Ocean City, NJ Mayor Jay Gillian Will Likely Face Divided City Council
Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian has won an impressive 4th consecutive term as Mayor of Ocean City. His father, Roy Gillian preceded him and was a great Mayor of Ocean City from 1985 to 1989. He left office on his own terms after serving one term in office.
Long-time City Councilman Keith Hartzell ran a strong campaign, losing a relatively close election to Jay Gillian by a margin of 54 to 46 percent (2,299 votes to 1,893).
What remains to be seen, will the Ocean City Council be divided?
It’s a 7-Member legislative body with three members, incumbents Karen Bergman and Pete Madden and a newcomer John Polcini, who ran successfully with Gillian as a ticket.
Three additional incumbents: Bobby Barr, Tom Rotondi, and Jody Levchuk supported Hartzell and all three of these members will remain on the city council.
You can’t blame Rotondi if he has some pretty hard feelings going forward. An anonymous negative flyer was distributed during the campaign that challenged Rotondi’s public service career as a corrections officer.
The flyers contained provably false allegations. We will not re-victimize Rotondi by repeating the false allegations here.
In electoral politics, this is the kind of dirty tricks tactics that can have lasting implications going forward.
Rotondi was already a member of the City Council when he ran for a new term. Even with the dirty tricks, Rotondi only missed taking Madden’s seat away from him by about 50 votes.
However, Rotondi still remains on City Council.
Had Rotondi won a second seat, he would have resigned his ward seat which would have created a vacancy on City Council.
If Rotondi had pulled off the win, he would have taken a staunch Gillian ally (Madden) off of the City Council.
It was an interesting political maneuver by Rotondi. It almost worked. Was the negative flyer the difference? Gillian has stated that he had no involvement with this dirty tactic whatsoever.
Rotondi is not an open Gillian “hater,” but, he demonstrates a more independent philosophy of governance which means his vote is not guaranteed to anyone.
Only time will tell. But, the early signals following last Tuesday’s non-partisan elections yield that although Gillian won his 4th consecutive term and all three of his Council running mates also won Gillian will hold no better than a 4-3 working majority on City Council.
Could the late dirty campaign flyer have cost Rotondi a swing of 25 votes versus Madden for the 3rd open at large Council seat?
Sure, it could have been the difference. That’s the whole reason that dirty tricks have been played since the beginning of our Republic.
These tactics do not come without risk. Never underestimate the potential damage that can linger when dirty campaign tactics are employed and the victim still remains on the governing body.
Such is the case with Rotondi. With a split City Council, things should be interesting in Ocean City going forward.
There was a nearly 45 percent voter turnout on Election Day. That’s about 1,000 more votes than the most recent past election.
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