Alcohol farm

Council candidates talk booze and wind farm at forum

Left-wing City Council candidates Donna Moore, Pete Madden, Karen Bergman, Tom Rotondi, John ‘Tony’ Polcini and Mike DeVlieger take the stage at the Performing Arts Center. (Photo provided by Just Right TV Productions and Ocean City Sentinel)

By MADDY VITALE

Six candidates for Ocean City Council are seeking three seats in the May 10 municipal election and as of Monday night each of them answered a series of questions.

Everything from whether the candidates want to keep Ocean City a dry city or allow liquor sales or BYOB for restaurants, to views of a proposed offshore wind farm 15 miles off the coast through Ocean City, au best location for a new public security building, occupied most of the one hour forum.

About 250 people attended the program at the Bill and Nancy Hughes Performing Arts Center at Ocean City High School. Another 250 people watched it on Zoom, organizers said. The Ocean City Sentinel sponsored the forum, and Sentinel editor David Nahan served as moderator.

The audience heard from outgoing General Council members Karen Bergman and Pete Madden and newcomer John “Tony” Polcini, running on a single slate. They also heard from former First Ward Councilor Mike DeVlieger, Second Ward Councilor Tom Rotondi and conservationist and longtime resident Donna Moore.

In opening statements, each nominee explained why they wanted to stay on the Board, return to the Board, or become a member of the governing body.

“We all have quality of life issues and concerns for our island,” Moore said. “I want to bring all of this experience together to represent you on the Council as the voice of the people.”

Madden said as a city councilor for the past eight years, he puts the community first.

“As a member of city council, it is our duty to represent your best interests,” he said. “It’s not an individual effort. We are a team, working with the mayor and the administration.

(Video courtesy of Martin Fiedler of Just Right TV Productions and Ocean City Sentinel)

Like Madden, Bergman said his time on the Council taught him what works best.

“I’ve been a strong voice on the Council for 11 years,” Bergman said. “I am very proud of my accomplishments. I am connected and work daily with all the various groups in our city.

DeVlieger, who left the board in August, after serving since 2012, to settle a family matter, said he wanted to return to the board to continue doing what he loved – serving the community.

“I had to focus on my family,” he said. “We have solved this problem, and my family is moving forward, and I ask to do for the rest of the island what I was able to do for the first district.”

Rotondi is in his first term on the Second Ward council. He said that as a married father of three, he loves Ocean City and everything it stands for and wants it to remain a family town.

“I look forward to being your general counsel if you wish,” he said.

He would remain on the council as a councilor from the second ward if he did not win an at-large seat.

Polcini, a longtime resident, said as a newcomer to politics, he hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the council.

“This is my first rodeo in a political race. I am not a politician, nor do I strive for power or accolades,” he said, adding that he is a family man who knows Ocean City.

On some issues, particularly their views on alcohol sales and recreational marijuana, the council candidates all agreed that neither should be allowed in Ocean City. and that it would harm the family image of the resort and what the town is all about. .

Dave Nahan asks questions to the candidates.

All of the candidates responded with a resounding “no” when Nahan asked each of them how they felt about the two questions.

We should stick with what we have,” Moore said. “Some people would like BYOB, but feel what others are doing here, it could open the door to further sales here.”

Bergman said, “I’m vehemently against BYOB.”

“We are a dry city. We don’t have booze and we won’t have pot,” Madden said.

The issue of wind farms has dominated Council meetings for the past two years. Danish energy company Orsted held forums with Ocean City about the project and council candidates expressed their feelings about the wind farm.

Opponents of the project fear it would harm tourism, real estate values, the commercial fishing industry, migratory birds and marine life in Ocean City. They also fear that massive wind turbines that would be built 15 miles offshore could create a visual blight when viewed from land.

DeVlieger, who while a city councilman was an outspoken opponent of the project, said Monday that wind turbines would hurt our housing market, raise taxes, hurt birds and sea life, hurt tourism and eventually cost the residents of Ocean City more money. in their electricity bills.

“We must fight them with all necessary legal means. We must pursue them. When they first appeared before the Council, I came with questions for them,” DeVlieger said of questions he posed to Orsted more than two years ago. “They still haven’t given us answers two and a half years later. I asked how many right whales and birds would wind turbines kill? She told me the number was statistically insignificant, but I could not answer how many in expected number.

He called the project nothing but “bad news”.

Orsted is proposing to build a wind farm 15 miles off the south coast of Jersey. This photo shows the wind turbines of an Orsted project abroad. (Photo credit Orsted)

Like DeVlieger, Rotondi has also been open about his feelings about the project. He said there was nothing green about the green power project.

The construction that goes into creating the gigantic wind turbine blades is not good for the environment, Rotondi said.

Madden said some of what Orsted proposed was “forced on the city”.

The proposal is in the planning and licensing phase with the federal government and is expected to be completed in 2024.

“Do I want to see the windmills? No. Do I want clean energy? Yes,” Madden said. “Let’s see what we get to benefit us. Let’s do our best with what we have to work with.

Candidates also discussed where to build a public safety building needed to replace the aging police station that currently sits on Eighth Street and Central Avenue.

All of the candidates agreed that Police Chief Jay Prettyman and his department should have better police headquarters for the job they do. However, some took issue with the proposed location.

Mayor Jay Gillian’s plan would be to construct a $42 million public safety building that would combine police, fire, emergency management and municipal court operations in Ocean City into a single complex. The current fire department headquarters at 550 Asbury Avenue would be demolished to make way for the new Public Safety Building.

“The administration checked this process. Something has to be done with the police station or the fire station. No matter where you put a police station, no location is ideal,” Madden said. “I’m open to any suggestions on what we can do. The money is for doing work. We have to move on with something and the longer we wait the more it costs.

An architectural rendering provides an aerial view of the proposed public safety building and parking lot. (Courtesy of the City of Ocean City)

Rotondi, a former law enforcement officer, said he was opposed to setting up a police station near a school for a very important reason: pedophiles should register according to their status.

“When the administration came up with the first location, I had a challenge with the location,” Rotondi said. “Pedophiles must register. To put the building in this place, I was not for. Not next to a church and a school. The best thing is to give them the best state-of-the-art police station and find something for the firefighters.

Mayor Gillian and his administration unveiled the plan in October 2020.