the municipal contest as of this week.
DeLuca is a former executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken, who retired to live in Ocean City full-time five years ago, after having vacationed and owned property in the resort for most of his life. DeLuca currently serves on the town’s Board of Port Wardens.
Rudolf, who has lived in Ocean City since 2005, is the Flying Team Manager for the Kite Loft as well as a legislative aide to the Maryland Senate’s Republican caucus. Rudolf serves an alternate member for the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
Since the Mayor’s term is only two years, Meehan will also be up for re-election. Although he has not yet filed, he currently faces no opposition.