OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Municipal Election in November is 10 months away, a little too early for decisions to be made for two elected officials whose terms expire this fall.
Councilman Brent Ashley was elected to serve on the City Council in October of 2010 after an unsuccessful bid two years prior. Council members Lloyd Martin and Margaret Pillas were re-elected to return to the council in that 2010 election.
Pillas was first elected as a council member in 2006 and Martin in 2002. Martin was elected council secretary in 2006 and council president in 2012.
At first, Ashley’s election formed a new majority on the council with Pillas and former council members Jim Hall and Joe Hall siding together on many issues, such as former City Manager Dennis Dare’s removal and eliminating subcommittees. Other changes made by the former council majority were a number of alterations to city employees’ pay and benefits all in the idea to save the taxpayers’ dollars.
In the 2012 election, a new majority was formed when Dare returned to work for the city as a councilman and former Councilman Joe Mitrecic was elected and incumbents Mary Knight and Doug Cymek were re-elected.
Ashley routinely brings new ideas to the council that he wants to see pursued. One of his first concepts was a gas giveaway for Ocean City vacationers. Although the idea was voted down by the Mayor and City Council as an official promotion, Ashley took it upon himself to visit a gas station in June of 2011 and fill a family’s gas tank that had just spent their vacation in Ocean City as a thank you.
Ashley’s attempt in finding a way to say thank you to Ocean City’s visitors later transpired into the summer of 2012’s advertising campaign, “The Summer of Thanks”, which requested local businesses post and say thanks as much as possible as well as install a welcome and thank you message across Ocean City’s water towers. Another idea Ashley brought forward was allowing horseback riding on the beach as an off-season promotion.
Ashley said this week he is unsure of what his political future will be.
“I am weighing my options,” Ashley said Monday. “I have been asked to consider running for County Commission. My primary focus and responsibility is serving the people of Ocean City, which I have enjoyed doing. The people who have asked me to consider running for County Commission told me they are looking for a good conservative candidate.”
Ocean City’s current commissioner is Louise Gulyas, who has held the seat since 1998. Gulyas confirmed last month she is not seeking re-election. Also not running for re-election is Ocean Pines Commissioner Judy Boggs. Long-time Commissioner Jim Purnell, the minority representative, has not decided.
Pillas does not have a defined yes or no to the question if she will seek her third term on the City Council this November, but she too is exploring her options as she polls voters and constituents for input.
“That is the way I have been handling it, by just talking to people,” she said. “I am getting their opinions to see if they have a desire for me to come back, or if they are satisfied with the direction of the new majority… If there is not a diverse voice down there, then we only hear one side of the story.”
Pillas is not interested in running for County Commission.
“I like local politics and really enjoy that one-on-one with people. I love going door-to-door and talking with people. I just love talking to people, hearing their opinions and getting guidance from them,” she said.
Martin was not available for comment this week. Mayor Rick Meehan’s term also expires this November. Meehan was unavailable this week as well.