Ocean City —
Voters will have a choice between one of two longtime Ocean City residents for the Second Ward council race on May 8.
Councilwoman Karen Bergman, who has served on the board since 2008, announced she would not run for re-election and is moving out of the Second Ward, leaving the field wide open.
Antwan McClellan and John Quinn are vying for one four-year term as the Second Ward council representative.
The second ward extends from the south side of 4th Street to the north side of 12th Street.
Antwan McClellan, 38, is a lifelong resident of Ocean City and 1993 graduate of Ocean City High School. He attended Virginia State University and Old Dominion University.
Photo: David Nahan
Antwan McClellan is running for the Ward 2 council seat.|
A paralegal with the Ocean City firm of Slater, Tenaglia, Fritz & Hunt, McClellan said he’s running for council to give back to the community and to “make a difference.”
He’s been a member of the school board since 2010, when he was appointed to fill now-mayor Jay Gillian’s term. He was elected to a three-year term in 2011.
McClellan said he supports the city obtaining grants for infrastructure improvements such as roads and drainage.
“I would be for looking for grants to see what money is out there we could definitely use before we would take out any type of loans,” McClellan said. “I would like to see the improvements spread across the Second Ward and to make sure everybody has the opportunity to enjoy safer streets and have the least amount of flooding as possible.”
He said the city should advertise its school district to entice younger families to move here.
“We have one of the best school districts in the state, I feel. We should let them know there’s stuff going on here year-round. It’s not as desolate as people think it is on the outside,” McClellan said. “This is a great town to raise your family. The school district is great and housing affordable.”
On the subject of zoning, McClellan said he favors the current review of the city’s Master Plan.
“We’re already overdeveloped as a town and there’s nothing we can do about that. Now we’re trying to make it better and deal with what we have,” McClellan said.
McClellan favors keeping the city’s Ethics Board, which he said holds elected officials and city employees accountable.
“As opposed to waiting for somebody in a different city or at the state level to take care of it, we should take care of it ourselves. We’d get a quicker response time that allows for a much more efficient government,” McClellan said.
McClellean said he “doesn’t have any true feelings” on the Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) initiative, other than letting the public weigh in on the May 8 referendum.
“The city will vote on it and then whatever they vote on, if I’m appointed to city council, I would definitely enforce that, McClellan said.
Though McClellan gives city council high marks as a collective in working with the administration, he said there should be younger blood on the governing body.
“I feel it’s time for the younger generation to step up,” McClellan said. “We need fresh ideas. Things change over time and I feel I can bring fresh ideas.”
As a lifelong local, McClellan remembers a vibrant business district on Asbury Avenue, and said it needs stores to attract year-round shoppers.
“When I was younger, I was up and down Asbury Avenue, especially in Stainton’s. When I was younger, Stainton’s was our mall. There was escalators, elevators and shopping on all floors,” McClellan said. “We need that building there to draw people.”
He said the city should promote the downtown and the newer businesses that have recently taken root, alongside established businesses.
“If we can promote them better and let people know, the outside world would know what’s going on in downtown Ocean City,” McClellan said.
He lauded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their partnership with the city on beach replenishment projects. He said the city should continue pressing for federal funding for dredging and on Ocean City’s beaches.
“Fortunately we had a light winter, so we didn’t lose too much (sand) this year, but we have to keep an eye on our beaches and see what funding we can get to continue to replenish our beaches and make sure they hold up for many years to come,” McClellan said.
If elected, McClellan would personally work with merchants in the downtown and Boardwalk.
“I would like to roll up my sleeves and sit with the merchants on the boardwalk and the merchants downtown and make sure I can see what they want and promote it to make sure they’re happy. I feel as though if they’re happy, we can draw more people in with them being happy,” McClellan said. “I’m a people person. I like to get out and talk to people.”
Photo: David Nahan
John Quinn is running for the Ward 2 council seat.|
John Quinn, 73, a retired corporate controller for a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Philadelphia, he moved to Ocean City 30 years ago.
Quinn was a zoning board member for ten years, serving the last six years as chairman. He was a former president of the Ocean City school board and former chairman of the Ocean City Zoning Board, and was named Citizen of the Year by the Ocean City Sentinel in 2004.
He currently serves as treasurer of the Ocean City Masonic Club, treasurer of the Foster-Karney Foundation and the finance officer for the American Legion.
Quinn ran unsuccessfully for city council ten years ago.
He said his corporate background and experience serving on the zoning board are assets for city council.
“If you own property, you’ve got to be concerned about the zoning. There’s a number of zones within the city and within the Second Ward that are antiquated, poorly-designed and just not working,” Quinn said. “These zones place an unfair and unreasonable hardship on property owners.”
He said he would like the city to address flooding and street repairs.
“There’s a number of people in the Second Ward who have flooding problems, and they shouldn’t have to live like that. It brings down your quality of life,” Quinn said. “The streets are in extremely poor condition and need repairs. I would like to see the city do repaving and make the roads better to drive on.”
The city can attract younger families to Ocean City through zoning, by making it easier to build single-family homes. He said Ocean City has 23 zones in the second ward and more than 60 zones in Ocean City.
“If you look at the single-family homes you have in the hotel-motel zone, which runs from Seventh to 12th streets, if you want to replace those homes, you can’t do it. They’re a non-conforming use. You have to go to the zoning board and spend thousands of dollars in attorney fees and architects,” Quinn said. “The way you attract families is through zoning.”
He said the Hotel-Motel Zone should have conditional uses based on square footage of lots and allow both single-family homes and duplexes.
Quinn said Ocean City should keep its local volunteer Ethics Board.
“We all expect our elected officials and our city employees to conduct themselves ethically at all times,” Quinn said. “The Ethics Board provides an independent investigation of ethics violations.... I think it’s important that there’s some mechanism for citizens of Ocean City to go and have these ethics violations independently and fairly evaluated and looked into.”
He welcomes a public referendum on Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB), adding council should not decide whether this dry town should allow patrons to bring alcohol.
“That determination should be made by the voters, and that’s what’s going to happen May 8,” Quinn said.
He said the downtown business district is an important part of the Second Ward, and should have year-round businesses.
“If you have a viable downtown, they’re employing local people, so it’s a win-win situation,” Quinn said.
He said the city should support the downtown and listen to the Asbury Avenue merchants.
“To have a viable municipality, you should have a viable downtown,” Quinn said. “You have to look at improving the infrastructure, getting people to go down there and shop and look at the zoning. There’s a myriad of things you have to do.”
Quinn said the beach was “one of the gems of Ocean City” and advocated for beach replenishment projects. He added the city should likewise maintain dredging in lagoons.
“I think people have a right, just like you want your street fixed, you have the right to be able to have access to your property if you’re on the bay,” Quinn said.
He said Ocean City taxpayers in the Second Ward are concerned about the way the city spends taxes.
“People are not too concerned about how much it is, but they’re concerned that the money is used efficiently and effectively and that its spent properly and that spending is prioritized for the best interest of the people that live in the city,” Quinn said.