• February 19, 2020

McClellan bid farewell to O.C. Council Jan. 9 - Ocean City Sentinel: News

McClellan bid farewell to O.C. Council Jan. 9

He will represent the district in legislature

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Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2020 9:54 am

OCEAN CITY – With tearful goodbyes and somber reflection, Councilman Antwan McClellan said farewell to city council on Jan. 9.

In his last meeting, McClellan told his fellow council colleagues what an honor it was to serve on council for eight years. 

McClellan will head to Trenton as a newly-minted assemblyman for the First legislative District. 

He was elected last November with an all-Republican ticket consisting of Vineland attorney Michael Testa and Lower Township Mayor Erik Simonson.

Testa will serve in the Senate while Simonsen and McClellan will serve in the Assembly. 

The three Republicans defeated the Democratic incumbents Sen. Bob Andrzejczak and Assemblymen Bruce Land and Matt Milam. 

Their swearing-in was Jan. 14. 

The First Legislative District includes all of Cape May County, a majority of Cumberland County, and Corbin City, Estell Manor and Weymouth Township in Atlantic County. 

McClellan, the youngest of six siblings and a lifelong Ocean City resident, served on the Ocean City school board for three years before his election to city council in 2012, where he represented the Second Ward. 

He is a 1993 graduate of Ocean City High School and attended Virginia State University and Old Dominion University. McClellan works as an assistant to Cape May County Sheriff Bob Nolan.

During the prayer before the meeting, Councilman Keith Hartzell called the meeting “bittersweet” and said council will miss McClellan. 

“He’s an exemplary young man who can make friends with anybody. He listens before he speaks. He’s been a mentor to children in this town. He’s been a leader in this town,” Hartzell said.

Council and Mayor Jay Gillian presented McClellan with a proclamation recognizing his years of service with Ocean City.

The proclamation noted that he served the city “with honor and distinction since 2012 acting as a private leader with a level head and an even hand.” 

McClellan served as a trustee on the Ocean City Historical Museum, a volunteer with the South Jersey Field of Dreams, founder of the Lawrence McClellan Scholarship Fund, member of the Ocean City Sports Hall of Fame Committee, and organizer of the annual basketball tournament to benefit Shiloh Baptist Church.

McClellan stood with his fiancé Angela Mason and his mother Cola Mae McClellan as City Council President Pete Madden read the proclamation. McClellan hugged each member of council after he received the proclamation. 

“Antwan, there’s no better person than you to be doing this. I’m super proud of you. I’ve never been so excited to go to Trenton as I will be this Tuesday and that speaks volumes because going to Trenton is never fun as you’ll soon find out,” Councilman Bob Barr said.

Barr noted that he watched McClellan grow into the role and overcome obstacles during the campaign.

Barr was referring to an attack ad sent by General Majority PAC, a Washington, D.C.-based group tied with Democratic Party leader George Norcross from Camden County. The ad showed a darkened and distorted photo of McClellan, who is black, framed in a yellow circle reminiscent of the Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake mix character. 

The ad also referred to McClellan as a “financial deadbeat” for being sued nine times for “failing to pay tens of thousands in debts.”

In an interview with the Sentinel last October, McClellan said the lawsuits stemmed from conditions to his West Avenue home after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. He said the credit card debts began piling up after Sandy. He noted the debts were paid in 2016 and 2017.

McClellan told the Sentinel he expressed his disappointment with the ad. 

His fellow council members noted how McClellan conducted himself with grace and dignity over the attacks.

“There’s nobody better than you to handle what you’ve handled and to what you have to do and that’s because your heart is in the right place,” Barr said. 

Councilman Michael DeVlieger said he would miss McClellan’s input on council. 

“Trenton needs you. We need you in Trenton. I have never met a person that had a more pure heart and clear mind than you. No nonsense, no fake air. I don’t think there was a week we served together when we didn’t talk about the agenda or talk about something,” DeVlieger said. 

Councilwoman Karen Bergman commended McClellan for his time on council.

“You’ve served with more grace than I’ve seen anyone serve in public service,” Bergman said. “You blessed everybody that comes into this room with your grace and your compassion.” 

Councilman Tony Wilson described how he and McClellan “instantly clicked” and their friendship grew. 

 “He’s family and I’m a better man for having him in my life,” Wilson said.

Gillian called McClellan a “quiet leader” and advised he should be a statesman and “listen to both sides” when in Trenton. 

 “Being a nonpartisan town like Ocean City we can work together and it’s going to be difficult where you’re going,” Gillian said. “Just know you have the support of all of us sitting at this table.” 

McClellan said it was a “pleasure” serving on Ocean City Council.

“I’ll continue to serve in Trenton and I’ll continue to be bothering you guys with the crazy questions, with the crazy things that they’ll be trying to pass in Trenton,” McClellan said. “The people I love and trust are here, so the first questions will be coming here and then I’ll decide if I wish to vote yes or no depending on my answers coming from the people I love and trust here.”

Voice cracking with emotion, McClellan said he learned “a lot” from Gillian.

“You’ve been with me the whole time,” McClellan said. “Thank you.”

McClellan wept as he thanked his colleagues on council and in City Hall.

“I was not going to cry,” McClellan said. “I blew it.” 

He said council “made history will continue to make history.”

“I made history in Trenton because of you guys and I love you, respect you and I love Ocean City and I’ll wear this wherever I go,” McClellan said, tugging on his red Ocean City Council shirt. 

David Breeden, president of Fairness In Taxes, congratulated McClellan on his future in the state legislature. 

 “It’s always good to have somebody from Ocean City representing us at the state,” Breeden told McClellan. “Having worked for the state for a few years I can tell you Trenton is a brutal town. Politics up there is a blood sport. From a political party perspective you’re in the minority. Don’t give up. Never surrender your values and keep pushing for what is right.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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