No Surprises in Mayoral Debate With Election Less Than a Week Away

first_imgIncumbent Mayor Jay Gillian and one of the most vocal critics of his administration, Ed Price, met in a debate Wednesday, but the clash offered little drama.The two candidates are running for mayor in the municipal election on Tuesday, May 13.Each man stood on his record of accomplishment — Gillian as a first-term mayor elected in 2010 and Price as leader of the boards of the Ocean City Free Public Library Board of Trustees and Ocean City Housing Authority and of various other community organizations.About 200 people attended the forum Wednesday night (May 7) at Ocean City High School. The event was sponsored by the Democratic and Republican clubs of Ocean City. The candidates made opening and closing statements and took turns answering the same questions posed by moderators Bart Russell and Michaela Walsh.With no significant gaffes, attacks or highlights from either candidate, the debate likely did little to sway anybody but the most undecided voters. A tape of the debate will be rebroadcast on public access Channel 97 on the Comcast cable lineup.The following are summaries and excerpts from the forum. ON ORDINANCES (FROM TRASH-CAN LIDS TO DOGS ON THE BOARDWALK) THAT GO UNENFORCEDJay Gillian: Said he’s urged police department to “be nice, be kind.” Understands need for enforcement but doesn’t “believe in throwing the hammer down” for fear of greater repercussions from property owners and visitors.Ed Price: Agrees that people will remember “Ocean City’s the place I got the ticket.” But he suggests paying greater attention to ordinances that affect year-round residents (such as construction ordinances). ON HIGH COSTS OF CITY PERSONNEL (INCLUDING POLICE AND FIRE)Ed Price: Said “it’s a mistake to look at workers as a liability. I like to look at them as an asset.”Jay Gillian: Said new fire chief (Chris Breunig) is offering new staffing model to reduce costs and police chief (Chad Callahan) is “doing more with less.” Agrees with Price: “We should stop picking on people.” ON MAINTAINING A HISTORIC DISTRICT IN OCEAN CITYJay Gillian: Suggests better dialogue with owners. “Give them all the tools they need. See what they’re up against.”Ed Price: Says paying attention to Historic District has been like “kissing a baby” or “hugging a veteran” — something to be done only at election time. “We need to decide as a town to support it or get rid of it.” ON WHETHER THE PLANNING BOARD SHOULD REVIEW CITY PROJECTS LIKE THE PROPOSED SKATEBOARD PARKJay Gillian: Yes, but city should wait until “all the facts are in.” The projects “should be well-vetted.”Ed Price: Projects should be vetted not just with the members of the public who use it, but with those who don’t. Price said part of his concept-design-fund-implement strategy in planning a major renovation of the local community center and library was to talk to folks who never used it. “There’s nothing to eat,” many said. That’s how the cafe at the Community Center came to be, he said. CLOSING STATEMENTSJay Gillian: Thanks Price for running an honorable campaign. Says both candidates are good guys who love Ocean City. But there’s a “clear difference”: leadership and experience.Ed Price: Says he does have leadership and experience and says there is a clear difference: “I look at things much more long-term. I pay more attention to rules and regulations.” ON A POTENTIALLY BROKEN PROMISE FROM COMCAST TO MAINTAIN AN OCEAN CITY OFFICEJay Gillian: “Comcast is a monster.”Ed Price: “They are a monster.” ON WHY CANDIDATE IS RUNNING FOR OFFICEJay Gillian: Wants to continue work of last four years.Ed Price: Doesn’t think enough has been done in last four years. OPENING STATEMENTSEd Price: Outlined a list of his roles in public service and said it “shows my commitment to Ocean City.”Jay Gillian: Said people told him before he was elected, “Infrastructure … infrastructure,” and he noted his administration’s investments in roads, beaches, boardwalk, downtown and other areas. ON UTILITIES TEARING UP ROADSJay Gillian: “It’s enforcement.”Ed Price: Agrees “it’s enforcement.” Suggests a smartphone app to report problems. ON INCREASING PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE BAYJay Gillian: Talked of need to balance private property rights with public access. Said the city will continue to look for opportunities to make purchases to increase access.Ed Price: Said the Bayside Center (500 block of Bay Avenue) is “kind of an embarrassment” and an under-utilized asset. Also said he was disappointed to see the public property on the bay at Second Street never get off the ground in terms of public usage. ON OCEAN CITY’S FLOODING AND DRAINAGE PROBLEMSEd Price: Happy that Merion Park improvements are underway, but attributed the multi-million-dollar project not to the city but to a citizen advocate (Westminster Lane resident Marty Mozzo). “We should change the name from Merion Park to Mozzo Park.”Jay Gillian: “We’ve done it. We’ve identified it. We have a plan and we’ve been doing it.” Gillian pointed to dramatically increased investments including pumping stations. ON AN UNFULFILLED PROPOSAL TO CREATE FREE CITYWIDE WIFI ACCESSJay Gillian: Addresses improved WiFi access for paid carriers.Ed Price: Said Ocean City missed a “golden opportunity” about nine years ago when the city had a plan mapped out but bowed to pressure from Comcast. Said regulations are much stricter now, but suggested that perhaps the downtown or boardwalk districts could operate free WiFi on a smaller scale. ON VISION FOR OCEAN CITY IN NEXT 10 TO 20 YEARSEd Price: Sees the Ocean City version of “a chicken in every pot”: wide beaches, dredged bays, smooth boardwalk — serving America’s Greatest Family Resort.Jay Gillian: Sees the Ocean City version of “a chicken in every pot”: wide beaches, dredged bays, smooth boardwalk — serving America’s Greatest Family Resort. ON INCREASING WINTER ACTIVITIES TO HELP THE DOWNTOWN SHOPPING DISTRICTJay Gillian: Said it has to be a partnership between the merchants, the Chamber of Commerce and the city. “The city makes it clean, safe and accessible.”Ed Price: Proposes a “shop local” program that would include a card that would apply discounts to shoppers’ property tax bills. Also would like to see more invested in promoting Ocean City as a year-round community and not just a tourist destination.last_img read more