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Thumbs up for referendum
Sterrett and Kelley win seats on board
By Bob Lassahn

On August 13 at 10 a.m. the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) held its annual meeting in the Community Hall of Ocean Pines. OPA Board President Dan Stachurski presided over the meeting and OPA elections committee chairman Bill Snyder verified that a quorum was present, constituted by a minimum of 100 property owners.

The meeting began with presentation awards and gifts to outgoing board members Skip Carey and Tom Sandusky, followed by reports from legal counsel, OPA General Manager Dave Ferguson and a brief summary of the financial report. Public comments were minimal although the issue of some missing ballots, as expressed by one property owner, remained a concern and an issue requiring resolution in future elections.

The most pressing business matters before the association at the annual meeting were the announcement of results of the election for the board of directors and the referendum vote regarding a new town center facility as proposed by the current board. A total of eight candidates vied for the two seats available upon the expired terms of directors Skip Carey and Tom Sandusky. Both of the incumbents declined to seek another term.

Mr. Snyder announced that 7,797 ballots were mailed to eligible voters and the return ballots totaled 4,958 or 63.6 percent.  In contrast, the 2004 election resulted in a return rate of about 52 percent. The election results for the two seats on the board were announced in alphabetical order. A total of 51 write in votes were also submitted.

Successful candidate Reid Sterrett outdistanced his nearest competitor Janet Kelley by a total of 348 votes, while Janet Kelley bested third place finisher Norm Katz by 153 votes. Ms. Kelley was the sole candidate that opposed the referendum on the on the town center.

Mr. Katz ran unsuccessfully in 2004 for a seat on the board, finishing sixth in a field of six candidates while garnering 1,544 votes. Ray Unger, finishing in fourth place and only 63 votes behind Mr. Katz, was the first to announce his candidacy for the board. He also took a pioneering step in OPA elections by running a television spot as a part of his campaign.

The town center referendum was heavily promoted by the board with a vote  “yes” campaign. Opposition to the question arose and countered with a “no” campaign resulting in a large number of signs daily posted on Pines’ properties.

In the end, 4,906 voters submitting ballots spoke with some authority as 2,560 voted their approval and 2,346 voted in opposition, a margin of 214 votes. The board is thereby authorized to proceed with the plan they unanimously approved to construct a 29,000 square foot facility at a cost of about $3.9 million.

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Uploaded: 8/18/2005